Change: You want me to do what??!

If you could ask a caterpillar what it wants to do with its life, I imagine it would sound something like, “have more food” or “move to a place with no birds”. Nothing in its existence could possibly prepare it for the change that is to come. I imagine that if you could tell a caterpillar what was going to happen, it could either be a completely useless worm…. just waiting for its wings…. OR the incidence of caterpillar suicide rates might climb rapidly.

While most change in the human world doesn’t seem as dramatic as the caterpillars spectacular transformation, change is always, ALWAYS, marked by a period of transition. The old way and new way battle it out. The time frame of this transition depends on the magnitude of the change and can range from a day to a lifetime. Frustration, anger, fear, grief and helplessness are common ‘symptoms’ when learning to do something differently – because we aren’t sure ‘how’ anymore.

Think of these 3 types of change. Change that we initiate ourselves (like learning a new skill), change that is forced on us (like a break up) or change that is called for by our environment (like switching a software system at the office). While all these ‘types’ of change still produce discomfort (transition), which of them feel better to you? I’m guessing the one where you have the power to choose to do it or not. So, if choice makes a difference to how you experience change… how can you use this for the types of change that don’t ‘give’ you a choice?

Remember being dumped? Your partner probably didn’t ask you if it was OK for him/her to dump you… they just went right ahead and ripped your heart out. The change process from being in a relationship, to being single is a highly emotional one (that Bridget Jones and every single romcom can attest to). Maybe the future DOES hold a better partner, maybe the future IS better without your ex in it… and maybe it really is for the best… but we can’t see it that way in the beginning. It would be like asking that caterpillar to immediately sprout wings and fly off into the sunset. Impossible!

All you can really do is put your chin up and make it through a day at a time. Remind yourself that it is a nasty process and give yourself time to adapt… until the change becomes more normal. How we deal with transition IS a choice. You can choose to cry and withdraw (which is fine) – or you can choose to put on a brave face (which is also fine)… choose the best way for YOU.