Learning about something new usually starts with a few base definitions, yet defining ‘change’ is something that’s taken me years – and huge range of change experiences – to get my head around. Because ‘unfortunately’ change is something you only learn about as you experience it. Nobody sits you down at the start of life and says ‘right, so let me teach you about change’.
So, what have I learned?
Change is the transformation of a relationship – with a person, an experience, a routine, an event, a memory, a physical item…with anything you form an attachment to. Those attachments may be light and superficial, and you can easily detach from them. For example, you want to wear your favourite red shirt to work and discover it’s in the wash basket. No drama – you’ll just have to wear something else today!
Or the attachment may be a deep bond of sharing such as a relationship with another person - intimate, family, or friend; or your relationship with the house you grew up in, or a business you’ve poured your heart and soul into and built from the ground up. So much emotion, so many memories, so many highs and lows are entwined with that relationship. So when that relationship is changed – wrenched from you by force or you gradually realise something has to go – it’s felt deeply and can make the change more challenging to adjust to and release. When your identity, or perception of who you are, is also tightly bound up in that relationship then it can seem as if your whole world is crumbling: because you’ve lost a sense of who you are. You’ve given your heart away.
The same thing happens when you have ideals and expectations of how an event or relationship ‘should be’. When things don’t turn out quite as expected, it can be a shock and take quite a bit of mental and emotional readjustment to process what happened, because your heart was set on a particular outcome. When it doesn’t arrive, again, you’ve lost that connection with your heart space.
The common thread in these examples is your natural attachment to your heart - to you. The change that’s happened is like a break-up with yourself, but you’re so focused on the event, thing, or other person that you don’t connect with your own heart to explore the pain. That’s what hurts; that’s what turns your world upside down – the separation from where your heart has been invested and from who you think you are.
So, why is knowing this a good thing?
For me, it’s helped to look at change objectively and understand what’s happening – like from a helicopter viewpoint, even while I’m emotionally processing the situation. When I look at the change situation and notice where my heart was invested, I also realise my heart is still with me and not left behind with the person/thing/event.
For example, a few years ago I was unsuccessful in obtaining a job contract I’d been acting in for a number of months – and absolutely loved. Not getting the job was a shock to the system, and I was pretty upset about it because I’d put my heart and soul into it. Looking at it through my ‘definition of change’ perspective, I realised the real emotion was because I thought I’d lost that part of me when I lost the job. Not true. I still had the relationships I’d built. I still had the skills and the connection with the type of work I loved. I could replicate that anywhere. The change wasn’t so upsetting when I reconnected with my heartspace and understood it.
If I hadn’t re-defined my experience through an objective look at change, I may still be clinging to all I thought I’d lost, buried in the shock and emotions of that time.
When you look at your change experiences, do you see them like a broken relationship? Can you see how your heart was invested, and was forced to shift? How might a new perspective of defining change help you to adjust to that change?
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Thanks for reading,
Life experience has taught me a lot about change - its messiness and my desire to circumnavigate it in a more efficient way. In this blog I share my experience so you too can survive change with a smile on your face!