Going Through Changes

I’m Going Through Changes. Take the time to listen to Charles Bradley sing this great version, while I write about change. Does anyone care to guess who wrote this song? Answer at the end.

Change is a given in our lives. The more changes I go through, the more I realise it’s wise to accept and embrace it. In the past, I attempted to convince myself that I was always changing. I know that’s not true now.

I have selectively changed things and moved on in new directions. Yet many things have stayed constant. An anchor of certainty, as I transformed other areas of my life or pursuits. Risk has been something I have embraced, and even though it hasn’t always worked out, that characteristic has not been dampened. Uncertainty and ambiguity have been constant and welcome companions. But true personal change has not been easy.

Control What You Can

What about when uncontrolled change happens? The uncontrollable parts of life. There is a tendency for the uncontrollable to be less positive, too. My acceptance of these changes has become more rounded as life has moved on. When I was young, negative events happened to me, and, as to be expected, they were tough to deal with. They had a profound impact on my character and the way I looked at the world. It took a long time to put them in the correct context in my psyche.

What about the things that perhaps you can control? Please don’t convince yourself that your life is out of your control. The sirens of despair can pull you onto the rocks, leaving you shipwrecked and living a grey and joyless life. Please don’t fall for it. Please. We can all make changes, regardless of our circumstances.

I can hear someone expressing I have a privileged life, and perhaps I do. But my argument isn’t about comparing my life to yours or anyone else’s. Possibly the most powerful text I have read is Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Read the book.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” 

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning. 1946.

The First Step Is Tough

Far too many years elapsed before I addressed my psychological struggles. That’s understandable. Going through changes, I would guess, is impossible until acceptance of change being needed is faced head-on. But it’s not easy. Not many of us take the step of, for example, meeting a psychotherapist. The fortunate don’t need to. But countless more people engage in avoidance or fallacious inner arguments about why they don’t need to. Many more people slowly drown in an unconsciously hum-drum stable existence that reinforces the inner barrier to engaging with the real self.

Why would one not want to explore more on our inner self? Because it’s complex. It can be extremely painful. And it may expose something we don’t like about ourselves. We, humans, like to convince ourselves we are okay or correct, and the rest of the world needs to change. Going through changes – our changes – are scary. That’s why many people prefer to stay the same.

Reconciliation and Self-Compassion

Reconciliation with the self is a great healer and a platform for perceiving ourselves and others differently. Getting to that stage was hard for me. Painful at times. I had to look at myself in the metaphorical mirror and admit my failings. Self-confess to my mistakes. That took time. Tough but ultimately rewarding and a platform for personal growth.

The biggest trap? I could not see the positives in me. All I could see were the negative aspects of my being. Self-loathing was the predominant, almost unconscious, behaviour I had to recognise and then deal with. No amount of apologising to people in my life and no amount of post-rationalisation helped me. Until I realised that going through changes meant listening to everyone around me, and not just focusing on the negative people.

A therapist I work with introduced self-compassion into my mental frameworks. It was tough for me. In a joint exercise with her, I had to write positive words and phrases about myself. It was one of the toughest things I have done, and after the session, I put the notebook away for a long time.

Hearing positive things about me was hard. Accepting a compliment has always been difficult, often provoking a physical response in me. Reconciling with myself has allowed me to listen to all around me. It’s stopped me from ruminating on perceived mistakes and offences caused to people around me.

But eventually, I went to the notebook again, introducing some of the words into my meditation practices.

What’s With All The Me, Me, Me?

Well? I hope that you are open to going through changes of your own. I tell my story and hope it helps your challenge in some way. Going through changes can be tough, and it can take time. It did for me. But the prize is beyond words. Being able to see the world in IMAX colour is a treasure. Engaging with people and the world around me differently and positively. Dropping many of the old negative scripts and behaviours. The self-loathing inner talk which ran around the clock in my head has quieted. If I can address my inner self, you can too.

Going Through Changes. Try It

Going through changes. Take the first step. Talk to a friend or family member. If that’s too hard, talk to yourself in the mirror. Uttering the words that you want to change brings it to life. The steps can be tiny. It can take months or even longer, but no matter. As long as the intent is there, all is well.

You will surprise yourself. See yourself in new and different ways. Be kinder to yourself. Show some self-compassion. Unburden yourself from some of the negative thoughts our environment has laden us with. Most of all, understand that you can control key aspects of your life and make positive steps towards new beginnings.

I’m Going Through Changes was written by Black Sabbath, the Ozzy Osbourne version of the band.

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