Meeting Change with Lovingkindness

Change shakes up our sense of identity. Who am I now that my role as mom no longer takes daily attention? Or now that I’ve left that old job, landed that great promotion, lost my best friend, decided to go after that big dream?

No matter what the change is, what once gave shape and structure to our lives is now gone. When we say goodbye to an old structure that has held us, it can be tempting to leap into planning, strategizing, organizing next steps so we can move forward. 

Don’t leap just yet.

Photo Credit: nnoeki via Pixabay

Photo Credit: nnoeki via Pixabay

Now is the time to pause. The time for action will come. In fact, it is just around the corner. For now, give yourself space to honor the good-bye.

This is a vulnerable time, a precious time. Even if it’s a positive change, there’s still the loss of what was.

In the mess and the goo of loss there can be fear, grief, uncertainty. The earth can feel unsteady beneath our feet. What we’re experiencing is all new and it can feel like there’s no map to navigate this new terrain.

This can be hard, painful, unpleasant in so many ways. Sometimes that impetus to quickly move on is a reflex to avoid what’s unpleasant. Every part of our animal instinct tells us to get away from what’s uncomfortable. The primal fight, flight or freeze response tells us to get the hell out of this moment. A useful reaction if in fact we’re being hunted as someone’s dinner.

Not so useful in this moment. 

The grief, fear & discomfort that accompany the early stages of change call for a simpler, gentler, more internal response.  

This is the time for loving self-care.

Maybe your situation doesn’t allow for a full stop. Maybe it does. Maybe some actions need to be taken toward next steps. Maybe not. It’s worth taking a hard look at any assumptions or “have to’s” running around in your mind. As you do, consider these alternatives to rushing forward.

Rest: Slow down, get a massage, take naps. Spend a few minutes doing nothing but noticing the flow of your breath. If you’re like a large percentage of our population, you’re sleep deprived, some of us dangerously so. Add the effects of stress and the bottom line is – your brain needs rest. My bet is, your body needs rest too. You’ve worked hard to get here. Mentally, emotionally, physically. Let yourself rest.

Be Here:  Just this. Right now. This moment. See if you can let yourself be with only that much of your experience. Let planning for tomorrow, wait until tomorrow. What happened yesterday, last week, last month or last year is done, gone, unchangeable. Your best chance for learning from the past and giving your best to the future rests right here, in tending to this moment with kindness. 

Comfort:  Treat yourself to soothing experiences. Take a hot bath, go for gentle walks, spend some quiet time in nature. Wear soft clothes. Bask in the sun. Listen to music you love. Give yourself the space to breathe, allow the tension to melt away and your emotions to unwind, release, and flow. Connect with spiritual support in whatever way is meaningful for you. 

Patience:  Be patient with yourself. Give yourself time. Release unrealistic demands you might be inclined to place on yourself. Let the optional tasks fall off your list for the time being. Be honest with yourself about what’s optional. Then, just to be sure, run your “must do” and “optional” task lists by your best friend, who just might have a different perspective. Let your actions come from a place of peace. Let things unfold naturally rather than forcing them.

 For a little while, treat yourself with the tenderness you would give to a newborn. Give yourself all the love, kindness and compassion you so easily give to others. 

You’ll know you’ve given this stage of change the space it needs when you feel ready, feel drawn to move forward.  

Trust yourself.

You’ll know.




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