Change as a catalyst

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

by Gwen Randall-Young

Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong. – N.R Narayana Murthy

Buddhists say that all human suffering comes from one of two things: attachment and the inability to accept change. The problem here is that change is the only constant. We do get attached to people, things, situations and ideas. Sometimes, when change is not of our own volition, letting go can be like trying to get something out of the closed fist of a toddler. Even when we know we should let go, a part of us keeps holding on and resisting the change.

The more we are identified with the old, the harder it is to accept change. A relationship ends and we are no longer part of a couple. Children leave home and we are no longer their caregivers. There are similar losses if a job ends or even for some when they retire.

Life can be like a series of mirages. That oasis in the desert changes as we get closer. Life situations change as we move forward. Nothing stays the same.

It is easy to feel grief, sadness, hurt or resentment when things change. When change feels like loss, it can feel like there is a void in our lives. We do need time to process those feelings. However, it is important not to stay stuck there or to identify ourselves with the loss.

Like the child who held on tightly to something the mother felt was not good for her to have, when it is gone, it feels like now there is nothing. The child may cry, but something else soon commands her attention.

In a sense, we can think that when change happens, it is part of our destiny and it is time to focus on what is next. Think how often people stay in an unhealthy relationship or in a job they hate because change can be very difficult.

What if change means we are supposed to be starting the next chapter of our lives? Yes, it can be very unsettling if we have no idea what that chapter is about. We cannot hope to start that chapter, however, if we keep rereading the old chapter hoping this time it will have a different ending.

If a friend stops talking to us, maybe that is in our best interest. A job layoff might mean finding a job we like better or meeting some really nice people. The end of a relationship may mean it is time to develop more independence and focus on our own journey.

Think of that void I spoke of earlier. Instead of a vast emptiness, we can see it as an open space just waiting for many new people and experiences. Instead of feeling empty handed, we can see those hands as being ready to receive.

“That is all well and good,” you might say, “but I am not confident and don’t know how to bring new people and experiences into my life.” Fair enough, but maybe you are in this spot as that is the next thing you are meant to learn.

Remaining in a comfort zone stunts growth. We have this one lifetime in which to learn and grow.

It is never too late; we are never too old. Change can be an important catalyst propelling us towards something new. And that is what keeps us vibrant and alive at any age.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.

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