Like most people, I have a tendency to overestimate my capacity to handle change. Most of us reckon ourselves strong and able to roll with whatever life throws our way. Personally, I can preach the “Change” sermon any day. But then sometimes, it does swing by, packaged in a way that I had never envisioned and demands to be lived through, my responses oft times light up the sky.
33 months ago, my life was full; I was a high energy single lady, climbing up a corporate ladder, with a loudly-abuzz social life, deep involvement in the cause of my local church, a full throttle engagement to empowering a group of women under my wing and a solid umbilical-cord connection to my mentors. I couldn’t have asked for more. But as I have discovered, the one thing that I am assured of in this life is “Change”.
And so Change did come by. First, it was the corporate world; it was time to leave the organization I’d worked for seven years. Almost simultaneously, years of skillfully single living were rendered redundant – I was as wet-behind-the-ears as any girl can be on her wedding day. Soon to exit too was the empowerment forum from which I was impacting the women. My social pool suddenly dwindled. A whole lot dwindled. A shifting relationship with my mentors swung by as well. Then I began a new business.
Now, in my simple thinking I expected to kind-of just breeze through the changes that were happening in my life. So when I found myself reacting in less than ordinary ways to the myriad things happening in my life, I finally began to realize that something was a foot. I was in transition, moving from one level to another. I needed so see that, accept it and live like it.
Number one thing that I needed to understand was that Change is a good teacher. Nonetheless, a student in class only begins to appreciate the lessons learnt once they begin to apply them. My discoveries have not made wish away or regret the “Change seasons”; rather have made me desire to handle Change even better.
One of the things I have learnt is that in order to get better at my present, I have to learn to let go of my past. We all have a tendency to drag our past experiences, expectations, frame of minds, desires, habits e.t.c into our current level of life. But to handle transition, the past must stay in the past. Our minds and heart must be directed to the new thing happening in our life. Your energy cannot be channeled to the past and still expect positive movement in the present. Accepting that change happens and that it works out for our good is priceless.
Another thing is that if you had responsibilities or served in a position in your past, a proper hand over is vital. Hand over and then leave. Do not interfere, no popping in to check on “your projects”, no remote control leadership. This all so often stalls closure on your part. It also stifles growth of what you left behind. Shocking as it might sound to you, life does move on after you leave; sometimes gets even better. Not that you can never get involved in past projects or assignments. But it must be very clear who is in charge. And that is not you.
In my journey of Change, I had to learn the Greek-version of the word “forgiveness”. Change can get messy. This is because human beings are a naturally messy lot. They are imperfect. So when going through transition, taking things lightly is paramount. I had to learn not become a reservoir of negativities and all things gone wrong. If there are long-time relationships involved, it’s crucial to understand that none of us possess the ability to figure out and fix all the needs of another human being. People will not be able to meet all your needs; from that listening ear you need to a loan for your new business premise. Chances are that someone will say and do something wrong. Someone will cut you loose sooner than you expected. Life will feel a little more complicated than normal. I quickly learnt that by letting go, I was not doing anyone a favor; rather I was freeing myself from that dreadful claw of an unforgiving spirit. I was just helping myself, becoming a better person. Justice would come by later.
It was important that I allow myself to grieve. If you are like me, you may want to deal with all emotions using a sledgehammer. That is, vanquish it to oblivion by “man-ing” it up. Or pretend that emotions do no exist. But the fact that human beings have the capacity to feel, to hurt, to cry, to scream, does mean that those capacities will get activated once in a while. And once they are activated, it makes good sense to just let it out. Maybe four miles on the road jogging does it for you. Or a house cleaning whirl. Maybe six hours of tears in the pillow, a kickboxing class… So long as you are not shooting anyone dead, let it out. Otherwise, that suppressed hurt and or grief could end up as a cancerous lump in your liver.
Allowing Change to change me was crucial. A newly wed, with no job, a struggling new business venture, a yawning chasm in her heart where her capacity building group once existed, uncertain relationships… I was being stretched in all angles. It took a long while for me to stop fighting the changes happening in my life. So long as I was fighting the Change, I would never change internally. Not that all the changes happening around me felt nice, but accepting that there was nothing I could about some of them was freeing. Some things in life I can change, others I cannot change. I had to learn the difference and live with it.
Lessons learnt in hard times tend to stay the longest and serve the highest purpose. It’s during Change that our character can grow the deepest. We learn things that we never knew existed. Since we have walked the long patched road alone, we now know how to walk it with someone else. We know how badly we desired to have our side of story heard, so now we know how to hear other people who are walking in our shoes. What we received in our dry days, we now know how to give it to others in need. And by the end of the day, the world has one less immature person.
If am to get better at life, I must get better at handling Change. Like most of us, I find change uncomfortable. But since it’s never about my comfort, but about the better person I can become out of it, am finding it better to just learn what needs to be leant and then move on.
What Changes are happening in your life right now?
How are you responding?
How can you respond better?