Change is the only constant in life, but most of us try to hold on to our opinions, images, and expectations of what life should be like. So when change knocks, we not only refuse to acknowledge its arrival but we struggle, resist, and fight so to maintain the status quo. This is especially true when we perceive a particular change as “negative.”
The reason for this is fear.
Of course, fear comes with powerful accomplices of guilt and shame. And ego. Yes, that pesky ego drives us to believe that if we changed, if we failed, if we moved on, if we lost, if we were different, if we forgave — we would somehow be lesser. This way of thinking transforms us into victims: “Why did they do this to me?” “Poor me!” “Why is this happening to me?” “Why do *I* have to deal with this?” “Just as I had it all, the world crashed and burned!”
We feel embarrassed when we don’t win or when things don’t go our way. We worry what others will think of us. Our sense of entitlement prevents us from accepting the reality of change or the fact that challenges, abruptions, and obstacles are unavoidable. And for a good reason.
We curse. We get angry. We lash out at those closest to us. We beat ourselves up. We question our goodness, our skills, our worthiness. We blame. We cry. We feel horrible. We get depressed. And on and on it goes.
All this chatter and emotional rollercoaster miss a single, critical point: change is not only inevitable — it is essential for our growth. It is an opportunity to transform, to be better, to do better.
Change is one big, fat OPPORTUNITY.
And every time we forget this, we miss out and we suffer.
So how do we alter our perception to view change as opportunity and not danger?
By taking these approaches —
1. Acceptance: first things first, calm down. No matter what we do, we cannot stop the earth from spinning or change from taking place. The sooner we accept this, the sooner will our anxiety dissipate and we will be able to see things as they truly are. Acceptance of what is, without opining whether it is “good” or “bad,” is incredibly powerful. It allows us to have the clarity to recognize best opportunities in the midst of, what our ego perceives as, turmoil.
2. No blame. Change is the way of life and it’s not anyone’s fault that it is happening. Blaming others — or ourselves — just perpetuates our pain and victimhood, and prevents us from seizing opportunities. If you catch yourself blaming — anyone or anything for your circumstances — understand that the buses are passing by while you are feeling sorry for yourself.
3. Humility. The world does not revolve around any of us: not the President of the United States, not you, and certainly not me. So why in our right minds would we think that the world will give a damn that change is taking place in our lives? The people who love us will be there with us in good and in bad times. As for the rest, does it really matter? In either case, people are too worried about their own image to even think about us. So, instead of trying to keep up the appearances or resist change to protect our ego (i.e. our status, our image, our reputation), why not find ways to nurture ourselves, focus on the learnings, live in the moment, and look at new opportunities instead of looking at other people and their limited opinions of us?
4. Ask a proper “why?”: Clichés become clichés because they’re true. So, the old adage that “things happen for a reason” is absolutely true. Things do happen for a reason. Instead of complaining about change happening, ask: hmm, what is the reason for this change? What is it teaching me? What good can come out of it? What opportunity can I seize today? What can I do now that I couldn’t before? Let me focus on that, do my best — whatever that best looks like on any given day — and watch as the new chapter reveals itself.
5. Do good. If you are too frustrated with the changes in your own life, do something meaningful, even something big for someone else — provide an opportunity for someone else. Get out of your own head by focusing on another human being. Doing so will show you the power that comes with opportunities and the energy of the person for whom you opened the door will be contagious. It will give you the courage to let go of fear and of your past, and look for opportunities.
Although uncomfortable, change is actually good for us. It allows us to grow, to experience, to benefit from new opportunities. The reality is that our growth will take place whether we like it or not. But we get to choose if the experience will be painful or joyous.
And to choose joy, we must accept what is, resist giving into blaming (no matter how good it might feel at the moment), not give a damn what the world has to say (or not say); ask why this is good (and not build narratives of why it is bad — because it is not bad), and finally, actively look to find opportunities.
When we view change through the lens of opportunity, we welcome it. When we welcome it, more opportunities keep on coming, because every change is now an opportunity, and we become eager to seize them….the fear lessens and excitement appears.