Updated: Dec 2, 2020
It has been said that change is the only constant in life. Change can be a deliberate choice we make or it can be thrust upon us unexpectedly such as in the loss of a loved one through death or divorce, the onset of a life-altering illness or the end a career due to downsizing. When change is your choice you can prepare for it, but when life changes without your consent, it can be dramatic, distressing and painful. Forced change is not only shocking, it can lead to anger, resentment, sadness, fear and illness. Fortunately, radical change can also be one of life’s greatest teachers if we look for the lessons to learn, use it as a catalyst for personal growth and face it with a possibility mindset.
So how do we go about regaining our equilibrium when we have been shaken to our core? First, we fall apart. Then we pull ourselves back together and move in a new, and often better, direction. Change that rocks your world can also shake you awake!
So, how do we find the lessons we are to learn after a radical change? It is important and courageous to allow yourself to feel whatever emotions arise from your loss. The challenge is to not get stuck in the muck of anger, resentment and bitterness. Once you acknowledge that your life has been altered in a radical way, you can move toward acceptance and begin to reflect on your new possibilities. You may not understand the why of this painful situation until much later in life, but you can choose to accept there is a reason that will be revealed later. As I reflect on my life, the best things in my life today are all a result of painful changes in the past. I have learned that sometimes involuntary change is just life giving you a second chance for greater happiness.
When change has been thrust upon you, choose to step forward into growth. Personal growth is the foundation of emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual health and well-being. Change does not always lead to personal growth, but personal growth will always change you— on the inside and for the better. Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor, said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” When we veer, or are pushed, off of our normal path, we can discover new opportunities for happiness and fulfillment. Change can be positive or negative, but personal growth is always positive and can move you toward a more joyful, meaningful life.
You can allow yourself to be a victim of change or you can seek new possibilities. The choice is always yours!
~Dr. Linda Peterson, PhD, MHC, Life Purpose and Wellness Coach,