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Riding the Waves of Change

You get your budget all worked out and then gas prices soar and your commuting expenses send you back to the drawing board. A new baby arrives, someone falls ill or dies, and everything changes. You have to change plans, change roles, learn new skills, and devise new routines - but how? There wasn't enough time to keep up with things as they were!

And what about hormones? Ouch! Puberty, PMS, menopause (male as well as female) - no matter where we are in the life cycle, we have to adapt to the changing landscapes of our own and our family's bodies. And when it comes to body chemistry, the changes are daily and even hourly. We never know how we'll wake up - it all depends on how we slept, what we ate the night before, what we see coming in the day ahead. And when it comes to "love", we never know when we'll "be in the mood" for it!

Achieving Inner Calm is One of the Six Qualities Discussed Below to "Surf the Waves of Change" ... and Praying is One Popular Way Many People Achieve Inner Calm

No wonder life and living sometimes feel overwhelming!

Not only are we dealing with all the changes that come with the territory of being human, but the pace of change is getting faster. Even a positive change, like a new computer or appliance, that helps us in the long run, makes demands on us. We have to take "extra time" for awhile to get things done as we learn the ropes on our new gadgets.

What is it that makes change so challenging, and how can we come to live with it with more ease?

In Part 1 of this article, we'll explore how we are impacted by change, and the qualities we need in order to "ride the waves of change" more easily. I'll also suggest some ways to increase ones ability to live with change.

In Part 2, we will explore what allows us to do more than just survive, but to progress and grow through change so that riding the waves becomes not just easier, but an experience that enriches our lives.

Handling the "Stress" of Change

Although change is in the very nature of life itself, change places demands on us - it is, in essence, a "stressor." We tend to think of stress as a "bad" thing - but it is actually simply part of life and living.

"Stress" is a word that has different meanings in different contexts - a paper on physics would define it differently than an article on health. In both cases, however, the word either applies to the forces that affect an object or human being, or to what goes on within the object or person in response to that force.

Every event in our lives can be viewed as a force that is affecting us, whether the impact is on the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual levels (or all of the above). Something happens and we respond. Whether or not we actually "feel stressed" has to do with how well we are able to respond.

Let's look at one of life's major stresses - moving to a new place - to explore how change affects us and what we need to respond well to it. When we arrive in a new place, we feel disoriented. We have to reorganize our home life from top to bottom, finding a new location for everything and developing new routines. If we've moved far enough from our old home, we need to create a whole new network of resources.

All of this places demands on our energy, creativity and time and we can't simultaneously juggle all of the obligations and activities we were previously involved in. After a while, things "settle down" and our energy is once again freed up for other things. We feel as if we can "get back to normal."

Stretching Both Your Mind and Your Body Helps You Achieve Flexibility ... One of the Six Qualities You Need to Effectively "Surf the Waves of Change."

Read About "Stretching Toward a Healthier Life" for an Excellent DVD Guide to Stretching Physically!

Such is the nature of change - it draws on our basic inner resources of energy, creativity and intelligence, and it makes demands on our time. We need a clear mind, rested body and calm spirit to meet these increasing demands that come with change. And we need one more vital ingredient - flexibility!

Please understand that when I write about the qualities we need to "surf the waves of change", I don't mean to imply any of us can become perfect at it. In fact, the ability to accept ourselves as imperfect (like every other human being who ever lived), is absolutely essential to developing the clarity, calmness, and especially the flexibility, that we all need in the midst of change.

None of us is a "superman" or "superwoman" who always breezes through everything in life without distress. To some degree or another, we all get "stressed out" by change and here are six warning signs of being "change challenged".

