Hello Change, My Old Friend

by Gurpreet Sihat

I hate change. 

Each change that arises forms a thick rope in my stomach that knots and turns and spins, and when it runs out of room it moves upwards to restrict my breathing. It sets off my anxiety. Plays with my senses. Rips away all confidence and replaces it with fear. 

Still, it comes.

That beloved laptop with the disc drive will die. That friend will leave the country. That family member will turn her back. But these are not changes in our lives. We have no control over them. These are changes in the lives of others. Changes that the manufacturer, the friend and the family member have chosen. Accepted. Invited.

But the changes in our own lives – the ones that require us to make our own decisions instead of relying on other people to make them – they need a push. Change does not corporealize and come knocking on the door to ask how to proceed. We must walk out to meet it. 

Because change is inevitable. Change is the only constant.

So how we deal with this change?

Acknowledge your feelings.

Feelings don’t disappear just because you want them to. In fact, if you bury them, they fester and surface with a vengeance. So, instead of avoiding them, acknowledge whatever it is you’re feeling. Identify your emotions and accept them. Realise that, actually, they’re not so bad. All of that anxiety and fear is natural. Try talking your emotions through with someone – almost everyone has been there at one point or another – or maybe start journaling. 

Prepare yourself for what’s to come.

This isn’t always possible, but it’s handy to prepare for a change when you can. My friends have fallen into the habit of warning me when they’re leaving the country months in advance. One even told me when her visa was expiring a year in advance. It gave us both the time needed to accept the change, plan visits to each other, and prepare for the online only relationship we were getting ourselves into. 

Control what you can.

Some people think this is the same as preparing yourself for what’s to come, but it’s actually completely different. It’s about being kind to yourself. To your mind. The things you do in the physical world help your mind feel less cluttered and loosens the hold all those negatives emotions have on you. Even something as small as creating a list or having a spring clean helps remind you that while some things are out of control, there are others very much within your control. It also helps you to stop focusing on the past and prepare for the immediate future instead.

Accept the change.

I always find this step easier said than done, so I make a point of saying it. Literally. I stand up and I say the words aloud. “I accept this person has a beautiful life and want for nothing.” “I accept that this job and I are no longer compatible.” “I accept the beautiful things that will come my way now this door has closed.” And then I walk towards that change. I accept it with open arms and an invitation in my heart. However fearful I am of it.  

Change is the only constant thing in our lives. It’s the first thing in the world that we need to learn to live with. So, change, however fearful I am of you, however tight that rope suddenly becomes, I welcome you. With open arms and an open heart. And I’m pretty sure, as reluctant as they may be, everyone reading this post does too.

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