Archive for change

Embracing Change Without Suffering

September 8th, 2016wordswag_14732919424231

I’ve been reflecting on change quite a bit recently.  This year has been full of changes for me and my family.  The two most significant and emotional changes have been the loss of my sister Lori back in January and the purchase of our new house a few months ago. 
 
While these two experiences are very different in so many ways, they have each had a profound impact and have pointed out some things to me about how I deal with change, loss, and more.
 
My sister’s death has been hard, painful, and surreal.  And although I still find it difficult to believe she’s gone and her death definitely falls into the category of the type of change I didn’t want, wasn’t expecting at this time in my life, and wish hadn’t happened, I’m continually amazed at the growth, healing, gratitude, connection, and love that has been inspired within me and around me through her passing.  Even in the midst of the pain there has been real beauty.  It’s a huge change and one that I’m still navigating my way through tentatively and vulnerably.
 
The purchase of our new house, on the other hand, has been exciting, gratifying, and wonderful – we love it and feel so blessed.  As you may know and  I have written about in the past, we lost our house back in 2011 after getting ourselves into a very difficult financial situation.  Buying this new house is not only exciting in all of the normal ways buying a new house can be, it is a real triumph for us and something that seemed almost impossible just a few years ago.
 
As excited and grateful as I am about the house, I’ve been a bit surprised by how upsetting and unsettling it has been to make this purchase and to move (even though we just moved 3 miles away).  Of course I know from past experience how stressful it can be to buy a house, and how exhausting and overwhelming moving can be.  However, as I take a deeper look at this, I realize that this is more about how I relate to change and how easy it is for me to go into a place of suffering when faced with pain, loss, fear, uncertainty, or other intense emotions I often get scared to feel (i.e. try to avoid).
 
In the scheme of things, even as big of a deal as buying this house is to me and us, the death of my sister is much bigger.  And, although Lori’s passing is definitely something that I (and just about everyone else) see as being “bad” and buying a beautiful new house is something I (and just about everyone else) see as being “good,” I’m noticing that I can suffer about either one of them (or not), and it’s based much more on me and the story I’m telling myself, than it is about the actual circumstances.
 
In looking at both my own relationship to change and to change in general over the past few months, I think we tend to put “changes” into different categories.  We separate them into “good” and “bad.”  Good ones usually come in the form of new things we want – relationships, opportunities, experiences, accomplishments, etc.  And, bad ones usually show up as rejections, losses, disappointments, failures, and any other number of things not going the way we think they “should.”
 
Clearly getting a new job, moving to a new city, achieving a big goal, or falling in love are very different than losing our job, getting divorced, failing miserably at something important, or having someone close to us die.  However, regardless of the situation, all of these things (and others) are changes – some big, some small, some we want, some we don’t. 
 
Almost all changes, even the biggest and best ones, involve pain and loss of some kind.  At the very least, they almost always involve fear.  We tend to seek and fear change at the same time, which is one of the many reasons it can be emotionally confusing. And, as I’ve been seeing in my own life significantly this year, change, especially big change, often involves suffering.  The suffering, however, isn’t actually due to the pain, fear, or loss itself; it’s usually a result of our avoidance of our feelings.
 
When we actually acknowledge and feel our pain (and don’t avoid it, run from it, pretend it’s not there, or rush to “fix” it) not only how move through it, it often nourishes us in the process…we grow, heal, evolve, and become stronger. However, when we don’t feel our pain (and the emotions connected to it), when we make up all kinds of fear stories about it (and ourselves), or, even worse, when we think it “shouldn’t” be there…we suffer, big time. As our late friend Debbie Ford used to say “Whatever you can’t be with won’t let you be.”
 
What if we stopped running away from the pain, fear, loss, or whatever else it is we don’t want to face or feel?  These things aren’t fun or easy to face, and we often need a lot of support, compassion, and courage to do so.  However, much of our power in life is tied up in our pain.  When we’re willing to lean into it and actually feel it, instead of thinking it will take us down (as we fear it might), it almost always builds us up and allows us to transform. 
 
