Accepting Change and Moving On

Happiness is really a choice. Change? Not so much.

Change hits me really hard. For some reason I’m just really uncomfortable with it. Many times…rather, most of the time, change is really for the better. I’ve had quite a few things that brought along a lot of change…graduating college, moving out, ending relationships, leaving projects, ending tenures, starting/failing/re-starting grad school. The list can go on and on.

I think what bothers me most about change is that sometimes I feel like I could have done something better. Sometimes I wish I would’ve spent my time differently. Sometimes I wish I had focused a little more. Maybe if I had done something a little differently, the entire experience would have been better, worse, or otherwise different. It’s a classic case of analysis paralysis. Let me be the first person to tell you, if no one else has already, that change is hard and that I understand. Just know that everything happens for a reason. I’ve personally gone through a lot of change this month and it’s been one rollercoaster after another, but I can honestly say that things will work themselves out.

The reason why I take the concept of change so hard is that I personally see change as an end to something. Changing jobs or roles in life, moving on from dead weight, and growing all involve some sort of transformation. If I could just learn to flip a switch and see it as a beginning I think it’d be a lot easier on me. Change is a new beginning. You can wipe your slate (relatively) clean and transform. It’s a necessary step to reincarnation…so embrace it.

Some things I’ve done to accept change and move on:

  • Talk it out. Sometimes it helps to have a cathartic session with another person who is willing to listen.
  • Reflect on your experience and remember the good things. What made your experience enriching? What did you get out of it?
  • Get excited about what’s next. Now that you’re in a state of change, you have been handed a wild card from life. You are completely in control of your next move. Call the shots and take charge.
  • Give it time. Most people will go through the five steps of grieving (denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). It’s totally normal and no matter is too small that it needs to go ignored.
  • Do something to honor your feelings. Allow yourself to feel the way you do. This isn’t the time to deny or deprive. Do something nice for yourself…you deserve it.
  • When you’re ready to make a decision, don’t look back. Keep looking forward and move towards the future.

What else do you recommend?

On The Outside Looking In

There were many times in my life when I thought that my life was hard.

I had days that dragged on forever…the BAD kind of forever. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. My thoughts were dark, dreary, depressed, and violent. I was obsessed about controlling things that were out of my control and it was driving me crazy. Sights, sounds, smells, phrases, colors would trigger flashbacks. My mind raced as I rehashing old wounds in a matter of seconds, breaking them open, and pouring salt into them. This cycle repeated itself over and over again…I made the same mistakes repeatedly and in some sort of naive understanding of the world I came to a fallacious conclusion that life had handed me a pretty crappy deck of cards.

They called it many things (depression, post-traumatic stress disorder) and me handed bottles of pills. I took them, felt numb, out-of-body, unhappy, and empty. Deep down I knew that nothing could fix my unhealthy relationship with reality…except for me. I was manifesting my own unhappiness by allowing the flashbacks to control my thoughts, and by not actively avoiding my triggers. My unhappiness was actually caused by no one else but me. It wasn’t my past experiences that were the problem. The problem was me: my reaction, my methodology of dealing with pain, and my internalization of stress.

There are things that will happen to all of you.  It will be sad, devastating, perhaps tragic or violent. You won’t understand it. You couldn’t have been protected from it. What’s most important is that you understand that you didn’t deserve it, and that out there in the world at large there are people who care about you. It took me a long time to come to terms with that. Friends, family, therapists, doctors, and professors told me this but I didn’t believe them. It wasn’t until I believed it that I received a new lease on life.

“The only way to get yourself out of the hole is to stop digging.” Sure, it’s hard to swallow your pride and accept responsibility…but sooner or later you will have to face your demons. It might be “easier” to deal with it tomorrow, but by the time you’ve forgotten about tomorrow your negative emotions, reactions, and triggers will have manifested and triggered other negative energy in your life, thus continuing the cycle of negativity. If you’ve read this far I’d admonish you from setting yourself up for failure in the future.

Being open to change and understanding the flaws in your own ways is one of the best ways to develop your sense of self. You can’t create your future successes by replicating past failures. It’s a difficult lesson to learn but when you start to understand your underlying motivations and reasons for doing what you do, you will have the ability to manifest the type of life you seek to live.

So, what are you waiting for? Go for it.

Returning to Nature – It's Just Perspective, People!

I am a true believer that most of our problems can be solved by returning to nature.

We face a lot of complex issues everyday. Maybe someone at work is under-performing. Perhaps you are feeling conflicted about a loved one. Maybe the external pressures you feel are just too much to bear. When things get rough, consider taking a step back and consider returning to your natural roots for a little bit. You don’t have to go completely Walden on us — a short walk, hike, bike ride, or ocean appreciation lunch break will do — but most of the time, giving yourself a change in environment can reframe your perspective.

Nature has a perfect order about her. Completely self-correcting and forgiving, the great outdoors can stand to teach you a lot about balance and harmony. Nature is not possessive or emotional; it reacts on both metaphysical and chemical logic that transcends human rationalization. There are no shades of gray really, just an endless array of possibilities that come in all shapes and sizes…if you know where to look.

On the other hand, Nature knows when to work on a problem and when to obliterate it as well. Admittedly we’re humans, and therefore emotional, so we can’t completely devoid our behavior and rationalization from said emotion. But again, if we could take a step back to reframe our perspective and understand a problem for what it actually is — not what we think it might be based on how we are feeling today, or how someone is telling us how to feel —  we might actually be able to solve some of our problems.

Give it a try!