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 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…
Imagine a vast field of wildflowers waving in the wind at the base of a mountain range. You’re walking a clear path through these wildflowers while contemplating the mountain before you. Your stroll on flat land is steady, and you relax in the surrender of now, understanding that the approaching mountain will change everything.
As you stroll through the soft beauty all around you, you think about how your lungs will adjust as you climb. Your blood flow will increase, your pace and stride will change. What’s coming might feel intense even as you contemplate rising to the task. You wonder if the physical part of you pulsing and breathing will have a thing or two to say about what this climb will require.
It’s OK, nothing’s wrong, everything you’re thinking and feeling is a natural part of negotiating a changing landscape.
Your mental and physical self hums along on easy terrain, until suddenly you begin the climb you’ve only been thinking about. Everything about you is changing now because you’re no longer on flat ground, you’re heading up, up, and receiving different stimulation.
Your mental thoughts (or opinions) about the climb begin to kick into gear. Maybe you find yourself thinking that returning to flat land would be a really, really good idea about now. Or maybe you stop thinking altogether and enter “the zone.” Your body kicks into high gear and it feels terrific.
On a different climbing day, your physical body (lungs, muscles) might rejoice, might not. What’s true on any day is that on flat land, your mind and body had your established pattern all worked out and automated, and now you’ve challenged it!
Change creates inner chaos right down to the cellular level.
Expect it. Welcome it.
Deliberately changing a response to your husband is like climbing, it changes everything inside you, not just your words or actions. Your usual responses to him are the flat land of wildflowers, and your new responses and realizations are the equivalent of climbing the mountain.
Your decision to change, along with new action, creates an inner flurry (new chemicals released) and suddenly you’re not in Kansas anymore. Why? Because how you think and how you feel don’t quite match up yet.
Give it time, and they’ll match. Meanwhile, the ripple effect of your decision and subsequent action will most likely feel new, awkward, unsure. It could feel weird, not correct, maybe even wrong.
This is natural! You’ve gone from flatland to, well, UP.
(Author’s note: Prior to this section, there was a full discussion about cellular/chemical change in the body in response to the decision and action of changing. This wildflower section is meant to be an illustration of previous information. Lifting an excerpt out of the book is always a bit risky!)
THE STRENGTH OF MOMENTUM
You’ll probably be amazed at the strength of the flat land pattern of what you’ve always said to your husband. It’s strong and it may wash you right back into how you’ve typically responded to him. Momentum is a tall, deep wave and you’ll deal with that wave when you make conscious changes in your behavior.
Even if you’re really awake and aware, your mind may try to talk you into putting your hand into the cookie jar of the past. It will do that becauseit’s built to do that. It might even launch sneak attacks or employ brilliant back door methods to usher you back, back, back to staying the same. You know, to maintain the status quo and all! The mind is a cheerleader whose drill is hooray for sameness!
This is how we do the hokey pokey of change. Step one, we put the right foot in, we slow down, we surrender. Even when we put the right foot out, and shake it all about (change things up), we’re getting there, we’re on the path.
Now for the left foot…
(This is an excerpt from Terri’s book for women with multiple marriages, due out in 2017.)
We’re sailing along in life, and BAM! Suddenly, we’re off the tracks. Whoa! It’s messy. There are consequences. Temporarily, we’re a little worse for the wear and maybe others are, too.
My life is falling to pieces.
I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.
I had a relationship (or fill-in-the-blank) and now I don’t.
Derailing or hitting the wall means we’ve come to the end of something and the beginning of something else. We’ve produced a result that brings how we usually do things front and center. Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at what brought us to this point. Being “up against it” gives us a chance to take a look at our default modes — how we usually respond, what we usually do or say, think, or feel. How do we typically show up in life?
Coming to a fast stop is almost never pretty. There is the matter of collateral damage. And it’s hard on the contents of the plane, train, automobile or person. Life as we know it comes to a screeching halt.
The good news? Being off the track or brought to our knees is (yes, always) helpful. Revealing. Life-changing.
If I don’t know that I’m on a track that’s taking me to where I don’t really want to go, then stopping my speedy, run-away train is a really good thing.
This idea of being brought to our knees, or hitting the wall, or derailing might happen around health issues. Let’s say I’m rolling along, and BAM! I’ve got the flu. It’s miserable, I’m in bed, can’t move, everything hurts, can’t open my eyes, can’t sleep, can’t eat.
When this happens, I’ve got to re-arrange my life. All those important and unchangeable meetings, appointments or activities — yes, they change. They yield.
Or I’m sailing along and suddenly a major health issue (way more than the flu) appears on my horizon. It’s a shock and I don’t like it, but here it is. I’ve got to figure out how to include it, improve it, deal with it.
