Learning to Embrace the Change

Welcome to spring 2020.  While we are supposed to be enjoying the extra daylight and warmer temperatures, worldwide, instead we are muddling through unprecedented times together.  On March 11, 2020 when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, things got real.

At the time of writing, the ‘lucky ones’ are working from home while simultaneously teaching their children. The ‘unlucky ones’ are furloughed or now filing for unemployment and anxiously awaiting their stimulus checks. With all change, comes uncertainty, confusion, pain, and anxiety. Change also brings on, in very real terms, financial burdens, job losses, schedule changes, insomnia, unprocessed trauma, panic attacks, and mental health breakdowns.  

To weather this storm, we are required to be flexible, dependable, adaptable, intelligent, and calm… how’s that going for you? According to the news, my social worker colleagues, my friends, and my social media feed, as a nation and world, we are not doing well with this unwelcome and untimely change.

So, let’s talk about change for a minute.  Change can come into our lives in many ways. It can arrive as a beautiful baby, a diamond engagement ring, or a corner office suite.  Change, of course, can also arrive as a debilitating health diagnosis, the discovery of an extra-martial affair, or passing of a loved one too soon.

Additionally, change can happen at an individual level, across a community or particular subculture or change can impact the entire world. In the case of COVID-19, change is happening at many levels. Because this change moved upon us quickly, and has deadly consequences, you are likely to feel its presence with intensity.

It is key to remember that change, itself, is not inherently bad, it is just different. However, for many millions of people change causes anxiety. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 40 million American adults are already diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  And, now, many of us are feeling anxiety for the very first time or in a very different way given the stats on this virus and changing economy. 

So, why does change bring on anxiety? Because, our brains are wired to protect us and the primal brain interprets change as danger. Thus, we feel anxious when we are thrust into change because it feels dangerous. Add to that our inherent fear of death and we have real recipe for disaster. Whether that proverbial disaster is real or imagined, it feels like the world is ending. However, I am here to offer hope. The purpose of writing this piece is to offer you a different perspective on change, anxiety, and COVID-19.

I am a certified Seasons of Change Coach.  This means I use nature and the seasons to help my clients understand change.  Using the seasons gives us a roadmap for the process of change.  It also allows us to understand exactly where we are in the change cycle. For many clients, just understanding their experience within the framework of the seasons allows them to breathe easier and it instills hope.  Hope comes from understanding where you’ve been, how you got there, where you are today, and where you are going.  

We are all experiencing change right now, and so, we are all entering the season of fall. I wrote a blog giving an in-depth explanation of the Seasons of Change model, which you can read here, but for the purpose of today’s message, I will give you a very brief overview of the model. 

Summer

Think of summer as the season of hope and plenty. You are enjoying the fruits of your labor. It’s the time when everything in life is working well. You are calm, happy, and your thoughts are positive. The feeling of summer often comes with career promotions, a new baby, or an engagement. But, just as in nature, summer cannot last forever. Fall is coming.

Fall

When change enters, we are entering our own season of fall. Just as the leaves change color and the days become darker, so to does this happen in life when we experience major change. At the time of writing, the novel coronavirus is our catalyst for change but the change catalyst could also be: a divorce, retirement, a relapse into alcoholism, relocation, or the death of your pet. In fall, we take our cues from the squirrels and field mice- it’s a time to gather our resources for the winter.  Fall is time for accepting and integrating that change has arrived. Following fall, comes winter.

Winter

Winter is that time when we may feel overwhelmed by grief, lethargic, or depressed. Winter feels like it will never end, but it will. It always does. You will feel tired and you will prefer isolation over socialization. Just as a bear hibernates in winter, so will you. You will know that your season of winter is ending when you have a little more energy or you start reaching out to friends again. Just as in nature, winter is followed by spring.

