For those who have seen me recently, you know that there’s a lot of that going on in my work life. The new office came with a beautiful view and a few surprises. The building has been under construction and has looked more like a “war zone” than an office building. But still, despite all the chaos of moving and of moving into a building under construction, I have found myself at peace with the process.
This has gotten me thinking about the process of change and how it can be both the most exciting and the most stressful experience. And, this has gotten me thinking about that old cliché, “sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.”
So many times, people have said to me, “Dr. Irene, I know I came to see you because I needed to make some important changes in my life. But, now that I’ve started to make those changes, I almost feel worse. I’m not sure if this is worth it.”
Whenever we make changes in our lives, both major and minor ones, we create a new sensation in our body, our mind and our spirit. In our body, this sensation can present itself as increased heart rate, tightness in the chest or muscles, and a sense of a different kind of energy in our body. In the mind, this sensation can present itself as “obsessing” over ever thought or decision about the event, difficulty concentrating on other things, and changes in mood. In the spirit, this can lead to feelings of uncertainty and discomfort.
What fascinates me most is that these sensations can be interpreted as either anxiety or excitement. In fact, the primary difference in the experience of anxiety or excitement is in whether you see the situation for its potential good outcomes or for all the things that could go wrong.
This is where that old cliché comes in. In that moment of time when we don’t quite know what to make of the situation, our experience is that the process of making the change is more uncomfortable than the situation we wanted to change. We want to know how things will end. It’s like we’re watching a suspenseful thriller of a movie and all of a sudden there’s a break, leaving us uncomfortably yelling at the TV while we have to watch some ridiculous commercial and wonder what happens next. That moment is very uncomfortable.
But, once we begin to formulate an opinion about how things are going – do they seem to be going well or do they seem be going not so well – and, we communicate that opinion to our body, mind and spirit, the situation begins to change. The sensations begin to make sense. We begin to see things for the beauty of their potential.
So, I guess what I’m suggesting is, before you start panicking about the process of the change, the construction of your future if you will, give yourself some time to unfold the progress and make sense of the outcome. Once the dust clears and you begin to see the potential of the situation, things can look rather exciting.