Change is change. It’s not loss. But we often feel the two simultaneously, in divorce or death for instance, as in – with one, comes the other – with change comes loss. When a person dies, we often say, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Change means things will be different, which in itself doesn’t dictate whether my life will be more or less, better or worse. I decide that part. I guide that part.
If I believe “different” means I’ll have less (love, intimacy, laughter) it might cause cause me to get under the covers and never leave. However, if my beliefs support my connection with someone, whether I’m with that person physically or not, that makes things infinitely easier.
If change means I’m moving, and I must leave these flowers I have planted, and I view moving away from my flowers as difficult, I mourn the loss of them.
On the other hand, if I believe that change means “more, new, different,” and I imagine planting flowers at my new home as I leave this one, I add to my joy, and to the beauty of this world. I become the Johnny-Appleseed of flowers.
If I leave this home, with this beautiful view, and fear not having a beautiful view in my future, my heart aches.
Have you ever noticed that thinking small feels perfectly awful, dreadful, unbearable — and why shouldn’t it?
Feeling bad is a soul signal. It’s a signal that I’m thinking in a way that could use a little ease. I’ve scrunched my big beautiful self into a too-small package of possibilities. It’s uncomfortable. It should be, ’cause something’s not natural about how I’m thinking.
But here’s the thing.
I am not interested in pretending. I want real change. I want to feel better and mean it.
How do I shift my thinking authentically? I’m not interested in simply pasting a cheery smile on my sad face. That’s not gonna work for me.
To begin the process (and yes, it is a process…) there is one easy thing I can do.
I simply question the thought that’s causing worry or stress.
I ask myself “Is it true that moving means I lose a beautiful view… moving means I won’t have a beautiful view in my future?”
No, I can’t know that for sure.
I repeat this to myself slowly, to let it sink in. “No, I can’t know that for sure…”
I am worrying about something that hasn’t happened and might not happen. I’m concerned about something that isn’t even true!
Knowing this, having this dawn on me, causes a sunrise in my heart.
How beautiful it is to know I don’t have to believe my stressful thoughts. How full of light. How inspiring. Imagine burdens dropping, baggage falling away, balloons of hope rising. It’s nice to know I needn’t spend my valuable time on a made up, manufactured worry.
Truth is, there is an endless array of beautiful views to be had in this world, so many sunrise mornings and sunset evenings ahead of me. My new home and new life will bring new views. Who knows what those views will be?
Thinking this way feels better because it’s expansive. My heart opens, my blood flows, and I breathe deeply as I stand in the wild flowers of welcoming. Here in this field of endless color and beauty where the entire Universe is my ally, I can feel the powerful support of All-That-Is.
If I love the sparkling clear crystalline sound of the early morning wood thrush in my beloved forest on top of my beloved mountain, and the thought of leaving this sound (and my mountain) is disheartening, I cry. (Seriously, I do.) I weep that I might no longer hear this bird family relating in song.
Is it true that if I move, I lose the wood thrush? Or bird song?
No. I can’t know that for sure.
I could meet more singers with my next move. Who knows.
I do know that I had not yet met the wood thrush before I moved here. My move to this mountain introduced me to one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard.
Here is another recording which explains how the wood thrush makes such exquisite sounds.
I know the wood thrush because of change, and I can only imagine what my next change will bring.
At the recent Spiritual Summit here in Asheville, initiated by Unity of The Blue Ridge, one of the main speakers hinted that she “was going through some things” and was learning to experience change as something other than loss. She didn’t explain her circumstances, but spoke briefly about her relationship with her husband, and that the two of them would “just have to see where this goes.”
She shared that she was learning how to go through change differently than she had in the past. She spoke of the idea of experiencing change as a contribution to her life rather than a loss, and knowing her a tiny bit as I do now, she’s got a great deal at stake.
I truly appreciate her approach. I’ll have what she’s having.
DOES CHANGE REQUIRE HEAVY LIFTING?
This is the part of change that most of us groan about.
The effort required to initiate a significant change can seem overwhelming. A cross-country move (or any move), a search for new employment, or making changes for better health, for instance, require time and energy.
But is it true that change takes effort? Is it hard?
For sure, “doing” is hard work if I’m not on board with a change I believe I need to make or feel forced to make.
I’ve noticed that changes I’m not wild about take work and often include false starts, re-thinking and do overs. (Not to mention exhaustion.)
ON THE OTHER HAND
However, if I welcome change and what it will bring, if my heart has found peace with “new and different,” then flowing with what’s ahead is more like heading down a mountain instead of climbing one. The process is easier.
It’s more like allowing myself to go downstream to where I’m headed anyway, instead of battling rapids going upstream. (And how crazy is it to go against the river of my life?)
Going downstream gives me assistance instead of resistance. I let the stream do the heaviest work.
Either way, the fact is I’m moving in a new direction. The only qualitative difference in how things will turn out is the story I tell.
BUT WHAT ABOUT POP-UPS?
During any change process, there is that pesky problem of pop-ups. Do pop-ups rain on your positive parade? What then?
Negative thoughts pop up. Stressful thinking pops up. Doubt or worry pops up.
It’s OK. It’s natural. This happens to everyone, everyone, everyone.
So let’s talk about relaxing around what our minds do during change.
If a thought appears — kind or unkind, blaming someone or totally responsible, limiting or expansive, heavy or light, concerning loss or gain — so be it.
Notice the thought. Receive it. Sit with it.
Then question the thought.
I question the thought so it can let go of me.
I don’t have to work hard to make the thought go away. I needn’t discipline my thinking. It’s not required that I keep a stiff upper lip or pretend the thought isn’t there. I don’t have to do a big, elaborate process about it, get out my sage and burn it away, or do an exorcism.
All I do is question the thought.
Here’s an example.
Today, I’m rolling merrily along and a pop-up thought arises that my coming changes will bring a diminished life. I am only one person now. It was better when there were two of us.
The thought family floats in. I see it. I welcome it into my heart and sit with it.
Then I question it.
Is it true that the circumstances of my life, the quality of my life, the daily experience of my life will be less — tomorrow or the next day?
No, I can’t say that. I have no idea. For all I know, I’m trading up.
The moment I question my thought, “feeling diminished” lets go of me. It releases. I can feel it in my body, mind and heart.
Or how about this one. The pop-up thought occurs that my coming changes will be too much work both physically and emotionally and I don’t have the energy to make more deep changes so soon after Eric’s passing. The thought says, “Moving is too much… widow’s rules say this and that…”
I question my thought. I don’t argue with it. I don’t tell it that it’s not a legitimate thought. I don’t disagree. I don’t send it away. I don’t put my foot down and refuse the thought. I don’t try to positive-ize it.
I simply ask, “Can I know that’s true?”
As a matter of fact, I can see how this big change could be easier than I might think, and ultimately benefit me — sooner rather than later. Moving and downsizing could make it easier to focus on the writing and speaking I will do in the future.
I remind my mind that I didn’t make the world.
I didn’t make the rain, the stars or the moon. I didn’t make the wood thrush or this mountain or the stunning sunsets or sunrises I see every day. Neither did I make the loving stream that is carrying me. The stream of life is here for me. It will continue to carry me, guide me, help me. I am thoroughly, completely and fully supported.
And now, in the words of my Summit sister, we shall see where this goes…