“The only constant in life is change” – Heraclitus
One thing in life we can rely on is that we are subject to continual change all around us. How we respond to that change can dictate our success, our happiness and fulfilment, and our relationship with others.
Many of us fear change. Our ego creates stories around an upcoming change, usually negative ones, causing us to resist the change and catastrophise around the outcome. At a time when change has really picked up pace, particularly in the workplace, driven by economic uncertainty and digital transformation, we need to get more comfortable with it. After all it is inevitable and resistance only makes it harder.
But how can we achieve this?
Self mastery enables us to reframe change; to detach from our current situation and accept change as it comes to us, to observe our initial reactions and emotions as they arise and turn inwards to understand their root cause. Is it really the change itself that is problematic, or experiences in our past or entrenched beliefs that are making it so?
Improving our relationship with change involves building our resilience and surrendering to the fact that we cannot control or prevent it. We are not relinquishing control entirely however, as there is one thing that we do have control over; our response.
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” Victor Frankl
Start by becoming aware
Awareness is the first step as you encounter change. Our ego can push us to have an instant reaction, often negative, which left unchecked impacts those around us. Even if we are not actively sharing these reactions, our inner thoughts are revealed, intentionally or not, in the energy we exude. Negative thoughts create negative energy, which is then mirrored back at us, creating a loop that can be really destructive. Imagine if we could control those inner thoughts, guiding them towards positivity, enabling us to emit positive energy that would then positively influence the energy of those around us?
If we can stay present and tune in to the emotions that are initially coming up we can identify them and have the opportunity to choose whether that is how we would like to respond. We can start to unpick and understand where these emotions are coming from, maybe past experiences with change or certain beliefs of ourselves or others, and work through them.
If you find it hard to step back from your initial emotions, change your surroundings if you can, go somewhere where you can focus in on what’s coming up for you. Take a moment to check in on how you are feeling. Writing down those initial thoughts, feelings and emotions can help get them out in a more controlled way. Meditate on it. Allow yourself time for the initial reactions to dissipate so you can think more clearly.
Look at the facts
A good way to weed out your ego is to look at the facts. Consider the thoughts and fears that are coming up for you, write them down. Look at the known facts of the change, write them down too. The facts are where you should be focusing, they will help you stay grounded and make decisions based on things that are known rather than feared.
Look at past experience
Consider how you have handled a similar change or challenge in the past. What was the outcome of that change? Were your initial fears realised? Overall was the change beneficial? This helps regain positivity and perspective as well as highlighting how there can be a disconnect between your initial response and the actual outcome, a great real life, personal example of your ego at work.
Use habits to balance change
When we are surrounded by change, or experiencing significant upheaval in our lives it really helps to maintain some constants. Habits are a great way to maintain routine and feel more settled. From exercise and morning routine to weekly catch ups with friends or family, simple activities that we do regularly help us to cope with change and it's important to retain these.
Change can bring about the whole spectrum of egoic behaviour
I recently posted about the different ways your ego shows up. All of these different egoic behaviours can show up when we are going through some form of change. Reacting, complaining, name calling, giving judgmental feedback, worrying and overthinking can all come up in this environment. None are productive. Whenever they creep in your ego is in control and you need to detach to move forwards.
Accept and embrace change by accepting and embracing the present moment. You cannot change the present moment but you can adjust how you respond to it. Through acceptance there is an inner peace that totally changes your reality. Your reality is after all only that which you perceive it to be.
Self mastery is developing control over your inner world. The change that this creates generates transformative change in your outer world. For more on self mastery download the Stone Heart Light Heart audiobook, out now from audible, spotify, google play and apple books.
You can listen to Stella narrate excerpts from the book on Soundcloud.