Rules #40a: "Beginning All Over Again": Managing Change & Transition
"It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways but it's that place in between that we fear. It's like being between trapezes. There's nothing to hold on to." - Marilyn Ferguson
If You Think that Change is Easy…
Change is like a shark in the ocean. Change
never stops, never sleeps: it must always keep moving. The good news
is if you hate the way things are, they will change. The bad news is
if you love the way things are, they are certain to change as
Changes "Beyond Our Control" That Are "Imposed on Us" from "Above"
When it comes to change, there are three
kinds of people: those who make things
happen, those who let things happen, and those who are always wondering
"what the hell happened?". No matter
which you are, change becomes a "real problem" when it has been
"imposed" upon you by forces "beyond your control".
Change is the natural state of the universe.
Death is only another change: moving us from a state of physical being
into a state of non-physical being. While we are yet in life, we are
constantly in a state of change. We grow, then we age. Our cells die
off and replace themselves. We live, we learn. We work ourselves from
darkness to light, from negative to positive, from karma to
dharma. We do
it all over again.
The "Three Paths" Resulting from "Imposed Change"
When we are in the process of transitioning due to imposed changes, there are always three paths open to us. The one we end up walking is totally up to us. For we are the creative force in our own universe, and we can manifest whatever it is that we "invest" our energy in. The three paths are:
1> The Path of Disempowerment: Disempowerment is the "default path": what will happen to us if we do nothing to meet the challenges of the "imposed change". Part of why change is so fearful is people are terrified that they will wind up on the path of disempowerment.Here are the steps we go through when "Transitioning" from an "Old" to a "New" Cycle of Life: To better illustrate this, I will use the story of a client who was "let go" from a job they held for many years. And it does have a happy ending: it turned out that this "imposed change" was the "best decision they never made".Unfortunately, what people put their attention on is what they will manifest into their reality. That is why so many people who are "too long unemployed" have such great difficulty in "getting another job". Their eyes get fixed on disempowerment… which is an illusion. In the case of job changes, if they were employed once, they can be again. Often when they have to, they will do just that!2> The Path of Recovery: Recovery requires action on our part to "get back what it was that we have lost". If that is our only goal, we will get it back in some form. Maybe some things will be better and others worse, but this path will essentially be the same as before.Yet the problem with choosing this path is that change is not denied, only delayed. The same problems causing the original change to be "imposed from above" will only cause another change to be imposed in the future.3> The Path of Reinvention: Reinvention also requires action but demands that we take a good hard look at our lives and "decide what we want to be when we grow up". By imposing change on us, the universe is giving us the chance to "become more ourselves".It asks us to see new possibilities for our life having the capacity to bring us to greater levels of joy, love, and awareness. It prods us to "be all we can be" if only we reach out to universal abundance and choose to do so.
#1: END OF OLD CYCLE #1: SHOCK ("What is happening to me?")
When a change is imposed on us - even if it is ultimately for the better - we are still left in a state of shock. In this case, the client did not see the change coming. They were on the job for many years: great reviews, happy customers, good relations with management and employees, and a stable organization. When a management "shake up" resulted in the cancellation of their next two projects, it was decided to let the client go. The client was the "walking wounded" unable to comprehend what had happened to them or why. For a few days, the client did not eat or sleep.
#2: END OF OLD CYCLE #2: DENIAL ("It is NOT happening to me!")
Since the change is imposed on us - seemingly not under our control - it is a natural reaction for us not to believe it. Worse, we may resort to "magical thinking" that somehow the change can be reversed. In this case, the client could not believe that it was happening. It was made worse by the fact that no one around them could believe it either. All sorts of rescue scenarios were advanced and promoted... until the client was faced with stark reality in the form of official termination papers.
#3: END OF OLD CYCLE #3: ANGER ("It is NOT my fault! Why me?")
Once the change is "made real" to us, we soon come to the realization that there is no use in complaining, we must accept the reality of our situation and move on. Either we will blame ourselves or others for what has happened to us and we are likely to get angry. The best thing to do when we feel anger rising within us… is to do what this client did and not to give into it. Lashing out in anger may backfire and alienate the very people in a position to help us solve our problem. In fact, the calm and professional manner in which the client acted was an essential part of enlisting those in the company to find them another suitable employment opportunity.
