One of the beauties in life is that there is no one fixed formula for things. We are free to explore and experience what works for us. At the most challenging time in life, it does seem a lot easier if someone would simply tell us what to do rather than finding our own way, but then we would lose our autonomy and authorship in writing our own chapters in life. After all, we can only progress when we learn, and we can only learn when we experience.
Changes come with different intensity, depth and duration. Changes, often, are unexpected. Even when they are expected, it doesn’t make them any easier to deal with.
My shares in going through changes have taught me a lot. A few people asked me after my last blog if going out with my husband regularly and using essential oil really did the trick for me. They helped, and are still helping a lot. Anything coming from outside of us is really just a helping hand. The real work needs to be done by ourselves and within ourselves.
I carry a “Compass” with me each day and I use it more consciously whenever I find myself going through challenging time. There are 5 major elements in The Compass, and they all help me tremendously each time I take on a new change in life. And yes, we do choose to take on changes. We can indeed say no to changes if that’s what we wish. The choice is always ours. With each choice comes its own consequences though. So choose mindfully and wholeheartedly.
1. Permission to give ourselves time and space – it takes time as well as space to adjust to changes. We are happy to give people as much time and space as they need to adjust simply and frankly because we are not the ones who are going through it, but less so to ourselves simply and frankly no one likes being out of her comfort zone.
All changes need to run through their own cycles. Without the natural cycles, we are just putting more stress on ourselves and, possibly, further delaying the cycles. Whatever we are going through, be it a new role, a relocation or a massive life change, there is nothing wrong finding ourselves in an uncomfortable spot.
Allow ourselves go through the changes with our natural rhythm. Just like the rain finding its way from the earth to the sky then back down to earth as rain drops. The more we rush it, the harder and longer the process will be.
2. Be brutally honest with ourselves – when I say brutally, I mean brutally. There is no hiding or playing a “be nice” game. If you don’t like the job, admit it. If you don’t like your friends or partners or even kids, say it. If you feel you are lost, acknowledge it.
It’s totally okay to admit it even when it seems we are being ungrateful or not nice to someone or something. We don’t like someone or something for a reason, and that reason can’t surface unless we allow it. By denying our truth and feelings, we are denying ourselves the chance in understanding the real issue, i.e. ourselves. If we want to move forward and reveal our true selves, we need to peel that onion of ours, layers by layers, even when it makes us cry.
I feel that many of us stay away from our truth because we are worried of being judged negatively, by others as well as by ourselves. Our thoughts, our comments, our actions, everything about us we want to be seen as “nice” or “right” or both. We want to be accepted and recognized, being part of something or someone. We play “peek-a-boo” with our truth that we are uncomfortable with – we look at it when no one is looking at us but we hide from it when someone is looking at us.
The only person who needs to know the truth is ourselves. When we are ready to deal with our own truth, we are then ready to deal with our changes.
3. Quiet time alone – the power of a little quiet time alone, even if you simply sit in a coffee shop alone watching the world go by, cannot be underestimated. When changes happen, our minds usually are the 1st ones that race. Whilst we do need the adrenaline at times to get us going, having a calm and steady heart is vital, specially when there is a major change in life.
The mind needs to know whereas the heart needs to feel. We need to have a calm mind in order to feel. We can’t live without the mind, nor can we live without the heart. So a happy balance between the two is needed.
I find that having a fixed quiet time alone helps calm the mind and the heart to feel. When the mind knows when it can rest, it will race less. Without knowing when the next quiet time is, the mind will race, followed by the heart and the mind… It’s a vicious cycle.
When we are calm and centered, our minds will be clear and our hearts will be open. This is how we want to be when we deal with changes. If you can’t have daily time alone even for 5 mins, it’s fine. Do it every other day or once a week. However suits you. After all, it’s your way, not my way.
4. Make decisions with our heart, not our mind – yes, even if it makes absolute no sense. Life decisions don’t always make logical sense. If we were to let our heads rule all the time, we would simply miss out a lot of important and meaningful stuff in life.
Most of my major life decisions are made with my heart no matter how senseless they might have been. I can manage the practicality no matter how hard it may be, with a driving force coming from knowing I am allowing my life to live. However, I can’t say with the same commitment that I can manage my life as easily going forward, knowing fully well that I am lying to myself with open eyes.
There are many articles out there on this point. Some saying we should follow our hearts and do what we want to do or else we would have regrets for the rest of our lives. But then there are people saying “what about the bills that keep coming in?” – arguing that not everyone can follow their dreams.
We all have bills to pay. We all need to eat and cloth ourselves. We all need a roof over our heads. There is no magic formula in this. We need our heads for practicality in life (eg finance) and we need our hearts for life directions (eg passion). Some decisions are totally ruled by heads whereas others by our hearts. It’s a matter of priority, timing and planning. For me, the bottom line is – “how much do you want it?”. If you want it, you will find your way to make it happen. If you don’t want it, the excuses will just keep coming.
5. Allow nature do its work – Changes have no stop or an end. Changes are not static. When life changes, we need to change. When we change, our surroundings will change. One change leads into another. Allow nature do its work. Observing and recognizing the changes in us and the nature will bring us what serves us in replacement of what doesn’t serve us. This process can only happen when we don’t cling on to the old stuff. We let go of the old and be open to the new. So don’t be surprised when you find your best friends slowly turning into your worst friends.
Nature has its own timing. Often, when we change, we expect everything around us to change at the same pace. When that doesn’t happen, we get terribly frustrated.
Nature knows its work. How the sun and the moon works in pair, how the rain comes down when the moisture gets too saturated, how the oceans carry the current in the vastness, how the birds find their bearings with the help of nature in their yearly migration. Give nature the power and the time and the magic will come.
Let nature work on us whilst we work on ourselves. Birds have to extend their wings and open their hearts before they leap and fly. And we, too, need to open our arms and hearts before we can flow with life.
The Compass is something that I practice daily. Still, I don’t find it any easier now than before as life keeps on changing, and changing in all sorts of ways and directions. However, with The Compass, I know there is a place I can turn to, with both feet firmly on the ground, a clear mind to see and an open heart to feel instead of being easily swept away by the unexpected waves of changes, losing my sight as well as my heart.
The Compass in within us all if only do we let ourselves connect with our true selves. There is no magic in The Compass, the magic is in You.