Thought for the day quote

“Live Now
The past is history, so let it go. The future is a mystery, so let it come. The present is this moment now – a gift. To be truly in the present today, it is useful to release all your fears (based on the past) and your worries (imagined futures) – this is the work of someone who truly wants to awaken, and break free from the anchors and burdens of dead yesterdays and speculative tomorrows. It begins simply – with awareness. See your fears, see your worries, look at them in the face, watch them come and go. Treat them like your children on their way out to play. Let them go. Be here now they say, easier said than done, I hear you say. But no one can stop us, except for ourselves. There is only now – even if you are in planning mode, stay in the present as you plan tomorrow, it’s when we drift into tomorrow with our imagination that we succumb to a lazy avoidance of this moment.”

Last weeks thought for the day inspired me to think about ‘change’ and the impact it has upon our lives. A client once said to me “you are not even the same person every day because you have yesterday’s experience and knowledge which you can’t undo, plus you are a day older!” Absolutely right – so why is it then that so many people underestimate the power of change and its impact?

Time after time clients share with me all the changes they have experienced over the past few years from having a baby, to getting married or divorced, changing job, retirement, illness, death of a family member, moving house/area but then can’t understand why they feel lost and confused.

The Change Curve

The change curve originated by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1975.

Well the answer often starts with The Change Curve – a version of which is pictured to the right. The change curve was originated by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1975. The eagle eyed out there will notice that it is very similar to the original curve Kübler-Ross used it to explain the reaction of individuals to major losses, such as bereavement. Since then it has evolved and many large organisations have adapted it as a way to explain or even to manage, changes in the work place.

What does this mean? Well as you can see with any ‘change’ the theory is that it is perfectly natural to go through a period of mixed emotions starting with Shock, Denial, Anger followed by Regulation, Acceptance and Commitment. Of course for most people it won’t be as straight forward as ‘just going through the emotions’ in that order – there is likely to be some toing and froing and possibly some sticking for a while. It’s important to look at the types of change, as clients tell me that when it is a change of their choice rather than an enforced one the feel they ‘should’ be able to cope better (the word ‘should’ is a whole other blog for another day!!) but to me the point still remains the same – It is absolutely natural to experience a shift in emotions and a period of instability after a change in circumstances whether its enforced or by choice. Often people go through many changes simultaneously or in succession without the opportunity to experience and adapt to each change in its fullness.

I guess the next question is how long does it take to go through the curve? Well of course in a very counsellor type of way I will deflect that and say “it takes as long as it takes – as everyone is different there is no set time frame. This is your process no-one elses.”

There is also the ‘perception’ of change and the fears that that may bring. In Counselling it’s important to explore why a client maybe resistant to change or fearful of what enforced change might mean for them. People often want to make changes but uncertainty about what might happen can hold them back. The reality in many cases the actual change often is not as bad a one first perceives it might be but the anxiety it causes can be very difficult to experience. For me change is also closely linked to empowerment – if the change is out of your hands of course you are going to feel disempowered initially – how you then respond once you have processed the change is where the empowerment can be taken back. The important thing is not to rush it. Experience the change, get used to it, live with it a while, share how angry and upset you feel about it then work out how you are going to embrace it into your life and make it work for you.

The book ‘Who moved my cheese’ by Spencer Johnson takes a light-hearted metaphorical look at change using a family of mice to see who does what when faced with enforced change. What type of mouse are you?