Our resistance to change is based on our survival mechanisms, but that doesn’t mean it’s in our best interest. How do we flow with change instead?
Our brain is a very efficient machine that’s trying to keep us alive. In the name of safety and survival, it’s steering us towards what we know, the familiar, the status quo. The familiar is deemed safe (we’ve been doing it thus far, and we’re still here, so it must be safe).
In the same vein, change is seen as risky, unfamiliar, dangerous to our brain. So it naturally feels uncomfortable, and we find ourselves resisting it.
However today survival is quite different from what it used to be back when our brain circuitry was formed. We aren’t being attacked by tigers anymore nor do we perish if we leave our tribe and strike out on our own.
Today, we may survive if we keep to the same old, same old. But will we thrive?
If we keep resistant to change, our ways of thinking, feeling and being will become more and more rigid. And when change inevitably finds us, if we haven’t developed the flexibility and adaptability required, we will struggle.
Current times show us this better than anything. It’s necessary to be able to pivot, and the quicker the better.
Being agile, able to flow with change, is essential. It’s essential for our mental, physical, and overall well-being.
After all, change is the only constant in life. And since it’s inevitable, we better learn to harness it, rather than struggle against it.
How do we do that?
First, let’s accept that change is a fact of life. We see it in our bodies, in the natural world around us, as well as our lives and the wider world. It’s natural for things to change.
Second, let’s acknowledge that we always have a choice - in how we respond to what’s happening externally. We can choose what we think, feel, do, and practice, which will ultimately drive our results. What we need is a level of awareness so we can make a conscious choice, rather than a habitual (comfort zone) one.
Third, by being aware of the first two things, we can be proactive about the change in our lives. If we take charge of the direction of change in our life, we’re more likely to grow and thrive through it.
- Part of it is mindset.
Asking constructive, growth mindset questions such as “How can I grow through this change? What is this situation asking of me to develop/become? What opportunities are available to me?” and developing the right set of beliefs that will support you as you go through life and especially change of any kind (e.g. “I can figure anything out”, “There are always opportunities in every situation”, “I always have a choice in how I respond to a situation”).
- Part of it is knowing yourself.
What is important to you (your values),
what are you good at (your strengths) and
who do you want to become/what’s that best version of you that you want to embody more of the time (identity),
what do you want/how do you want your life to look like (your goals and desires)?
- And part of it is strategic planning.
Shaping the vision for your life that is compelling and magnetising;
thinking through what you could develop (your potential, your skills) to be in good stead for navigating change, and how could you set up your environment (physical and social) to support your long-term efforts;
proactively building your resilience to skilfully navigate challenging times.
Then brainstorming actual steps to get moving in this direction.
So instead of resisting and complaining, which is exhausting, let’s use our energy to figure out how we can harness the changes happening. Switching from the position of “I don’t want this to be happening” to “I accept this is happening. How can I make the most of this? Where is the opportunity in this?”
Seeing ourselves owning the change, being proactive about the direction of our lives, being open to opportunities, willing to go out of our comfort zone, and adapt, is what will ultimately shape how skilfully we move through the inevitable changes life brings.
At the same time, the feeling of control over our life that this gives us, benefits our immune system and boosts our overall well-being.
Of course we can’t control everything in the world around us, so let go of that unnecessary source of stress.
Let’s focus instead on what we can control - ourselves and our responses. This will create the right balance of surrender and control in our life which will enable us to truly FLOW with change.
Wishing you well,
P.S. Now it's time for you to contribute - Let us know your own thoughts, questions, and experiences of going through change (challenging or enjoyable) in the comments!
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