Change is perhaps one of the most difficult things that we ever have to do, and we often will do almost anything to avoid it.
For those of us who are in the midst of change (personal or professional) it is important to settle into what really scares us and stop trying to avoid the feelings. We know from current brain research that we don’t do well when our feelings overwhelm us. They basically shut down our ability to think clearly. It is only when we are conscious of our feelings and how we are reacting that we can make a change.
Here are some simple steps to help move through change:
1. What am I feeling and where am I feeling it?
We need to be aware that we are having feelings before we can work through them. More than likely what we are feeling is fear, so it will be helpful if we can get a sense of what kind of fear (there are many kinds) and where it resides in our bodies. Be as specific as possible. Dan Siegel talks about how our nervous system is interconnected throughout our bodies and the more aware we are of that connection, the more conscious we can be of our reactions.
2. What is the trigger (or the origin) of the feeling?
Feelings have this way of being global, so we think that it is being reflected all around us when it might only be about one thing. (Think about how when you are late it seems like every traffic light is out to make you later.) Focusing on the trigger of the fear will help you be more rational about what to do.
3. What is my story?
When we are triggered by change, it is usually attached to a story (“I’m no good,” “I’m going to fail,” “I should have seen this coming,” etc…) and that story has a way of writing our future. When we get caught unaware, that story can be extremely powerful. The good news about stories is that they aren’t fact. The bad news is that if we are unaware, we can make them fact.
4. What can I control?
The answer is usually “not much.” There is a lot of surrender to this part of the process, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to do. Our fear is usually about wanting to control the outcome (which is usually in reaction to the story), so the sooner we let go of the story, the quicker it is for us to jump into actionable solutions.