Bringing about Change in Your Life

Have you even notice how we look forward to change, yet something in our nature strongly resists it? Change is more like a journey than an event; whether change happens, or we make it happen it’s not easy.

The motivation to change comes differently to each of us. The inspiration to change comes differently to each of us. As we go through life, whether we encounter change through separation, illness, loss, or initiate change starting a new job, a new career, a new relationship, psychotherapy becomes most useful by bringing an understanding to the process of change.

The key point is that you are the person who knows best; you have the tools and the answers to work through your life’s issues. A therapist simply assists you in navigating change. The Process of change happens through a heightened awareness of the interaction between body, mind and heart. When such awareness is honed, change takes root and you naturally become the positive change.

Be the change you want in the world    –Gandhi

Honoring Life Transitions

Transitions are a natural and inevitable part of life—when we leave something old and familiar and eventually find something new and unfamiliar. Most transitions are small and pass by almost unnoticed. Some, however, involve major disruptions in routines and force us to reexamine our values and lifestyle.

Transitions commonly involve the stages outlined below.

Letting go of old, familiar ground
This is a time of endings, a time to break old patterns. At this stage we say goodbye to familiar people, places and routines. Most of us try to avoid endings—and this may be surprising since endings happen throughout the entire life cycle. We may feel sad, anxious, fearful, or angry. This is an uncomfortable but necessary part of transition. Allow the feelings of loss to surface. And above all, be gentle with yourself. Things are going to get easier.

Nothing seems to be happening
It’s time to go within. We may feel lost, confused, and disoriented, and may even seek treatment for depression. At this stage we often aren’t connected yet to the new and aren’t yet disconnected from the past. The neutral zone is a period of personal re-orientation. Learn more about yourself. Spend time alone. Go for walks, read, and write. Allow yourself to experience what you feel. Keep searching. Look for external signs to guide you into a new beginning.

Exploring new interests
Things are beginning to shift. We may feel curious, optimistic, and ready to try something new. We start looking for new experiences. We tentatively experiment. We encounter new paths, new people, and new environments. Support your hunches and interests—consider traveling, taking a class, and reading up on new interests. New directions start emerging in your life. Follow your intuition.

Embracing unfamiliar ground
Here we have a clear direction. It’s time to take action. We have identified the new course and see the process through step by step. Things may change pretty quickly. The past becomes our resource into the future. We now feel energized, passionate, and full of potential. We are using our creative powers to bring about a new reality.

Transition is a cycle, and we pass through these stages over and over again. The best thing we can do is acknowledging the stage we may find ourselves in and take care of ourselves accordingly. Therapy and self-reflection can be effective ways to make the most of our transitions.

Rumi says:

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

Bringing Acceptance into our Lives

When we feel overwhelmed or shut down we are usually caught in habitual patterns, behavior and stories that separate us from our lives. It’s as if we were in a bird in a cage.

The way out of our cage begins with accepting everything about ourselves and our lives, by embracing with wakefulness and care our moment-to-moment experience. […] It means feeling pain and sorrow without resisting. It means feeling desire or dislike for someone or something without judging ourselves for the feeling or being driven to act on it (Brach, 2003)

This process starts with becoming aware of the sensations in our bodies. By paying attention to unpleasant sensations we eventually come to realize how we hold on to stories and behavior that perpetuate our suffering.

When we meet these sensations and accept them for what they are, they begin to loosen. Instead of resisting or avoiding the unpleasant sensations we can open up to them, letting them be and allowing them to shift. This way we free ourselves from the stories and separation and experience what is like to be fully present and connected in the present moment.

Working with Resistance

Change often brings about fear and resistance. We fear the unknown, how things may turn out, and struggle against it.

The reality is that no matter how we hang on—to our life, our loved ones, our possessions—everything changes.

By understanding this underlying truth, we can be less anxious and relax into the ebb and flow of life. We can begin to see change less as a threat and more as an opportunity to discover our world’s tremendous richness.

Creativity comes from Opening

Life is often busy. We feel we need to rush through our daily activities and we don’t have any time to waste. Occasionally something gets in the way and it seems like a problem.

If we slow down and open our hearts, we may notice that daily life is rich with messages and possibilities. Paying attention helps us tune into this richness and respond creatively.

By simply showing up in this way we can engage in the art of everyday life.

Considering Different Options

Our patterns, thoughts and beliefs with our relationships to our families, our wealth, our society, and ourselves have caused us many problems and suffering. Learning to identify and work with these habitual patterns is the key to transforming our relationships.

Here are three steps to assist the process of transformation

  1. Notice what you are doing. Pay attention to how you respond habitually to any event in your life.
  2. Do something different. Consider responding to the event in a very different way. This will loosen up the pattern.
  3. Make it a way of life. Keep doing something different. This will bring about your own wisdom, strength and fundamental goodness of hearth and mind.

Pema Choldron suggests:

Whenever you see yourself spinning off in some kind of habitual way, you could aspire to catch yourself and do something different as a way of cultivating compassion for yourself and compassion for others. But don’t be surprised or give up when it’s difficult.

It takes courage to undertake this journey; however, it will open up different options so that we can choose to do it the habitual way that causes us suffering or choose a fresh alternative that transforms us along the way.

Exploring Doubt

Whenever we are going to make changes in our live, it is natural to encounter doubt. Through acknowledging and exploring our doubts we can awaken greater understanding of what we bring to the path of moving forward.

Doubt is unlike from critical thinking. We bring an end to the exploration with doubt whereas we keep looking further and moving forward with critical thinking. Experiencing intense doubt is generally a result of not trusting ourselves and not trusting the world; therefore doubt can be a blockage on the path.

When we trust the world, relax our firm grip on ourselves, and focus on to the details of reality in the moment, we begin to notice that the world speaks to us and reflects our trust. There is an exchange with the alive, vibrating energy of the world.