When you’re deep in the thrusts of change or you’re about to embark on a new journey, the challenge is always finding stability in instability or certainty in uncertainty. The very nature of change brings about more stress and anxiety than any other human experience.
Most of us try to avoid change for the pure purpose of avoiding the, sometimes excruciating, discomfort it brings. But some change is unavoidable, sometimes coming suddenly at us like a storm in the night or creeping up slowly like a rising tide.
However it comes upon us, either way, we must find a way through it with no guarantee how things will turn out when we get to the other side.
But one thing we can choose and be certain about is how we approach change and the intention we set going into it or while amidst it. You have three choices:
If you go for choice number three, there is one magic ingredient that you will need for all the stages in this arena:
-and there is no gluten free, vegan or dairy free substitute. Just courage, 100% pure and straight up!
So how does courage displace or do away with the discomfort and sometimes sickening feeling of uncertainty and instability that comes along with change? How does it ease the grief after losing a loved one or a marriage? How does courage allow you see a brighter future when all you see in front of you is the mess you’re in? How does it help you feel in control of your life again?
It doesn’t, but hear me out.
Just over 4 years ago I embarked on a period of change in my life that I didn’t believe I could survive. The events during this time were so big, so emotionally consuming and heartbreaking and demanded every fibre of my resilient soul to respond to and keep going. Just to paint a picture of what transpired during this time, my dog was killed in a car accident, I moved back home after living across the world for 8 years, I separated from my husband, I became a single mother, I moved 4 times and my father passed away.
I lived every day in uncertainty and instability became a familiar friend.
But looking back now, 4 years later, it was being brave and courageous that got me through each step and created who I am today. In fact, after not only surviving but thriving through my recent change and adversity, being courageous is no longer an option. Being uncomfortable is no longer an option. Being vulnerable is no longer an option. These are all now necessary for moving forward, for my personal growth and for healing from the past.
So getting back to courage as that magical ingredient in change, when do you need to dig deep and find your brave to move you through the stages of change? When do you need courage as that platform from where you stand when the ground where you once stood is no longer there? When do you need courage as that oxygen mask that drops down to you in your seat to get you through to the next moment? And when do you need courage as that fuel to push you towards taking the next step?
I’ve broken it down into some easy steps, steps to help you identify when you need to pull your courage super hero boots on, tap into your brave and move through the stages of change.
Step 1 – Accept What Is
The first step in change and often the most important is to have the courage to accept and face to truth of your situation and your reality. Perhaps you have to accept that your marriage is over. Maybe you have to face the truth that you’ve lost your job and no amount of getting upset will get it back. Perhaps you have to accept the changes happening within your organization, even if you don’t agree with them or struggle knowing how to deal with them. Maybe you have to listen to your inside voice saying you’re not happy doing what you’re doing and that it’s not aligned with who you are. Whatever the truth may be, the first and most important step is to summon up the courage to face the truth, look it in the eyes and accept it however much it hurts and brings you discomfort or pain. For this will be the foundation from where you stand and take your next step.
Step 2 – Reach Out
Once you accept what is, there may be a flood of discomfort and difficult emotions. It’s important that during this time you have the courage to reach out and find someone you can talk to, get help from, act as a sounding board and offer you empathy and compassion. This can either be a friend, a family member, a coach, a counsellor, a mentor, a support group or anyone that will support you along the ride It’s here as well to seek out any resources, such as books, websites, or TED Talks that may support you. It takes courage to reach out and ask for support but we’re wired for connection and designed to thrive when we receive it.
Step 3 – Let Go
When you’re ready and you’ve done steps 1 & 2, it’s time to let go of the old, what was, what you’ve just come away from. It’s going to feel like a loss, and it may hit you quite differently depending on what you’ve just come away from. But when you have the courage to let go, you then give yourself permission to move on and create something new. By letting go you make space for a new future and new possibilities that you may or may not be able to see yet. The important thing is that the space is there and you are ready for what’s next.
Step 4 – Step Out Into The Unknown
Once you let go of the old you enter unchartered territory, a place often called the Neutral Zone. These are the roughest waters and where most people get hung up. Some turn around and go back to familiar land but the strong, resilient and determined push on and eventually find their way to the other side. It takes tremendous courage to move through these waters, to fall down and keep getting back up, to risk looking a fool and be unknowing, to feel like you have no control and to keep going even though you can’t see the land on the other side. This is where another essential ingredient comes into play, which is self-belief, and without it you most likely won’t make the journey.
Step 5 – Reach Out And Hold Onto The New
Once you’ve made it through the neutral zone there is this amazing thing that starts happening, opportunities start popping into your life in the most unsuspecting ways. They may be small or they may be big, but they start coming in. It’s here where you need to be courageous to respond to these opportunities, grab hold of them and go for the ride! It might feel like you’re hanging on to a wild roller coaster at first, but hang in there, these opportunities came your way because you created a space for them, you were down in the trenches building your resilience, your strength and gaining wisdom from your experience. So go for it and enjoy it, you’ve earned it.
Step 6 – Move Into The New
The last step in change is to really step into your new reality and the new opportunities that have come your way. It might feel strange at first and there may be some resistance from your old self, the inside voice, those pesky self-limiting beliefs and maybe even people around you. But push past them and place your feet firmly on the ground. This is your new future, this new thing you’ve created whatever it is. You’ve done the hard work so be grateful for how far you’ve come and give yourself a pat on the pack for what you’e accomplished.