Change. Does the word make your heart sink, or soar? There is no right or wrong answer to that question, because there are so many different types of change, and personal responses to that change.
I recently read a blog post titled “The Benefits of Change”. It had a cool acrostic, but I can only remember two of the points – H was change is hard (how is that a benefit? Except obviously, hard work can feel satisfying in the end) and E was for Energy. The main reason I can’t remember all his points was because while I was reading I was making up a version of my own, as you do.
Because the time we need to understand that change can have benefits, if we will make them into benefits (and it is definitely something requiring a little ingenuity and work on our side), is when we are engulfed in a miserable messiness of awful change without a glimmer of the anything solid and predictable anywhere. Where even the biggest change-phile would be uncertain. So here’s my version, which arises predominantly from thinking about the lessons I learnt from the hardest changes in my life.
C is for Clarity. When the immediate dust settles, changes can allow us to see things that we would not otherwise see. Our relationships operate differently under stress, and we can learn to understand ourselves and others better through that. Sometimes we get a chance to see the beauty in others, and sometimes the spitefulness. Sometimes it is the bitterness and ill-will within ourselves that we are so good at pretending isn’t there that we are forced to confront. The point is – when you see it for what it is, you can decide what to do about it.
H is for Habituation. You were in a comfortable place, and now it’s all upside down. But we can as people get used to things. We can make it work. It won’t be the same as it was before, but it doesn’t need to be. Don’t aim for perfection in this new place. Aim for good enough. We become habituated to things so quickly that developmental psychologists use this as an experimental technique in dealing with young infants. Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re getting used to a change you don’t want to get used to. It’s a survival mechanism; use it to your advantage.
A is for Alternative. As in an alternative perspective. Sometimes the change is hard right now, but we know that it will be better in the future. Sometimes we don’t know that, but we need to appreciate that life is a journey, and there will be a way through. Eventually.
N is for New. Well, it had to be said. Because there is always something new to do, or learn, a new way of thinking of things, a new way of being yourself. Not a new you, the same you, just a new way of being you. Sometimes this can be the hardest part, but at the same time, you don’t know who’s watching you in this new time. You don’t know who you are inspiring to carry on for one more day just by your own carrying on in your new life.
G is for Growth. Little Person is having a growth spurt and she’s all cranky and out of sorts. She’s shovelling food down as fast as I can cook it, she’s permanently tired, and she looks as though she’s just not comfortable in her skin. The tiniest little frustration evokes a very strong response, and yet, well, I wouldn’t want to still be dealing with a 4 year old ten years from now, would I? Growth is uncomfortable, but growth is good. And things grow everywhere on this beautiful planet, so you can too. Sometimes, though, growth is a choice. A stickability, not going to let these uncomfortable circumstances stop me. If you can decide to grow towards your goal even in times of change, it’ll be a sweeter victory. Like vegetables. Some vegetables taste better if harvested after the first frosts. (Random thought, I just threw it in there.)
E is for Evaluate. Because above all else, change is an opportunity to stop, and think, and evaluate some things. Big things. Or little things. To decide if these are things you want in life. Even if things you really want have been taken away from you, it is a chance to evaluate why you want them, and provides a motivation to help you get them back. Evaluation can be a tool towards a new post-change life. If you will take the time to think, and decide how to make your new life better.
So there you go, even difficult changes can have benefits. What are the benefits of change that you see?
(With apologies for my long-windedness. Little Person was on half-term last week and my brain is overstuffed with thoughts.)
P.S. Having gone back to the original post that inspired me, I see the author also used clarity and growth in his post. Sorry about that. But I guess there are only so many things that begin with C and G….