In any of these situations, there is a moment of reckoning — a re-evaluation, a shift. “Wow. I thought I was perfectly healthy….”This happens in relationships, too. Things are moving along as they always do, and then one partner drops a bombshell.
“I’m leaving you.”
“I’ve decided I need time alone to figure things out. Let’s take a 3 month break from each other. I’ll set you up in an apartment.”
“I need to be alone, so why don’t you take a long trip and have some much needed time for yourself as well? It would be good for both of us.”
“This isn’t working. It hasn’t been working for a long time. I can’t do this anymore. I’m done.”
Yep. Change is Messy.
What To Do About The Mess?
1. Do whatever gives you relief, even it it means that you pretend the disaster or impending disaster is not happening.
Go ahead — practice denial. I’m perfectly serious about this. (Don’t tell your therapist I said that. But hang in there. Read on….)
Here’s the general idea — take your attention off the issue. For now, operate as if there has been no change, no derailment, no bad news. This will give you some relief. And to move anywhere you really want to go, relief is what you need.
And when you’re relieved, it’s easier to breathe. And breathing keeps you alive. Breathing is good.
Relief helps everything, anything, every time. Personal practices that melt difficulties enough to get things moving in a positive direction:
Do less, BE more
Give yourself a break
Put down the sledge hammer
Take your critical foot off the gas
Take yourself off the hook
Heck, take everybody off the hook
Be nicer to yourself in every way possible.
I pinky promise. I know this for sure.
2. Suspend conclusions.
You’re sick, but truth-be-told, you really have no idea why, even if the doctor told you. Your partner has walked out on you, but you really don’t know the whole story, even if they gave you reasons. Your company is reorganizing, and won’t be needing your services. You have no idea, really, what’s in store for you, even if it was all written in a company memo.
In the middle of the panic, the fear, the “what am I going to do about this” it’s nigh on impossible to see the big picture. Don’t expect yourself to see it. Let alone embrace it! It’s not your job in this moment. Meanwhile, throw those emerging and possibly persistent (negative) conclusions in the trash. Immediately.
Coming to negative or limiting conclusions sends you into what I call “future ugly” so why not stay here in this moment, and put pretty little wings on the nasty negative conclusions and tell them to fly, fly away. The mind will give you a hassle about this, but be patient. Just keep throwing conclusions about how this happened, what you shoulda done, coulda done, or what this all means about your current or future life directly in the trash.
It’s also OK to let yourself sit in “I don’t know…” or “I’m taking one day at a time…” It’s OK not to talk to people about it. It’s OK to let the whole thing sit. Keep discarding whatever helps you navigate toward neutral.
3. Pay attention to your positive and negative emotions. They are your helpers, your guides, your north stars.
In a nutshell, if you have negative emotion, think of it as a signal that you’re thinking in a way that’s not going to help you. Just say “oops” and re-calculate. Your navigator does it all the time. You can, too. Your emotions will give you turn by turn guidance.
If you are now thinking in a way that causes you pain, you’re creating a future you probably don’t really want. Your next now is built on this one.
On the other hand, being more easy-going or looking for the bright side will help you create a future you prefer. Use negative emotion to remind yourself that you have the option to turn in a different direction that will contribute to your well-being.
Your thought patterns create momentum. Is the momentum in the direction you want to go?
4. Think: What if nothing is wrong. Not Now. Not Ever.
Nice thought if you can think it, right?
That’s what the Dali Lama thinks. Someone asked him about his secret to enlightenment, and being so happy, and he said something to the effect that “Everything is always alright with me.”
I often say to myself, “What if this is crazy turn of events is actually here to help me?” Or “This is probably helping me, I just can’t see it yet.”
In other words, what if this problem is here simply to help us clarify?
5. Think of the crash as a reminder that a personal software upgrade is in order.
A crash is helping you crash and burn the old programs so you can create, invite, or find new programs that work better
There. I said it. And so eloquently, too, huh?
About Terri Crosby — I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with Eric, my partner of 15 years, two cats and a dog, and as many flowers and vegetables as I can plant. I love really good food, good friends, good relationships!
If something isn’t working, perhaps there is another way to see it.(No, that’s not a new idea.)But there is one aspect of this idea that makes all the difference.
Never underestimate the power of a baby step in the direction of where you want to be.
To tackle a big subject, start by taking a small step toward what you want.
You can change things!
You can change WHAT you’re looking at. Move your binoculars up and over a little — and voila! you’ll see a different scene. Change the information you collect.
Instead of listening to the “who-died-or-almost-died-and-why” news or “who’s-right-and-who’s-wrong” details of the presidential election, watch “Winged Planet” about the amazing birds in this world. Instead of dwelling on the disasters or the victims or the troubles of the world, change the channel or get up from the couch. Go do something else.