As Haruki Murakami famously said, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”  We don’t have to suffer as we go through change – we can embrace it, be real about how we feel, and reach out to those around us to stand with us as we face the fear, pain, and discomfortAnd, when we do this, we liberate ourselves and give other people permission to do the same.
 
How do you feel about change?  How about pain and loss?  Share your thoughts, feelings, and insights about this below.

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If You’re Trying To Prove It, You Don’t Believe It

June 26, 2014

My counselor Eleanor recently said to me, “Mike, if you’re trying to prove something, it means you don’t actually believe it yet.” Her words hit me right between the eyes, as they often do. She was right and as I reflect on certain aspects of my life, I can see that where I’m overly attached to proving myself, it’s because I don’t actually believe in my own skill, talent, or value (i.e. I’m looking for outside validation to “prove” my worth)…maybe you can relate to this?

In this week’s video blog, I talk about this phenomenon and how we can move from “proving” to “believing” in an authentic way.

Check out the video below and feel free to leave a comment here on my blog about it. You can share thoughts, questions, ideas, insights, or anything else that this video inspires.

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Forgive Yourself

April 30, 2014

nothing-changes-until-you-do-pintrest38In December of 2011, I decided to head up to Calistoga for a few days. Calistoga is a small town in Napa Valley, about an hour from where we live. For the past few years, Michelle and I have each gone up there occasionally by ourselves for some personal retreat time. It’s been a great self-care practice that has benefited us both individually and as a family. It’s amazing how taking just a few days away can help me put things in perspective, recharge, and reconnect to what’s most important in my life.

That December was an emotional time for me. It was the end of what had been a tumultuous year, filled with big highs and big lows. My mom had died in June, we did the short sale on our house in August and moved, and life had changed for us in many significant ways. Even with the difficulty and intensity of the year, a lot of really good things had happened, too. It felt like life was moving in a really positive direction for us.

As I took some time to reflect and go within, I realized I was carrying around an enormous amount of resentment, most of which was directed at myself. I took with me to Calistoga some old cassette tapes of an audio program called “Forgiving Yourself,” which I’d actually never listened to when I’d purchased it many years before. The tapes talked about being hard on ourselves, and being critical and harboring resentment toward ourselves—all things that I’d done quite a bit throughout my life. Based on the suggestions of this audio program and my own insight and awareness, I spent a lot of time over the course of those few days writing in my journal and meditating, all with the specific intention of forgiving myself.

I started to write down a long list of things that I wanted to forgive myself for—being harsh and critical of some of the people closest to me, being annoyed and unkind to my girls at times, worrying about all kinds of superficial things, doing harm to my body over the years, not taking good care of myself, making mistakes in my business and with our finances, not practicing what I preached in my work, and on and on the list went.

As I wrote these things down in my journal, initially I was concerned that it was simply just my gremlin taking over and listing out all the things that were “wrong” with me and all the reasons why I was “bad.” But as I allowed myself to engage more deeply in the process, I realized that what I was doing was simply telling the truth about all the things I’d been judging myself for. This was my attempt in some way to let go of the resentment I was holding toward myself. I was trying to move into a place of forgiveness and, ultimately, freedom. And while I wasn’t sure if I knew exactly the “right” way to forgive myself, I decided to simply ask, in my writings, my prayers, and my meditations, to be forgiven. Before I went to bed at night, I would ask for the weight of this self-criticism and negativity to be lifted off of me.

By the time I left Calistoga, just a few days later, I felt 50 pounds lighter. Just a few weeks after that, I had my very first session with my counselor Eleanor. As Eleanor and I began to work together, which we’ve continued to do over the last few years with wonderful results, she began to explain to me the nature of growth and change.

