Change is inevitable. And yet many of us resist it with incredible force. Many of us have become afraid of change. Why is this? When did this happen? Did change always frighten us? I seem to recall anticipating change with great excitement as a child. I recall looking forward to growing up and seeing new things, meeting new people and going new places. Most kids dive into change with abandon. So why don’t we? What changed?
Change is growth. Growth is life. We cannot hide from it. To usher in the new, we must part with the old. I suspect that for many of us our fear of change begins when we focus on what is being taken from us instead of what is being granted. The balance is always there. But when we misjudge and overvalue our sense of security, investing it in material ‘holdings’, we begin cutting ourselves off from life. This insulation and isolation, misunderstood by many to be ‘security’, actually limits our inner growth, effectively distancing us from truth and deepening our fear of change. And the tighter we hold on to this ‘sense’ of security (it is only an idea, after all), the tougher it is when life comes to take away what was never meant to stay. In this light, cultivating at least an openness to change (if not excitement) is a valuable tool for our well-being.
For those of us who are not quite so afraid of change, we nonetheless find ourselves often frozen in the face of choice. We know change is necessary but we can’t figure out how to implement it. “I need a change,” we say, and yet nothing changes. We just keep saying it. We seem to be creatures of habit, and change can be challenging, whether good or bad. But we can learn to embrace change. We can even make it a habit. We can begin by simply coaching ourselves, saying at the outset of a day, “Today I welcome change into my life.” If we say this to ourselves a few times a day (or even just once) for a few weeks, our lives can open up in wonderful ways, showing us a deeper truth and beauty than we may ever have imagined. All that is needed is the simple willingness to continue growing.
This willingness becomes an incredible ally in the face of life’s inescapable and occasionally jarring losses. One positive thing I discovered in the midst of great chaos and change in my life was that I became more anchored in the changeless. Great turmoil can actually lead us to a part of ourselves that is constant and calm. Out on the road, dealing with a bruised ego and a broken heart, my peace paradoxically deepened (amidst great waves of anguish). As life swirled around me, with nothing tangible to hold on to, I sensed a greater presence growing in my own heart. I discovered that the more change we can endure, the more stable we can become, rooted in that which is beyond change. This we can call God, Spirit, Balance, Awareness, or Life itself – the words don’t matter. But we all have equal access to this inner peace. I feel greatly blessed to be so deeply anchored in this abiding awareness, seeing clearly that it is more secure than anything which we could ever dream, build or hold. This ineffable essence is the foundation of all life, and it is unassailable.
The more we are able to hold to the changeless, keeping our minds, hearts and souls rooted in this quiet presence, the safer we are from feeling victimized by the inevitable changes of our lives. Thus, our ability to discern what is constant in the midst of change is vital. All experience is fleeting – even the most profound and transcendent. See this clearly and let it all go. Eventually, with patience and persistence, practicing presence in the face of change, nothing that comes or goes will hold any sway over us. We come to understand that it is only the love within and between all people, things and dreams that is of lasting value. It is this eternal love that we really cherish, and all the temporary vessels and expressions of this love are meant to move on, to continue growing and changing. The more we learn to let go and trust life, the more we can grow in this changeless love, endlessly expressing itself through constant creation, ever-changing, ever-new. We come to see this diversity and mystery as a great blessing. We come to see it as freedom, and absolute security.
This, of course, is the ideal, and perhaps a lofty ambition for some. But I trust that if we continue risking what we see as our security, if we open our hearts to greater change, we will be amazed to grow in ways that actually bring us to a much greater safety, even when it seems to all appearances to be just the opposite. This is the peace that passes all understanding, deepening our being. At times, it may seem kind of crazy, but this is the nature of living and learning. Real growth takes a bit of faith. Faith is not rational and it never will be. So take a chance on change. Lean out into life and try something new, or simply make yourself available to it. Make change a new habit. Experiment. Invite growth into your life. It may feel a bit scary at first, but keep pushing through – it is always worth the effort. I promise that, in the end, you will be glad you did.