#4: END OF OLD CYCLE #4: FEAR ("It has happened to me, I'm scared…")
Worse than being overwhelmed by anger is to be consumed by fear. When one does not have a clear vision of the future, it is only natural to feel fear. Here is where the client's self knowledge and spiritual believes paid off. In this case, the client allowed their emotions to flow through them into the safe outlet of supportive friends and family. They acknowledged their fears in order to move past them.
#5: CHANGING #1: DEPRESSION ("What the hell is going to happen now?")
Fears that are not "processed" will inevitably turn inward, creating a depressed and hopeless mental and emotional state. Unfortunately, fear and depression often "rob" and individual of the desire and ability to take the action needed to move them onto the paths of recovery or empowerment. In this case, the client "skipped" this step because they had worked to deal with their emotions. Notice that it is not always necessary to go through each transition step in order. As long as we are moving forward in transitioning, we can go as "fast" or "slow" in the process as we need to.
#6: CHANGING #2: CONFUSION ("What should I do? What should I do!")
Notice that in the process of transition, confusion sets in when the individual finally realizes that change has occurred and that they have no choice but to deal with it. This is the point of creation: where our hopes and intentions for the changed the future must be firmly and passionately sent out to the universe. The thoughts we send out to the universe to find suitable possible matches to our desires are what powers their manifestation. Here our client envisioned the new job of their dreams.
#7: CHANGING #3: UNCERTAINTY ("Will anything really happen for me?")
The tricky part of making a transition is to trust that the change was for the best and that something much better can result from the transition. Accepting the uncertainty means letting your vision of the future go out into the universe, watching it disappear over the horizon, and believing that it will come back to you in the form of new possibilities for your life. In this case, the "uncertainty" of the job search was something this client had real difficulty with doing (but they had no choice!!).
#8: CHANGING #4: RESIGNATION ("I have to start to change…")
The hardest part of transitions is resigning ourselves that we must let go of the "old trapeze bar" and spend some time hurtling through free space toward - hopefully - a "new trapeze bar" that is coming our way. Resigning ourselves to the unknown is better viewed as opening ourselves to something new and better that is for our highest good. Here resignation was no easier for out client but they "toughed it out" be holding fast to their vision of a new and empowering future for themselves.
#9: TO NEW CYCLE #1: ACCEPTANCE ("OK, I will do something now!")
The moment that action is taken toward creating a new future, true acceptance of the new cycle has begun. As Goethe said: "The moment one definitely commits oneself, all sorts of things occur to help one... A whole stream of events issues from the decisions, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come... Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now." Here our client was amazed by the unexpected numbers of people that came to their aid.
#10: TO NEW CYCLE #2: PLANNING ("I am making a plan to for change.")
It's true: "fail to plan then plan to fail." Others may help us but it is up to us to set and steer our own course through the maze of transitions. When we plan, we are actually clarifying the vision we are sending out to the universe. The clearer we are, the more obvious what we need to do will become. Plans beget actions which beget opportunities which beget more plans and actions. Here the client quickly found that "getting a job" and "doing it right" was a full time job in and of itself.
#11: TO NEW CYCLE #3: ACTION ("I act on my plan and seek alternatives.")
All other things being equal, the clearer and more focused the vision of what is desired, the sooner that possibilities matching the vision will manifest into the person's outer reality. Most often one than one opportunity will appear. Part of the process of refining the manifestation is to explore the alternatives, comparing one to another to see which is best or if another direction should be considered. Here our client resisted the temptation to "grab the first one" to get "change over with".
#12: NEW CYCLE #4: DECISION ("I choose the best of the alternatives.")
Once alternatives have presented themselves, the process of selecting among them is usually straightforward. Each one is examined in turn as to their strong points and weak points. The natural result of this examination is thinking through each one in a way that "makes it real". Envisioning oneself taking advantage of each opportunity will lead the person to selecting the alternative which most closely matches their "perfected" vision of the future. In this case, it was quite easy for the client to select the "right job" which turned out to be "the best decision they never made".
It is a loving and compassionate universe that we live in… for it gives us infinite chances to learn the ways of love and compassion as we work through our karma. Know that all will be well with a change and it will be!
Credits: adapted from William Bridges' book "Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change", Marilyn Ferguson's article on "Managing Change and Transition" and channeled information.
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Past & Now Forward Holistic Counseling,