Whether you’re in a natural disaster or facing a crisis of the personal kind, drastic change is tough. Even changes we choose to make for ourselves bring discomfort. But extreme and sudden changes win the prize for throwing us into shock. We find ourselves in the midst of the Big Unknown, and feel disoriented, uncertain and insecure. Our survival mechanisms flick on. What’s happening? What am I going to do? How will I get through this?
Zen Philosopher Alan Watts says, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
“The dance!” you might say. “Are you out of your mind? This is no dance! It’s a crisis, a disaster!.”
Yup. That’s what it is alright. The shock and fear and rage you feel is just the thunder of the drums as the dance begins. And here’s the magic of it. You get to choose its rhythms and its moods, its tempo and all the steps and melodies.
Life will, after all, go on. Even when you can’t begin to fathom how. And the only way to find out how it will go is to keep moving forward, one step at a time.
Let your first step be recognizing and respecting that you’re in crisis mode. Our normal response to emotions is to generate stories or recall memories around them. When you’re in shock and overwhelmed with strong emotion, it’s important to make stories that center around your values and strengths instead of painting the situation as an unrecoverable loss. Yes, it may be a loss of huge, important parts. But while the loss itself may be unrecoverable, you are capable of creating a new and positive version of your life as you go forward.
The old saying that every change has within it the seeds of opportunity is true. Decide that you will adapt and overcome. Consider the idea that you might not only overcome, but make something incredibly strong and beautiful from this experience in your life.
Instead of being overcome with sadness, let the heaviness of your grieving take the form of deeper, more grateful thought. Experiment with looking at things from a different perspective. Imagine you’re that guy over there, looking at you. What would you want him to see? Imagine looking back on this in time and feeling proud of how well you handled it. Play with this as being a dramatic section of your life dance, or as an adventure or a grand exploration. See what you find interesting about your current status. Be curious about it and about what you might make of it.
American poet and educator Nikki Giovanni gives us this insight about change:
A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it
Isn’t that an extraordinary idea? You can allow yourself to enjoy who are even in the midst of stepping from a familiar world into a brand new one. It’s like stepping onto a new stage in this dance of your life and writing its music any way you want. You decide. What kind of soundtrack is playing? How do you want to shape it from here?
It’s up to you. Isn’t that wondrous?
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You may also find these articles helpful:
How to Be Resilient When Crisis Strikes
When the Future Dies: Making a New Start After Tragedy and Disaster When Happiness Goes Dark: How to Deal with Life’s Traumas
When Things Go Wrong: 7 Steps to Regaining Balance