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  • Writer's pictureKerith Kilhenny, L.Ac.

5 Tips to Welcome Unwanted Change

Change. It’s a reality we often dread and a truth we’ll never have control over.

As humans we want and crave consistency, reliability and to know when we arise in the morning, we have another safe day of beautiful life ahead of us. We deal with change every day, in the weather, traffic, people’s behavior but in general why is change so hard for us humans to accept?

Because change can feel like a threat to our survival…

but 99.9% of the time it’s not.

We are programmed to stay alive and procreate. That’s why we have the fight or flight response and why sex is so wonderful, (to keep us safe and making more babies!). We inherently resist change due to the survival instinct we are born with. When we were first on this earth, humans had scary daily survival threats such as animal attacks, and our innate responses were greatly needed. However today, unless you work in a zoo or on the African plains, our lives are quite safe. We still have the drive to survive and our reactions are a relative response to what we believe will kill us. Relatively, change can be our greatest threat, so we tend to catastrophize and spin it out to the worst of scenarios. We may think “If I lose my job, I won’t have money, I’ll lose all I have, end up homeless and die” or “If he breaks up with me, no one will ever love me again, I’ll end up alone and die.” Change can put us in a fear space. We may believe change in our carefully constructed balanced lives will destroy us, but what I have found is that it’s just the opposite.

The truth is that resisting change is a threat to our growth.

We grow when we step out of our comfort zone. Our caveman brains tell us comfort equals survival, so we don’t often look to push ourselves into new and uncomfortable territories. We may stay safe, but we also stay limited. Sometimes change is slow, obvious and painful while other times it is thrust upon us unexpectedly. How can we, once the inertia of change has begun, embrace it with as much acceptance and positivity as we can muster?

1. Breathe! Breathing deeply helps calm our nervous system, which control our Parasympathetic (Rest and Relax) and the Sympathetic (Fight or Flight) responses. If you are in a “I will die if this happens” mindset, taking 10 slow deep breaths can calm that state of being and bring you into the present. Being in the present moment keeps us out of fear of what may happen, as the future has not happened yet! Don’t short change your life by projecting fear onto a time that has yet to manifest. Let the future meet you in the way that is meant to (and breathe until it gets there).

2. Make A Gratitude List. When I make a list of all the wonderful things I have in my life presently, (Home, food, heat, a bed and income to name a few) I realize I am doing just fine and that I will be ok with whatever comes. I have had some hard changes but I also have wonderful aspects to my life at all times, no matter what difficult change is happening. Whatever I focus on gets bigger, so I try to focus on what I have in the moment to stay positive through a challenging transition.

3. Find The Upside. What are the possible positive aspects about this change? Is this something you were secretly hoping for but too afraid to take action on? Is it something you know needs to happen, but in fear of it being too painful? Change happens because it needs to, whether it be the ending of a job, a relationship or just time to leave a party; change is necessary for all of us to move forward. Try to stay focused on any positives that will come out of this change.

4. Relax The Fight & Reach For Faith. Are you fighting this change by wishing, hoping or obsessing that it does not happen? Are you sacrificing your sanity by pushing back on something you are powerless over? How would you act if you knew you could not change the outcome? Would you fight it, or relax and focus on what you can have power over? Perhaps you are losing one thing so something better may enter your life. What if you knew how amazing the next job, partner, house, town was going to be? You’d look back at you your resistance and wonder why did you ever fight it.

5. Find Your Reference Point. Your experience is your truth. Think about a change you dreaded that turned out to be better than you ever could have imagined. Look back at your process of accepting that change. Find the blessings you have in life today from it and know that you will be ok through this change too. Can you trust although this change is excruciating, you are going to be alright and possibly better off for it? You got through the last change and you are alive. You will get through this and be taken care of too.

I just went through some major changes of my own. They were ones I ultimately wanted (for years!) but I put myself in a lot of self inflicted pain by clinging to the old & familiar and not taking any actions towards them. I wanted to stay in the comfort of what I knew instead of courageously jumping in to the new and unknown. I would have never known what else was there unless I took the leap. So I did. I moved from the city back to Long Island and I am opening up a new practice in a new town. It’s been wonderful and challenging but I know this change is good. Even when it feels uncomfortable, I know to stick with it until it changes again. Because it will.

Photo by Alex Radelich on Unsplash

Hang in there my friend, as whatever change your are experiencing will change too. You are ok and will continue to be ok no matter the winds of change bring.

Come visit me in my new Acupuncture Office on Long Island in Patchogue, NY! Let’s chat about your changes, get you on the table and move some qi to help you through this experience. 

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