The Times are Changing

June 28, 2015  •  2 Comments

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new -- Socrates

The only constant in life is change. As much as we sometimes would like to avoid change, the fact is change finds us whether we are looking for it or not. In the process of change we grow, we learn, we enjoy the moments we are given each day, we love.  Confronting change in our life takes courage. Many other worthwhile endeavors also take courage.  Creativity takes courage, compassion takes courage, connection takes courage.  The greatest problem associated with change is it presents us with fear.  Change takes us from the safe comfortable places that we know and requires that we move into a not so comfortable place, a place we must reside for a while until we confront the challenges the change is presenting us.  Resisting is futile, if we attempt to stay in our old safe place we can't, it doesn't exist anymore.  The ground has moved.  The real challenge then is not to fear change but rather embrace it as an opportunity for growth.  This is a difficult process.  It is so easy to become paralyzed by our fear.  Regardless of the change we experience, loss of a new job, loss of a relationship, the death of a loved one, the moment we are faced with the end we often become frozen in the moment.  Our fight or flight response kicks in.  We look to blame others for the circumstance of our change and/or we want to run away and escape the change.  

In the moment when we recognize the end of a relationship, a job, a life; the grief process grabs a hold of us and won't let go.  Grief is a process of struggle where it is difficult to walk your way through the complexity of emotions that life changes have produced.  The suffering, distress and regrets we experience are all part of walking through the grief and ultimately accepting the changes created in our life.  In his book Good Grief, Granger E. Westburg outlines the following stages of grief.  From the first stage of shock through the final stage of affirming reality, Westburg discusses the process, (and yes it is a process not a 10 step program that if followed step by step will render one free from grief) that each individual must walk through.  Many loss models will list the final stage in the grieving process as acceptance.  While I believe acceptance is important in the process, what is vital to understand is that acceptance means accepting that there will be a "new normal".  The previous routines of life will be different, they will change.  For this reason, I like how Westburg defines the final stage as affirming reality.  This does not mean that a person becomes their "old self again." When anyone goes through a significant grief experience, they come out as a changed person.  Life won't be the same, but it is important for them to reaffirm what is good in their life.  It is important to realize that everything good has not been taken from them. As the struggle to affirm reality begins, a person should be encouraged not to be afraid of the real world anymore.  This stage is a spring board for personal growth, for accepting change and moving towards new beginnings.

 The following loss model outlined by Westburg, more accurately depicts the message in Good Grief and shows us that as we make our way through the change that grief presents we may at any time find ourselves at any point on the continuum experiencing any and all of the emotions listed in the center of the diagram.

 

 

Yes we should grieve the losses in our life, grieving is a healthy and necessary process.  What is important to understand and be mindful of is each person's need to experience the grief process in their own time.  When a family member passes, each person will experience the grief differently.  There is no time table or exact process that can be walked through where a person suddenly reaches their affirming reality.  When we experience the loss of a relationship we each grieve it differently.  To find acceptance in the grieving process is to embrace change.  Change is the opportunity to be courageous. Change has occurred and in the process of moving forward we do not forget our loss, we take the memories, we take the experiences and we move forward accepting change and use it for our own personal growth.  

Now, I could wrap this blog up now having sharing this important information, but I think we need to explore a bit more about how we react to this grieving process.  What captures us and keeps us from moving through this process?  What keeps us from having courage and finding a level of acceptance?

The answer?  We need to stop hiding.  We need to get out of our comfort zone of grieving and embrace change.  Just like when we played hide & seek in our youth, we would hide to be safe.  It is so easy to hide in our grief.  "But I just lost my Dad, I'm out of work, my significant other left me, I didn't get the promotion at work, I am all alone"  these are all our "safe" spots that we use to justify our resistance to change and that keep us from moving forward.  Back to the hide-and-seek game, when we were "found" we would run to reach "home base" before being tagged so that we could be "safe".  The reality is in life we need to be found, we need to run free and not worry about who or what "tags" us along the way.  Do we need to feel safe?  Yes, but we also need to be free to explore, to learn, to grow.  

Change is difficult, but not changing is fatal.  All great changes are proceeded by chaos.  In the process of change and chaos we grow, we learn, we enjoy the moments we are given each day -- We love and are loved.

What change do you need to embrace?


Comments

Born to Fly Girl
We tell ourselves it is a safe place, but really it is toxic to our growth and our ability to move forward. It is when we openly talk about it and admit to ourselves that grief is driving our emotions that we can be free to heal.
Vicki G(non-registered)
Wow, I never thought of grief as being a safe place to hide, or get stuck. That's a good point. Grief certainly forces itself on a person, and forces change as well. Hopefully, we can accept change and move forward in due time.
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