“Mike, as you grow, change, and evolve, here are the basic steps involved in the process: recognize, acknowledge, forgive, and change. First,” she said, “you must recognize what’s going on and what you’re doing. This is about seeing and about authentic awareness. Then you acknowledge the impact of what you’re doing with compassion and without judgment. This is about feeling your emotions and owning the impact. Then,” she said, “the most important step in the process is forgiveness—a willingness to forgive yourself. Self-forgiveness isn’t about letting yourself off the hook, it’s about caring enough to take a deeper level of responsibility. And when you do that, you’re able to forgive yourself authentically. The fourth step,” she continued, “is change. However, if you genuinely recognize, acknowledge, and forgive, the change pretty much happens on its own, and you don’t have to—nor do you get to—control it. Change is the result of authentic forgiveness and authentic forgiveness is about releasing the past and all the stories you have associated with it.”

Then she followed up with the kicker: “Unfortunately, what you often do, Mike, and this is true for many people, is recognize, acknowledge, punish, and repeat—instead of forgive and change—which keeps certain negative patterns in place in your life and causes you a great deal of pain and suffering.”

The truth of what Eleanor taught me resonated deeply and we continue to talk about it in our sessions today. Since that initial conversation, I’ve been consciously focused on forgiving myself as well as releasing the past and all of the stories I have connected to it. Given that I’ve got many years of experience of not doing this and still have a tendency to be hypercritical of myself, as many of us do, self-forgiveness continues to be a challenge for me, although it’s getting easier. It’s a practice, and like any practice, the more we do it, the easier it is and the more effective we become.

The more willing we are to take an honest look within—to recognize and acknowledge our self-sabotaging ways and to forgive ourselves for them—the more likely we can begin to change in an authentic and powerful way. Self-forgiveness makes it possible for us to forgive others and to live our lives with a genuine sense of freedom, peace, and love.

This is an excerpt taken from Nothing Changes Until You Do, by Mike Robbins, with permission. Published by Hay House (May 2014) and available online or in bookstores.

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There’s No Right Track

file0001992978583February 28, 2013

(For this week’s audio podcast, click here.)

I was talking to a mentor of mine a few weeks ago and I asked him, “Do you think I’m on the right track?”  He said to me, “Mike, the issue isn’t whether or not you’re on the ‘right’ track; it’s that you think there’s a ‘right’ track to begin with.”

As we talked about this more and I began to think about it in a different way, I realized that so often I find myself striving for this insatiable “right track,” as if there’s some place I’m “supposed” to be and some outside authority who can validate it for me.

While there’s nothing wrong with us seeking guidance, feedback, and support from mentors, friends, family members, coaches, counselors, teachers, experts, and more – the deepest truth is that our deepest truth comes from within.  It seems to be less a matter of making sure we’re on the “right” track and more a matter of living in alignment with who we are and what’s most important to us.

With all of the ideas, opinions, and influences around us (and in our own heads) living in authentic alignment isn’t always the easiest thing for us to do.  Here are a few things to think about and practice to deepen your capacity for this:

1) Listen to your inner wisdom 

How many times in your life have you thought to yourself, “I should have listened to my intuition on this?”  Often in hindsight after we’ve made a mistake, had a lapse in judgment, or experienced something painful, we realize that at some level we already knew it would turn out that way, we just didn’t listen to our instincts.  Whether it shows up as a gut feeling, intuitive hit, or just a thought, our inner wisdom is keen and important.  The more willing we are to listen to this inner wisdom and pay attention to it, the easier it becomes for us to live our lives with authenticity, truth, and alignment.

2) Trust yourself 

It’s one thing to pay attention to your inner wisdom and a whole other thing to actually trust it.  This same mentor of mine said to me a while back, “Mike you actually do trust yourself at a deep level, you just don’t trust that it’s safe to trust, which then causes you to doubt yourself.”  So often we let our brain, our logic, or the feedback of others override our deeper knowing and gut instincts.  While it’s not always easy to do, trusting ourselves and our inner guidance is essential in our journey of life and growth.  The more willing we are to listen and to trust the wisdom that comes from within; the less likely we are to give away our power to others and to the circumstances/situations of our lives.

