As of late, I've been thinking and working on how to change my habits, my business, my art practice, and a myriad amount of other relationships—with the internet, with friends and family, with social justice, and with myself.
Many, many others I know are also navigating profound changes. Life-altering, mindset-altering change. Whether you are dealing with an external shake-up or many internal shifts that need refining and attention- we always need support as we ride the choppy waves.
We all know that life is changing all around us, yet it is one of the things we fear the most. Landing on some real ways to deal with and navigate change in a quickly changing world is of utmost importance. I dwell on this subject a lot. Below are a few, non-exhaustive, practical tips that can help you navigate change.
Change is rarely comfortable.
This one is a no-brainer, but we forget in the moment. Change— even beautiful, wonderful change— just plain feels uncomfortable. Painful, usually. If the change you are in is very, very sharp and hurts, that makes sense. Breathe. Cry. Feel the feelings and sensations that come in. Remind yourself that the uncomfortableness is part of it. You can locate the pain in your body, your heart. You can ask it what it needs. You can give it what it needs by giving it attention.
Identify the places that scare you as a site of freedom.
Your ego is going to want to keep things the same. Egos REALLY hate an upheaval or an upgrade! And I'm defining these things as something that are helpful and healthy—not "better" or "more". Our ego is what keeps us safe. When we make a big decision, it freaks out. It tries to pull us back into the known. The ego thinks the known is always better than the unknown. Even if the "known" is well, kind of crappy. This is where the inner saboteur comes in. This is where you find yourself, almost like a zombie, reaching for the cig/ the phone/ the ex/ the whatever. This is when we can name what scares us the most about this change. In this fear, usually, we find what our deepest desires are. Our deepest desires are usually the opposite or are tied to, what scares us the most. Sometimes receiving our desires are what scares us the most. Spend some time this week, this month, reflecting on what scares you. Really identify how you may be set free in some way through working with these scary, shadowy parts.
Maybe you need to fill the void.
Magic really, really loves a void. Humans really, really do. That's why we fill up our time with busy. That's why it can be sooooo hard to quit our behaviors. If you are trying to quit something — a relationship, a habit, fill your time up with something better. Something productive, like scrubbing the tub. Listening to a podcast. Writing a loved one a letter. Transform your time by replacing the old with the different. Or, you can do what I did when I quit dairy last year. I bought every dairy replacement ice cream or nut cheese I wanted and shoved my face with them when I was having a craving. Maybe, especially in the beginning, you still need to fill a void. The following are some activities that will always make you feel good: reading, meditating, laying on the floor listening to ocean waves with your legs up the wall, going on a walk, sitting outside, volunteering, looking at art in the real world, staring at baby animals on the internet, cooking food ahead of time and freezing it...
Maybe you need to be in the void.
Conversely, you might just need to do nothing. You might need to stare into space. Not introduce anything new. Be ok with the void. For, it is in the void, that true transformation takes place. Seeds grow in the dark. We grow most when we are sleeping. If you are feeling the deep need to rest, to meditate, to nap, to do almost nothing other than the bare minimum of your life, then, well, give yourself permission at this time to do that.
Focus on what you want instead of what you don't.
Again, this is a no-brainer. But do we really DO this, in real life? We say we want healthy relationships, but we might meet up with a cruel ex. Be loving as you assess how you spend your mental and emotional energy. Focus on what you want, what feels good, during times of change. An accountability buddy might help here.
Keep your future self in mind.
When making decisions, ask yourself: would my future self be grateful? Making big changes, saying no, beginning to work on that creative project, etc., might feel excruciating in the moment. Envision your future self when making decisions. You love her, right? And she loves you! Use the infinity loop of this future love and appreciation to step forward into needed risks and upcoming shifts.
Be gentle with yourself.
Through all this change, be gentle. Give yourself a break. Cut yourself some slack. Be loving, not judging. Pause. Remember that this is a process. Treat yourself with care.
This too shall pass.
My mother used to tell me this all the time when I used to call her crying, and it is true. Nothing lasts forever- even really, really terrible circumstances. You might just need to weather the storm as best you can, knowing that this change will move on to another change, eventually.