Years ago, when I was going through some difficult times, a friend told me, “Just remember. Nothing ever stays the same. This too shall pass.” Her words truly helped me as I had been feeling as if “this was it.” My guess is a lot of people feel this way when they are experiencing trauma — they just assume they will always feel the way they are currently feeling. While we all, on some level, know that change is inevitable, somehow it’s a concept that’s often easy to forget. Indeed, those who are suffering greatly and contemplating suicide typically feel as if nothing can or will ever change for them. They have lost hope.
My friend’s thoughts were not original of course. Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, has been quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.”
I think many of us have a love-hate relationship with change. I know I do. Certainly when things are going poorly for us, we can take solace in the fact that, no matter what, things are not going to stay the same. They might get better, or they might get worse, but they are going to be different. It’s important to note that this will happen whether we proactively try to change our situation or not.
Conversely, when life is going great for us, we “want things to stay this way forever.” Let’s keep everything the same, and these happy times will continue indefinitely. Unfortunately, that’s not the way life works. Again, whether we actively try to keep things as they are or not, change is going to happen.
If change is unavoidable, what’s the point of even talking about it? Well, we are all not only affected by change, we are affected by how we feel about change. Do we embrace it? Fear it? Resist it? Avoid it as much as possible?
Obviously, how we feel about change often depends on the situation, as alluded to above. In our day-to-day lives, however, a healthy attitude toward the idea of change is important if we want to live our lives to the fullest. We all need to follow our hearts and live our lives according to our values. If fear of change is hindering us from doing this, we can work hard to change our way of thinking.
One way we can develop a more positive outlook on change is through mindfulness. Simply put, mindfulness is the act of focusing on the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. It involves noticing and accepting what is. This awareness can apply to our minds as well. We can pay attention to the choices we make (or do not make) and how they bring about change.
With change comes the unknown, and uncertainty can be difficult to accept for some people. Change often involves risks as well, and for those who are not natural risk-takers, this fact might add to the challenge of embracing change. We can use mindfulness when facing these challenges, and work toward a better relationship with change.
Life is all about choices. If you find you are not living the life you want for yourself because you are having trouble accepting and making changes, please consider therapy to help you move forward. And since we are talking about change it is interesting to note that our brains can actually change as well. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt through the creation of new neural connections.
Perhaps the best thing we can all do is to live our lives in line with our values, and not be afraid to embrace change to achieve our goals. If we do this, we not only have the potential to affect change in our personal lives, but in the lives of others as well.