3) Be willing to change 

Change is a funny thing in that most of us seek it and fear it simultaneously.  As much as I like to think of myself as someone who embraces change and is flexible, I often find myself quite resistant to changing.  And, one of the biggest things that can stop us from going for things, being bold, and making commitments in life is our fear of changing our minds.  Ironically, the more we embrace change the more authentically we’re able to commit and go for what we truly want.

Right now, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, however you’re feeling, and however “good” or “bad” you think you’re life is going, you’re not on the “right” or “wrong” track – you’re simply on the track you’re on (i.e. your life).  When we let go of our judgment about where we are and where we think we “should” be; we’re able to appreciate our lives, the people around us, and ourselves in a genuine way.  And, if there are changes we want to make that we believe will enhance our experience of life, we can make them from a place of truth, love, and wisdom.

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Nothing Changes Until You Do

KnightsJanuary 24, 2013

(For this week’s audio podcast, click here.)

In a recent session with my counselor Eleanor, she said something simple, but profound to me; “Nothing changes until you do.” She went on to say, “Mike, you keep trying to control and manipulate the situations, relationships, and outcomes in your life – thinking that if they changed in the way you want them to, you’d then change and things would be better. It actually works the other way around.”

The truth of Eleanor’s feedback resonated deeply with me and I’ve been contemplating it for the past few weeks. I realize that much more of my attention than I’d like to admit is focused on my attempts to change the circumstances, situations, and people around me – instead of focusing on the only thing I can really change, me.

As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

We’ve all had this experience in our lives in both big and small ways. Do you ever notice how when we’re having a bad day or a rough time in life, even the people and activities we normally love, don’t bring us the same amount of joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction? On the flip side, when we’re having a great day or things are going really well in life, even people or circumstances that might normally upset or annoy us, somehow seem much more manageable and less stressful. In those simple situations, our perspective and our own internal state, has a big impact on how we experience life, not the other way around.

What if we put more attention on our own growth, change, and transformation – and less attention on trying to fix, change, and alter the people and circumstances around us? This doesn’t mean that we’d stop caring about what other people do or say. It also doesn’t mean we wouldn’t give feedback or make requests of those around us. And, we wouldn’t stop working towards specific changes, goals, and dreams related to the most important aspects of our lives – our work, our health, our finances, our family, and more.

However, by letting go of our insatiable desire to fix and change everyone and everything around us, we give ourselves the space to focus our attention on the true source of our own happiness, success, and fulfillment – ourselves!

As we come to the end of this first month of the new year, many of us are still quite focused on our intentions, goals, and resolutions for 2013. As great as the accomplishment of any specific goal may be, what we’re almost always after with our resolutions, is positive and sustainable change.

As the saying goes, “The roots create the fruits.” This means that it’s our job to focus on our own growth, development, and internal transformation – and in so doing, we put ourselves in the best possible position to create the kind of change we truly want. Nothing changes until we change!

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Do You Embrace Change?

November 15, 2012

(For this week’s audio podcast, click here.) 

How do you feel about change?  If you’re anything like me, you probably have mixed feelings about it.  While it often depends on our perception of the type of change – big or small, good or bad, needed or unnecessary, easy or hard, etc. – most of us seek and fear change simultaneously.

I’ve recently been dealing with quite a bit of change in my life – both big and small.  Building my new website, which on the one hand is a pretty small change in the scheme of things, ended up being a very big change for me and allowed me to take a deeper look at a number of things about myself, including my relationship to change in general.

The decision to create a new website was pretty simple and clear – my old one was outdated and a new one was long overdue.  In practical terms, not having an updated website was probably costing me some business and credibility.  In addition, the type of website needed for my business is pretty simple and straightforward.