Pay more attention to things that are working. Notice and spread the word about successful events. Miracles. Random acts of generosity. People that are happy. Creative inventions that change the world.
You can change HOW you’re seeing what you see. Change the lens through which you interpret what you see.
If you don’t like what you see (lens of judgment), install a different lens — maybe the lens called “what if there is more to the story than I can see…” Or the lens called “This issue is really none of my business, and I think I’ll let them work it out.”
People may tell you that you are seeing the world through rose colored glasses. Just smile, and say “thank you for noticing.”
You can change WHEN you look. Notice the good stuff and make a big deal about it. Catch your child being good. Ignore the spilled whatever, and the crabby, yelly, and uncooperative landscape between you and your little ones. Have a party moment when things are going the way you want them to go. Do a little jig. Put your right foot in, put your right foot out…and shake it all about.
Thank your partner when s/he is doing something great. Stop the world to celebrate the moments that make you happy.
You can change WHERE you look from. Your perspective, your general point of view. Do you see the glass half empty or the glass half full? Do you have faith in the abilities of others or do you end up doing all the work because only you can do it best?
Notice your general point of view about yourself. Is your point of view that “things usually work out well for me?” Or not? Do you find your way to good solutions? Do you usually have trusting relationships with others?
If you are sick, have been sick for a long time — and this is a serious subject for you and yours — see what you can do to lighten things up. For the next hour or so, don’t be so fascinated with being sick. Or tired. Or fascinated about the fact that you hate your job. So what. Be fascinated about something else for a while, just for the heck of it.
A great sentence to begin to shift things? “What if….” What if I enjoyed the people at work? What if I got well — THEN who would I be or how would I spend my time? What if I loved going to work in the morning? What if…
You can change WHY you look. If you find articles that rail against others, and post them on Facebook so others can join your “fight” against this person you’ve never met and don’t really know, then you might notice that you’re promoting others in a negative way. Let’s say you might be making others “smaller, lesser, stupid, inept, silly or not as smart as you.”
Why? So you can feel smarter, superior, better than? If they are less, you’re more. I don’t know. Check it out.
For a new game that’s usually a little more fun, why not find people you support, and talk about them. When you look for ways to make yourself or others right, you see more of what’s working, you GET more of what’s working, because you celebrate what’s working.
The bonus? You feel better about life. Your life gets better. And what could possibly be better than that?!!!?
You’re broken down and tired Of living life on a merry go round And you can’t find the fighter But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out And move mountains We gonna walk it out And move mountains
And I’ll rise up I’ll rise like the day I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again And I’ll rise up High like the waves I’ll rise up In spite of the ache I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you For you For you For you
When the silence isn’t quiet And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe And I know you feel like dying But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet And move mountains Bring it to its feet And move mountains
And I’ll rise up I’ll rise like the day I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you For you For you For you
All we need, all we need is hope And for that we have each other And for that we have each other And we will rise We will rise We’ll rise, oh, oh We’ll rise
I’ll rise up Rise like the day I’ll rise up In spite of the ache I will rise a thousand times again And we’ll rise up High like the waves We’ll rise up In spite of the ache We’ll rise up And we’ll do it a thousand times again
During this strange time in history, I noticed y’all were tackling all sorts of interesting projects. I decided I needed one, too—something positive to remember the pandemic of 2020 by.
I decided to pay attention to something I had abandoned…
Nope, I’m not cleaning my garage. I am not organizing one single thing. I’m not planting a garden or cleaning up my yard.
Instead, I decided to take care of myself better. This, folks, has made all the difference for me.
With relatively little time and effort on my part, I feel so much better than I did a month ago.
On March 30, I got on the exercise bike and the yoga mat for the first time in a long time, and did 30 minutes each. I liked it so much that I decided to do it every day. But I fell short of that, and changed my commitment to every other day, which felt more manageable, reasonable, and doable.
I also get off the bike after every song, take a couple of sips of water, shake out my legs and arms for a few seconds, and get back on. This makes the bike project a reasonable proposition, too.
Daily walks of any length—by myself, or with my little guy, Jackson—are a fresh air bonus.
My recumbent exercise bike has pulleys to work my upper body while I pedal, which gets my heart rate up fast, and also helps my whole-body strength. It feels good to get up from writing, or doing a consulting session with a client, to do something physically challenging while listening to good music.
After only a month, I feel a sheet of muscles on the front of me I haven’t felt for a very, very long time. Goodness gracious. Who knew they were there. I’ll be posting rippling ab photos soon, I’m sure.
I have no idea what the scales have to say about my bike/yoga project—I don’t care. Paying attention to scales tends to send me sideways, and therefore, I’m ignoring them completely.
But—I LOVE the way I feel! Hang in there, everyone.