Conscious Versus Unconscious Change: How to Navigate the Inevitable
Change happens to all of us but sometimes it is difficult to see, especially if it is gradual. I recall coaching someone a couple of years back who was upset about her mother; how things between them were not like they used to be. She listed various things about her mother’s health and age but did not piece together that essentially their relationship has changed because of the very things she listed. Her mother was getting older, and winding down, and this change is upsetting because it’s a loss. When I framed it that way, she started to cry. They were tears of relief and grief, the reality had set in that her relationship with her mother will not be the same, that she is getting older. She felt better in the end, feeling and processing some of the loss during our session and feeling more accepting of the situation. Like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, she wanted on some level for time to stand still.
I share this story with you because I believe most of us have an oblivious or ambivalent relationship to change: we want it but don’t, we see it and don’t. I see this push and pull with prospective and current clients all the time, myself included. Of course conscious change is easier said than done. We are hardwired to stay safe and survive, our reptilian brain tends to repeat what we know whether it serves us or not. So when we venture off and explore the unknown we can be met with some serious change back and counter moves. This is when internal or external sources feel threatened and sabotage your efforts, usually unconsciously. Think new year resolutions, how many times did you set a goal to become more fit, eat better and to start that project only to have it slide off your radar after a couple of months? I have lost count. Stronger habits and stubborn change back are usually the culprits. Ultimately if we change we face loss, whether real or perceived.
I had a session with a client the other day who has made tremendous progress in our work together, but with some things there hasn’t been a lot of traction. We worked it out and his fear of the loss of his wife’s and parents’ love and approval was what was holding him back.
This one is usually the biggest whopper to prevent change: fearing the loss of love and belonging. The thing is we can lose those things if we don’t change as well, along with our dignity, so how do we move forward with such a threat?
I suggest becoming aware of the thoughts and feelings that are holding you back and working through them, on your own, with a coach or friend. Realize that there are two forces at play: entropy, or atrophy, and evolution. One is decay, or stasis, and the other is growth. Ask yourself if you are growing and fulfilling who you know yourself to be or see yourself to be. Have dreams, visions and great expectations, visualize. Take 5-10 minutes each night, before bed, and visualize your dream of owning that home, having that family and being successful in your career. Flesh it out; engage your senses during your visualization. Top athletes do it. They mentally rehearse their performance over and over again. What do you see, smell, taste and hear? Really feel it. This will help you become confident and accepting of the steps and change to make it happen. Currently, I am working on a valentine date with Idris Elba. :)
Similar to season or solar cycles, we too have different cycles of change and we are generally in flux. Conscious or not, change happens, whether that is age, time, etc. The question is: do you want it to be conscious and growth-oriented or, aging aside, degenerative and unconscious? Do you see it? Do you desire it?
Ps. Seeking change? You can set up a complimentary Get Acquainted Call to see if I can help.