However, the actual process of creating the new website (even though it’s something I’ve done a few times in the past and was eager to do now on many levels) posed two major challenges for me personally.

First of all, I tend to be a creature of habit, especially when it comes to things I don’t totally understand or have the skills to do myself (like build new websites).  Instead of embracing change with technology, I often find myself avoiding the uncomfortable feelings associated with not knowing things or being dependent upon others to do what I don’t have the skills to do myself.

Second of all, the biggest reason I’ve avoided creating a new website for the past few years has been my resistance to getting new photos taken and new videos filmed.  As I’ve written about before, one of the most significant ways self criticism shows up in my life is related to my appearance.  Getting photos taken and watching video of myself has never been my favorite thing, but in the past few years it has become even more challenging for me as my aging process has included the thinning of my hair – a change I’ve had a hard time embracing and something I’ve definitely considered “bad.”

The thought of getting new photos taken and posting updated videos of myself online has often been accompanied by the voice of my inner-adolescent saying mean things to me like, “You’re ugly,” “People will laugh at you,” “No one will take you seriously,” “You don’t look as good as you used to,” “You should be ashamed of yourself,” and more.  Not fun or kind at all – maybe you can relate to this in your own life?

While I have chosen to “embrace” the change in my appearance in my real life by shaving off most of what’s left of the hair on my head, something about posting new photos and videos on my website seemed even more scary and real to me – hence my resistance and fear to actually doing it for the past few years.

Going through the process of confronting these fears (i.e. getting the new photos and videos done) wasn’t all that easy or fun.  However, like most things in life, facing these fears has been incredibly liberating and not nearly as painful as I thought it would be.

While I can’t honestly say that I’ve completely transformed my relationship to my appearance and made peace with how I look, I can say that this process has been a big step for me in embracing the changes to my appearance (and to myself overall), and has enhanced my capacity for embracing change in general at a deeper level.

Our ability or inability to deal with change effectively is directly related to our relationship to change and our relationship to ourselves.  We spend a great deal of time focusing on the circumstances, situations, and details of the particular changes we’re facing, instead of taking a deeper look at what’s going on for us emotionally, which is where both the impact and the resiliency needed to deal with the change exists.

Here are a few things to think about and do to enhance your ability to embrace change:

– Acknowledge and express your emotions.  Change is fundamentally an emotional phenomenon, much more than a practical or logistical one.  Whenever we’re dealing with change – big or small, good or bad – it’s our emotions that drive both our experience as well as our effectiveness in dealing with it (or lack thereof).  The more willing we are to acknowledge, own, and express the real emotions we’re feeling in relation to the change itself, the more able we are to both move through and learn from the change we’re facing in a positive way.

– Get support from others.  It’s always easier to deal with change when we remember that we’re not alone.  Whether it’s practical support, emotional support, or both – we always have people around us we can reach out to and ask for help.  Many things that are scary and challenging for us are easy for others.  Remembering that we can lean on others when we’re going through change is essential for our own well-being, sanity, and overall success.

– Take conscious and courageous action.  Staying in action, in a conscious and courageous way, is an essential aspect of moving through change effectively.  We sometimes get stuck in fear, perfectionism, or both.  When we stop taking action, it’s easy for the critical voice in our head (the “Gremlin”) to take over and convince us that we can’t do it, everything is messed up, it won’t work out, etc.  If we let the Gremlin take over, we give away our power.  By staying in action and doing so in a mindful and bold way (not simply rushing around to avoid our feelings or just doing things in our comfort zones), we remind ourselves that we have the power to deal with whatever change we’re facing.  As the late Susan Jeffers taught us all through her bestselling book, one of the best things we can do in life is “feel the fear, and do it anyway.”

As the saying goes, “the only constant in life is change.”  It seems that now more than ever, so many of us are dealing with change in our lives personally, professionally, and all around us.  If we’re willing to address these changes with a sense of authenticity, compassion, and courage – remembering that it’s not about being perfect, it’s about being real – we give ourselves a chance to not only deal with change effectively, but to embrace it in a way that allows us to grow, develop, and become more of who we truly are.

