The Difficulty Embracing Change



The change of the seasons.


Change may be the only real constant in our lives and yet we often resist it with every fiber of our being.  How many people do you know who complain about some new thing (i.e some change) in their lives?  And really, isn’t the solution for them to find a way to embrace that change instead of fight it?


Real Constant


If you think about change in the abstract, it’s like examining a constantly fluctuating force—a never ending battering of wind and tide that weaves in, out, through and all around our lives.  It propels us along in ways we never expected.  It pushes us to take on new ways of coping.  Sometimes it kicks us in the behind or knocks us flat.  Curiously, there’s no real means to predict it—except perhaps to recognize its ongoing nature and attach meaning to familiar patterns that pop up from time to time.




I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I say I often find change is uncomfortable or even painful to manage.  In spite of knowing the futility, my tendency is to try to maintain an illusion I can control life or at least control various aspects of it.  Isn’t it crazy how much we all struggle to keep things “as they are”?  Or how much we rail against it when change forces its way to the forefront?


Can’t Stop It


I can't control change, but it does control me.

There’s no stopping it.

Think about it:  I cannot will the universe to stop changing.  My place in the universe is so insignificant I am but the merest whisper of a whisper of a breath caught up in the raging storm that blows across the sands of time.   In fact, even when I reduce the scale to a level my mind can grasp (such as my place of living or those people I interact with on a daily basis) I still have no real power to stop change.  I can’t control the seasons, or the weather, or the local economy, or what people eat, or their hormones, or the cycle of aging, or the mood of my boss, or the way others want to treat me, and on and on.  And yet even knowing these things to be true on an intellectual level, I still envision a world where change is the enemy.


Close Encounter


As I think of the recent complaints of life I’ve shared with my loving spouse or friends, I can’t think of one that at its core doesn’t come down to a complaint about change.  For example, I have made any number of references to all the stuff (i.e. leaves, dirt, pine needles, etc.) the dog brings in to the house every time he enters.  For some reason, even after living with this creature for over five years, it’s like I still expect “my freshly cleaned space” won’t be cluttered by his forays into the back yard.


Say It Isn’t So


Or take a random morning encounter with my bathroom mirror.  As I wash away the grit from my eyes in an attempt to bring my brain to a level of consciousness fit for interacting with both spouse and dog, I’ll suddenly note that (surprise, surprise) my hair is noticeable thinner on top.  It’s a disappointment without doubt, but why I find it so disturbing or fail to recognize the trend is the real mystery here.  After all, I’m getting older every day and this is just a natural part of that cycle, so why on earth should it bother me?


That Hurt


And then there are they unexpected changes:  Last night I shared a delightful evening with a group of friends at one of their houses, and all was perfectly normal until the very moment I was ready to hop in the car and go home.  As I was catching a ride home with a friend, I moved around his car to enter the rear passenger door and without warning my shoe caught a patch of uneven ground, my ankle rolled and I fell straight to the ground.  It only took a second, but in that second I went from a state of believing myself to be relatively strong and healthy individual to one where I am reminded of the fragility of life and the ease at which everything about it can change in the blink of the eye.  FYI:  The ankle is swollen, but I’ll recover.


From Every Direction


In the end, there are all kinds of different changes a person may face in a given moment: There is the ongoing change that comes from the passage of time, the change that comes from our interaction with our environment (or with those who reside alongside us within it), and the unexpected changes that pop up without warning—the ones that catch us off guard.




One might think life would be far easier for everyone if we all embraced change rather than fought it tooth and nail.  And yet, it feels like part of the human condition is to attach meaning to our experiences, and with this attachment we assign value.  Thus, the issue of embracing change seems to become one of letting go of attachment to those things or experiences we hold most dear.  Maybe this is why change is so painful—it forces us to wrestle with constant feelings of loss and letting go.




I think age plays a significant role in the process of dealing with change, too.  As a young child the store of my experience was small, and thus, the loss I might feel over some new change was small in proportion.  Now, that I’m older and have significantly more life experience, the loss feels proportionally greater when I encounter something new.  It makes me wonder of the future and mankind’s oft-stated desire to extend the span of human life.  Would change become easier to accept if we lived to be 150, 200 or 500 years old?  Would we do better managing it?  Would we gain new insight into the human condition?  Or would all the extra life experience we gain only increase the loss we’d feel every time we encountered it?


Change R Us


For whatever reason, embracing change is far easier for some than others, but either way it seems the issue comes down the ability to recognize a few simple facts:  Life doesn’t exist for us if change is no longer a part of the equation.  Life is change.  Thus, when we struggle against change we really struggle against ourselves.


I'm happier when I go with the flow.

Change is part of the natural equation of life. Learn to go with the flow.

In the end, I can fight change kicking and screaming, or try to adopt a more “whatever-will-be-will-be-go-with-the-flow” attitude for dealing with it.  While I often employ the first method with a real sense of gusto, I’ve gradually learned it is my direct path to feeling more stressed and irritable.  On the other hand, the latter method grants at least some chance of finding the inner peace I so desperately crave.


Do you embrace change?  Do you fight it?  Do you complain about it?  How did you overcome a difficult change? Please share your comments below.


If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read:
Time To Shift Your Paradigm

Recommended reading: The Tao Of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff



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