Six Warning Signs of Being Change-Challenged

  1. You feel as if life is "moving too fast."

  2. You find it hard to "switch gears" when things don't happen as planned.

  3. You feel you are on "overload" - the pressure feels too intense.

  4. You feel "panicked" about whether you can handle it all.

  5. You can't think straight - there's just too much information to process or emotion to experience.

  6. You'd give anything to take a break, but don't feel you can.

There are plenty of other "symptoms" you may experience when overwhelmed by change. They are all the same as the symptoms of being "stressed out." While they may be different for different people, everyone needs certain qualities to live with change.

Six Qualities You Need to "Surf the Waves of Change"
Or, What We Need to be "Response-Able"

  1. Energy
  2. Creativity
  3. Mental Clarity
  1. Inner Calm
  2. Flexibility
  3. Stability

Six Wise Ways to Develop the Qualities
You Need to Live with Change

Or, How to Increase your "Response-Ability"

  1. For energy: Stay rested to "keep your batteries charged." This way change doesn't find you "running on empty." We all need an energy reserve, just as much as we need an emergency fund in the bank.

  2. For creativity: Find ways to get the creative juices flowing on a daily basis - draw, paint, sing, dance, set your spirit free! Creativity requires freedom of expression, and that requires practice.

  3. For mental clarity: Learn a way to get "centered." Find a way that works for you - there are lots of resources to help you with this. For some, it may be a walk in nature, meditation, prayer. Practice something at least a few minutes daily so that you live a more centered life and can call upon your special "technique" when needed.

  4. For inner calm: Learn to relax. If you do this one thing, the rest will follow! There are lots of ways to learn this all important skill - find one that works for you and start it right away. (You might want to read my previous article on How to Relax (and Lower Your Cortisol Levels.)

  5. For stability: Devote time to building strong foundations in your life on all levels - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual - so that the waves of change don't throw you completely off-kilter. Developing the other five qualities mentioned here increase your "inner stability," but this also needs to be reflected in stable and supportive relationships, health, finances, and even daily routines.

  6. For flexibility: Stretch whenever you can, both your body and your mind. Try new activities and develop new skills. Expose yourself to different cultures and ways of thinking - you can incorporate what's useful to you and discard what doesn't suit you. You'll find you become more flexible and versatile. Read different kinds of books, watch different kinds of movies, and whatever you do stretch your body regularly.

    (For an excellent guide on how to stretch your body physically, check out the "Stretching Toward a Healthier Life" DVD by stretching expert Jacques Gauthier!)

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" as the saying goes. That's why I've focused on what you need to do to become more capable of living with change. If you are currently overwhelmed by change, however, you may need some more immediate assistance!

Getting the Support You Need to Manage Change

If you are currently experiencing a particularly challenging time, you need to take some "emergency measures" - limit your responsibilities, get extra rest, take time to relax, and ask for help.

At these times, you also need to give others the opportunity to help you.

When I was caring for my dying mother, I was feeling overwhelmed. I had all 6 signs of being "change-challenged" (to the max), and yet like many women and people who care for others, I found it hard to ask for help. Finally one night I found myself crying "help me." Hearing these words coming from my lips, the obvious hit me. I had to let people know I needed them.

Next morning I swallowed my pride and sent the word out "on the grapevine" that I needed help. I actually felt better as soon as I let go of the tremendous sense of burden.

Within 24 hours everything was completely different. Meals were arriving at the door, errands were being run, and I even was given a foot massage. Most of all I was feeling supported and discovered how happy everyone was to be able to help. Many told me how glad they were that I'd asked for help!

When we get to the point where we have exhausted our own inner resources, such as the energy and creativity I mentioned, then we need to turn to others. No matter how good we get a riding the waves of change, we need to feel we don't have to "go it alone."

The death of a loved one is one of the most challenging changes we face. Accompanying my mother in her dying process was one of the most difficult, yet rewarding experiences of my life.

Most likely you have a similar experience, and hopefully have learned and grown from it. I know I grew enormously from that experience. Not only has it been easier for me ask for and receive help, but other new skills began to grow from facing that challenge. In my next article, I'll explore how we can not only live with, but progress, from change.

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