What changes are you currently facing?  How are you embracing them (or not)?  What support do you need?  Share your thoughts, insights, comments, questions, or advice here on my blog in the “leave a reply” section below!

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Embracing Powerlessness

June 7, 2012

(For this week’s audio podcast, click here.)

In a recent session I had with my new counselor Eleanor, she said to me, “Mike, it sounds like embracing powerlessness is something that would benefit you right now.”  When she said this, a chill went down my spine and my body tightened up.  “What do you mean, ’embrace powerlessness’?'” I asked.  “Why would I want to do that?”

Powerlessness seems almost like a dirty word to me, at least to my ego for sure.  Priding myself on being a “powerful person” and in the business of “empowering” others, I couldn’t imagine what embracing powerlessness even meant, let alone see the value in doing it myself.

Even with my fear and resistance, I continued to listen to what Eleanor had to say about this.  She went on to say, “Allowing yourself to feel powerless doesn’t mean you are powerless.  In fact, the more willing you are to embrace the feeling of powerlessness when it shows up, the more authentic power you’ll be able to access.”

She then taught me a simple meditation/visualization technique to embrace the feeling of powerlessness (for specifics about this technique, click here to listen to my audio podcast where I explain it in detail).  I’ve been using this technique for the past few weeks and talking about it with people close to me.  It has been incredibly liberating.

Through this process, I’ve realized that in many of the areas of my life where I’ve struggled and suffered most, one of the key factors has been my inability to acknowledge, express, or embracemy feelings of powerlessness. Instead of embracing powerlessness, I often end up erroneously attempting to force outcomes or results in the name of being “responsible” or “powerful,” when what is usually really driving me is fear and control (hence the struggling/suffering).  Can you relate in any way?

I recently heard the author, speaker, entrepreneur Chip Conley give a presentation at the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco.  He opened with the serenity prayer, which I appreciated and heard in a new way – “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”  I’ve always had a bit of a reaction to this prayer and its underlying wisdom – not wanting to fully acknowledge the idea that there are actually things I cannot change.  However, this prayer is all about consciously embracing our own powerlessness and there’s true brilliance in its simplicity and insight.

What if we stopped pushing against, resisting, and fighting with the things we think need to be changed about life, others, and ourselves – especially those things that are out of our control?  What if we were able to bring a deeper level of acceptance and serenity to the difficulties and challenges in our lives, instead of piling onto them (as well as ourselves and others) with loads of judgment, pressure, expectation, and more?

It’s incredibly liberating when we’re able to acknowledge and express our true emotions, even the ones we may not like, such as powerlessness.  We tend to have lots of stories, beliefs, and real hierarchy when it comes to emotions – deciding that some are “good” and others are “bad.”  The reality is that emotions are positive when we express them in a healthy way and negative when we suppress them, hold them back, or pretend we’re not feeling them.

We’ve all had lots of positive experiences in life when we’ve had the courage to express our fear, sadness, anger, and more (i.e. the “bad” ones).  We’ve also had negative and painful experiences when we’ve withheld or suppressed our love, excitement, passion, gratitude, and others (i.e. the “good” ones).  Maybe it’s less about the emotion itself and more about our willingness and ability to express it in a healthy and authentic way.

It’s also important to remember that human emotions aren’t sustainable.  They are meant to be felt and expressed.  Once they are felt and expressed, however, they pass through us beautifully.  This is why we often feel much better after a good cry (see my post on “The Benefit of Tears”).  The more conscious we are about our emotions and the more willing we are to express them authentically – the happier, healthier, and more alive we become.

