Every day I feel like I’m turning inward to embrace change and outward to embrace the support around me.
It’s difficult to describe the very essence of change, the transformative process that begins when we start taking apart our lives piece by piece.
Change has become very important to me, and I find that when I lean into it rather than run away from it, I am blessed beyond measure. At the same time, I’m reaching out to embrace the support around me, and building stronger relationships with the people I love as I move toward a new kind of life.
When we seek growth and change in our lives, however, our work is never done. We’re constantly excavating our inner lives and finding barriers that need to be examined in order for us to move forward.
I recently expressed my frustration with the growth process to a friend by stating that I felt tired and overwhelmed with the amount of work that it takes to move forward. I told her that I just wanted to finish the work and be done. Her words resonated so deeply with me that I felt a shift in my very core, dislodging even more barriers to examine!
She said that as long as I am looking at the work of change as work and as a challenge, as long as I’m dreading the effort that it takes, I cannot fully receive the blessings. She said that she has begun to greet the work that she needs to do in her life as an opportunity and as a sign that new blessings will soon manifest in her life.
Greet the work as a friend?
See it as an opportunity?
It had never occurred to me that the difficult work of changing and growing could be perceived in any other way but drudgery and pain.
As I reflected back on the last year of my life, a year where I relocated and filed for divorce and turned my whole life upside down, I realized that every time that I took a risk and put the hard work into my own growth, I was greatly rewarded. Leaving my marriage resulted in a more peaceful existence for myself and my children. We were rewarded with a wonderful community to be a part of and many new friends to share our lives with. When I took the risk of writing about my experiences, I found acceptance in the form of publication and then validation as readers began to reach out to express how much my experience resonated with their own. At every stage of growth, I found my life improving.
Yet, I still greet the process of change with fear rather than excitement.
My most recent struggle has been with learning to let go, to surrender and to sit with my struggle. I am working to allow my feelings to come and go, rather than reacting with judgment or denial. I no longer allow myself to run away from what I’m feeling or to cover it up with something else. I don’t compartmentalize my life in such a way that I don’t have to do the hard work of addressing my feelings. Instead, I’m learning to just feel them. I’m learning to allow myself the latitude of just being sad or lonely or angry. I’m practicing acceptance for the fact that I’m not always confident or happy.
As we excavate those darker feelings, the ones that make us uncomfortable, we begin to free ourselves from the burden of judgment. We’re no longer telling ourselves that we shouldn’t feel this way or that way. We’re no longer holding ourselves to the unreasonable standard of constant happiness. Instead, we’re accepting that all of these emotions are a valid part of our human experience.
Not only do we have them, but we share them with others. When we speak out to communicate about our individual experiences, we often find that we’re not alone in them. Others share the same pain, the same challenges to their own growth. When we reach out and begin connecting about our experiences, it often acts as both a source of comfort and a source of motivation to do the necessary work of healing ourselves.
In my work as a former therapist, I often encountered resistance to change. Or, rather, resistance to the work required by change. Manifesting change in our lives means being willing to put in the hard work of examining our own thoughts, feelings and actions. Instead of looking around us for someone or something to blame, we instead have to look at how everything we do impacts the lives that we lead. Every moment of our lives we’re making choices. We choose what we wear and what we eat, how we handle our work and how we interact with others. All of the choices add up to define the kind of lives we lead. When we want to change our lives, we have to change what we’re doing rather than expecting the world to change around us. Often, it means changing the way we think and learning to understand why we feel the way we do.
My friend’s words kept coming back to me. The blessings in my life couldn’t come as long as I was blocking them with my attitude about the work. As long as I was feeling dread and not excitement, I was still resisting the change. What if she is right? What if the very fact that I have work to do means that there is something good about to happen? What if every struggle is simply a sign that we’re going in the right direction?
***Stop for just a moment. I’m not talking about red flags. Red flags and intuition should never be ignored. I’m talking instead about the realization that we have more work that needs to be done. When we realize that we have an old hurt that needs healing, we’re being shown the way to something positive manifesting in our lives by acknowledging and working through that pain rather than denying it and hiding it away. ***
For a moment, I was overwhelmed by the idea that my current work is the work itself and learning to change my attitude toward it. The thought of that was mind boggling but also somehow comforting. It seems that once again I’ve been getting in the way of my own progress by struggling against it rather than simply experiencing it.
We keep going deeper, excavating more of ourselves. It’s the only way forward. My friend’s words echo, and I hope they are of benefit to you as well. When we are challenged with changing ourselves, we can be sure that the blessings on the other side of that change will be worth all of the effort. I’m holding on to that as I sit with my discomfort. I’m clinging to those words as I make my way down the difficult path of experiencing feelings I’d rather ignore. I’ll keep turning inward, seeking out that change. And I’ll keep reaching out, holding on to my support. I know the blessings are coming. I know that this is the essence of change.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editors: Travis May; Nicole Cameron