If you're going through change right now (and who isn't?) it's helpful to think about why this journey is starting for you.
Exploring the reasons for the change can help you unearth some of the feelings you have about it and begin to make sense of how it's impacting your life.
What's Rocking Your Boat?
According to Joseph Campbell in the Power of Myth, transformational journeys begin for one of two reasons:
- Something has been taken away from you--a job, a relationship, an identity or
- You feel that there is something lacking in your life--some essential vibrancy or life force, some energy or purpose.
In essence, change occurs because it has been imposed upon you from the outside through some loss or it bubbles up from the inside as an awareness of something that's missing.
But as Carol McLelland points out in Seasons of Change, these are just a few of the factors that can spur a journey. Other things to consider include:
- Did you choose the change or was it imposed on you?
- Did you know the change was coming or was it unexpected?
- Do you think the change you are going through is "good" or "bad"?
- Is this change in sync with the "normal" pattern of your life or is it untimely and out of sync?
In general I've found that when change feels unexpected and imposed from the outside and when we see it as "bad" and not in synch with our lives, we have a much stronger negative emotional reaction and are more likely to resist the change.
This doesn't mean that changes we choose and plan for can't carry their own unexpectedly negative feelings. In fact, we can be caught unaware by those emotions when they come up. There's still fear of the unknown and worries about how our lives will change that come with planned for and eagerly anticipated change--ask any new parent or graduate.
However, we are less likely to embrace change as an opportunity and to resist what it can show us when we have assigned unexplored, negative baggage to the change. By working with some of these questions, we can begin to churn the waters a little and loosen up the logjam of resistance and denial that could be building around the change.
Journaling is one way to explore these questions. A conversation with a partner or trusted friend is another. Try to not only answer the specific questions, but also to discuss the implication of your answers, particularly the emotional implications.
So, for example, I've found that when a change feels like it's out of synch from what you'd planned for your life--getting laid off at the height of your career--there's often a sense that this is "unfair" and that it "shouldn't have happened." These feelings tend to lead to resistance and lots of stuckness around the injustice of it all.
To work with emotions and beliefs, you must first acknowledge that you have them. So use this exercise to really unearth and explore your ideas, feelings and beliefs about the change.
What's rocking your boat right now?