As I’ve been allowing myself to embrace and express my own feelings of powerlessness, even though it has been a bit scary and uncomfortable, especially at first, I’ve been experiencing a deeper level of peace and power in regards to some very stressful and uncertain circumstances I’m currently facing in my life.  And, embracing powerlessness in general has started to shift my entire outlook and is liberating me from a great deal of undue pressure and expectation that I’ve been placing on myself for many years (i.e. most of my life.)

How can you start embracing powerlessness in a positive, empowering, and liberating way in your own life?

Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, actions, and more.

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Embracing Change

May 26, 2011

(For this week’s audio podcast, click here.)

We recently went into escrow on our house, but don’t yet have a new house to move into.  As excited as we are about our move (just across the San Francisco Bay from Concord to Marin County), it feels pretty scary to not yet know exactly where we’ll be living next month.

With this big change and a few others coming soon, I’ve been noticing how I deal with and relate to change.  I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship to change.  I love the excitement, growth opportunity, and newness of change.  But, at the same time, I can easily fall into states of worry, fear, and overwhelm when facing change, especially big ones.

How do you feel about change?  While it may depend on the specific change (i.e. one we want versus one we don’t want, or one that seems exciting versus one that seems hard or even “bad.”), most of us seek and fear change simultaneously.  Even positive changes can be unsettling or even downright upsetting. And, while each of us has a unique personality and perspective, many of us tend to be creatures of habit.

Change is one of the main “constants” in life, ironically.  However, we don’t usually spend all that much time thinking about our relationship to change or specifically expanding on our ability to adapt to change – we usually deal with it from a place of survival, reaction, or necessity.

What if we embraced change more consciously and learned how to not only “manage” it, but thrive through it.  Whether you’re someone who enjoys change and handles it quite well, or you hate it and get totally stressed out by it, all of us can benefit from embracing change more deliberately and supporting those around us as we all go through the big and small changes of life – especially these days.

Here are some things you can do and think about as you deal with change in your own life – so as to more effectively and peacefully deal with it when it shows up.

– Become consciously aware of your relationship to change. Knowing how you deal with change, what stresses you out about it, what allows you to navigate it most effectively, what kind of support you need as you move through the change process, and more, are all important elements of embracing change.  It’s rarely the circumstances themselves that cause us stress or difficulty; it’s our relationship to them. By altering our relationship to change, we can become much more peaceful and successful in dealing with it.

– Acknowledge and express your true feelings (especially your fear). When change occurs, there are usually a number of different emotions we experience.  We tend to focus most of our attention on the details, specifics, and circumstances, not so much on our emotions. However, it is our emotional experience and reaction that dictates much of our effectiveness (or lack thereof) in dealing with change.  Whether it’s something we consider “good” or “bad,” fear is almost always associated with change, because we’re moving into something unknown and often uncomfortable.  By acknowledging and expressing our fear (and other emotions) in an authentic way, we can take back our power from the situation, get real about how we’re feeling, and move through it with more ease and grace.  There’s nothing wrong with any of the emotions we experience during change, the problems begin to arise when we don’t express our emotions authentically.

– Get support. As with most things in life, change is much easier to deal with when we get help.  We don’t have to go through it all alone and there are probably many people in our lives who have gone through similar changes before and can support us in the process.  Asking for and receiving help from other people can be challenging for many of us and can feel quite vulnerable.  However, one of my favorite sayings is, “The answer’s always ‘no’ if you don’t ask.”  Getting support not only makes dealing with change easier for us, it allows other people to be of service, which is something most people love to have the opportunity to do in life.

– Look for the gold. There is “gold’ in the midst of every change – even the most painful and difficult ones.  When change is more “positive,” it can seem easier to find the gold in it. However, positive change can also be tricky because we don’t understand why we still may experience fear or discontent and sometimes won’t acknowledge these and other feelings due to our own embarrassment.  With change that is more “negative,” it can often be hard to find or see the gold.  When dealing with difficult changes in our lives, being able to authentically get in touch with the gifts, blessings, and growth opportunities available to us can help as we navigate our way through the experience and also allow us to evolve in the process.

