Yes, change is all around us…for better or for worse. Of course we all feel change from our own perspective. We are a product of our life experiences in that our mind, body and perhaps our soul are literally shaped by the events of our life and how we have adapted and changed in response to those events. Many have come to believe that our universe is composed of positive and negative energy and as a part of the whole we vacillate between the two and our periods of neutrality are experienced only in transition from one to the other. Some of us tend to be more positive while others are more negative.
Under normal circumstances the vast majority of us, while being desirous of positive change in our lives, would rather be whipped till dark than to make those changes even when the path is clearly laid out for us. As we progress through the various stages of life on our journey from birth to death we may not be aware of our changes until we look back upon our lives to see how far we have come. We make major changes usually only when we are forced to do so in response to significant events in our lives. Such events may be experience as a crisis in our lives.
A crisis may be thought of as being an event or series of events that create a loss or threat of a loss for us. Minor crises may hardly be noticed if at all. The event may be a joyous occasion such as a wedding, the birth or a child or the launching of your son or daughter into adulthood and the changes me make as a result may tend to be more subtle and not be immediately apparent. We are more acutely aware of crises caused by negative events such as the death of a loved one, financial loss or major illness or injury.
A crisis has the effect of pulling the rug out from under us and the feeling is much like the feeling of falling. We know we are going to hit bottom but we don’t know when or how hard. We are temporarily overwhelmed and immobilized and respond with the whole gamut of emotions: anxiety, fear, grief, guilt and anger to name a few. Our feelings of anger can be particularly problematic in that we may not want to express it inappropriately and in events such as the death of a loved one or, in the case of natural disasters, there may not be a convenient object for our anger. Consequently, we tend to bottle up our feelings and may turn them against ourselves.
Holding feelings inside is much like blowing up a balloon. With increased air more strength is required of the balloon and it will eventually burst. People may not burst but they will utilize their strength and energy to contain those negative feelings, strength they need to devote to stabilizing their situation. With major crises in particular, our adjustments are broken down and we may be like a ship without a rudder. We feel confused in our efforts to sort things out, and much like a drowning man, we may “grab at straws” so to speak in an effort to solve problems. Even though at such times we may feel as it we are going crazy, the good news is that this situation is temporary and, given enough time, we fall back on our old ways of coping with stress, make new adjustments and, for better or worse, get on with our lives. There is at least one certainty when a crisis occures. Change will happen.
Any change is an opportunity for personal growth. In times of change we may not be well grounded and,when exploring new territory, may tend to feel unsure about our sense of judgment. In such times we need to understand what is happening to us. There is a lot of security in knowing that we are not going crazy, that what we are experiencing is a normal response to unusual and unfamiliar circumstances. We can benefit from guidance and direction from that someone who can help us sort out what the alternatives are to resolving problems and carefully consider the consequences of each alternative. Good information about what we are experiencing is essential and with the guidance and support of a helpful and caring individual we can explore healthier and more effective mechanisms of coping with stress. Given information, guidance and support along with an understanding of alternatives and consequences of certain choices, we can make good decisions and have the opportunity to make new, and hopefully, more positive and functional adjustments to our life situation thus experiencing positive change and personal growth. During this process the love and support of family and friends is invaluable.
It is important to remember that when change is all around us we have a golden opportunity for positive change and personal growth in our lives.
Lee Parent, LCSW