Have empathy and compassion for yourself and others in going through change. It’s not easy for most of us.  By embracing change we become not only more effective in dealing with it, but more peaceful, present, and powerful in our lives.

How do you feel about change? How effective are you in dealing with change?  What can you do to embrace change in your life in a more peaceful and positive way? Share your ideas, commitments, thoughts, dreams, and more on my blog below.

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Transform Your Fear

May 5, 2009

Fear is something that we all experience throughout our lives, especially on our journey toward deeper authenticity.  Being who we really are, expressing ourselves honestly, being bold, and going for what we want in life can cause a great deal of fear in us.

I get scared all the time.  When I was younger I thought there was something really wrong with me because I would get so nervous – in sports, in school, in social settings, and more.  I now understand that everyone else experiences their own version of the same basic fears I have (being judged, making mistakes, looking bad, failing, disappointing others, and more).  It’s just part of being human.

Many of us run away or hide from our fears because they seem scary, uncomfortable, or embarrassing.  We also erroneously think we “shouldn’t” have them or that we are somehow “wrong” for feeling scared.  However, most things that mean a lot to us in life don’t show up without any fear at all.  And as we strive to live with authenticity, it’s inevitable that we’ll experience quite a bit of fear along the way.

The question isn’t whether or not we experience fear in our lives (because we all do and always will for as long as we live); the more important question for each of us to ask and answer is, how can I move through my fears in an honest way so they don’t stop me from being who I really am and going for what I truly want in life?

How to move through your fear in a positive way:

1) Admit it – Acknowledge your fear, tell the truth about it, and be real.  When we feel scared and are willing to admit it with a sense of empathy and compassion for ourselves, it can often take the edge off and give us a little breathing room to begin with.

2) Own it – Take responsibility for your fear and own it as yours, not anyone else’s.  We often have a tendency to blame others for doing or saying things that “scare us.”  However, when we remember that no one else can “make” us scared – only we have that power – we take back the responsibility and the power of the fear and remember that it exists within us, so we are the only ones who can change it.

3) Feel it – Allow yourself to feel your fear, not just think about it or talk about it (something I often catch myself doing).  Feel it in your body and allow yourself to go into the emotion of it, even if it is scary or uncomfortable.  Like any emotion, when we feel our fear deeply and passionately, it has a way of dissipating.

4) Express it – Let it out.  Speak, write, emote, move your body, yell, or do whatever you feel is necessary for you to do to express your fear.  Similar to feeling any emotion with intensity, when we express emotions with intensity and passion, they move right through us.  When we repress our emotions, they get stuck and can become debilitating and dangerous.

5) Let it go – This one is often easier said than done – for me and many people I work with.  Letting go of our fear becomes much easier when we honestly admit, own, feel, and express it.  Letting go of our fear is a conscious and deliberate choice, not a reactionary form of denial.  Once you’ve allowed yourself the time to work through your fear, you can declare “I’m choosing to let go of my fear and use its energy in a positive way.”

6) Visualize the positive outcomes you desire – Think about, speak out loud, write down, or even close your eyes and visualize how you want things to be and, more important, how you want to feel.  If your fear is focused on something specific like your work, a relationship, money, etc. – visualize it being how you want it to be and allow yourself to feel how to ultimately want to feel.

7) Take action – Be willing to take bold and courageous actions, even if you’re still feeling nervous.  Your legs may shake, your voice might quiver, but that doesn’t have to stop you from saying what’s on your mind, taking a risk, making a request, trying something new, or being bold in a small or big way.  Doing this is what builds confidence and allow us to move through our fear.

Fear can and does stop us in life – from being ourselves, speaking our truth, and going for what we really want.  But, when we remember with compassion that there’s nothing wrong with us for getting scared and when we’re willing to lean into our fears with vulnerability and boldness – we can literally transform them into something that catapults our growth and fulfillment in life.

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