Spring

Spring has a creative, hopeful, energizing feel to it. You will know you’re embracing spring when you start to cultivate ideas for your new life. You will also start to notice the colorful flower popping through the dark terrain and songbirds outside your windows- maybe they ahve been there a while but you just did not notice them. Your perspective on life is changing- in a good way.  Just remember that whatever caused this change last fall, has changed you forever. This means your new life will look different than it did last fall. Spring is a time for experimenting with your new identity in the new world. 

Summer

And, alas, we are back at summer. You will, once again, feel alive, happy, capable and confident. Things will, again, be steady and harmonious until the next major life change. Remember, change is an ever- moving cycle of life. We cannot and will not stay in one season indefinitely. 

Now that you have a framework for the Seasons of Change model, let’s get back to talking about the season of fall because we are in all fall thanks to COVID-19.  Fall often brings about feelings of anxiety. Remember, we already learned that our brains interpret change as danger so it is normal to feel some level of anxiety when we go through a major life transition. Within the past month all of us have been thrust, unwilling, into this major change. So now what? Now, as we are entering fall, we must adequately prepare ourselves for winter.  Here’s a simple list of dos and don’ts.

DO:

  • Acknowledge that change is happening
  • Feel your feelings; expressing them allows you to release them. Not sure how? Ask me!
  • Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally by reaching out to friends, family and professionals like life coaches and psychotherapists
  • Gather and take stock of your financial resources- review your budget, eliminate waste, and secure your investments as best you can
  • Update your resume, make sure your LinkedIn profile is professional and complete, reach out to old colleagues. Make professional connections in preparation for any unforeseen work changes
  • Review your options, gather information, assess the situation from all angles.
  • Take time for integration of the news, the changes, and your new options
  • Create a safe place for reflection. This may be a physical location in your house where you can light a candle and meditate or it might be a ritual like journaling each morning. Find a system that works for your personal situation.

DO NOT:

  • Deny that change is happening.  Denial will definitely lead you further into trouble.
  • Make a change now, if it’s within your power. Fall is a time for integrating that the change is coming or has already happened. Now is a time to gather resources and assessment, not taking  major actions, if possible.
  • Make hasty changes out of fear. Yes, you are scared and yes you need a job. But to the degree that you can, try not to jump hastily from the ‘pot into the fire’. Ensure your basic needs are met and from there continue to assess your options.
  • Isolate yourself.  This is not a time for going solo on or relying solely on your own perspective. This is a time for building your tribe or seeking wise guidance from trusted sources.

It’s a normal human response to want to restore balance in our lives when something changes.  But, just because it is normal, it does not necessarily mean it is good for us. We may want to jump into a new relationship as soon as our divorce papers are signed or we eagerly want to accept the first job offer after a week of job searching but it does not mean we should. The most important thing to remember about the season of fall is that life is changing and our new life will not look like our old life. When we rush to restore balance or replace our old partner with a new one, we are trying to get our old life back. The seasons only move in one direction and so too does our cycle of change.  Next fall will not be a repeat of last fall. Yes, there will be similarities but they will not be identical because we are changing professionally and personally as we grow from each new experience and each preceding season of life.

When we attach to a fixed mindset, rather than a growth mindset, we miss a huge opportunity for growth, personal development, and abundance.  Yes, we all want the world to return to its pre-coronavirus state, but that is not possible. So, embrace that the change has happened and take time now to integrate what this means for you on a personal, professional, and global level.

It is crucial to remember that change brings about possibilities that you have not yet seen or imagined. Right now, you can only see the bad, ugly, scary side of change but that’s not the whole truth.  The whole truth of this change has yet to be revealed. Now is the time to trust the process of change. Think of a sleeping bear; when he goes into hibernation, he does not worry about sleeping through spring, he knows that in the right time, he will wake up and remerge into activity.  Or, think of caterpillars. They move through the seasons of their lives only to transform into a beautiful, limitless butterflies. Imagine if they resisted change… can you imagine a world without butterflies?

If you are wondering how this current transition could possibly have a silver lining, think about another major life transition you have gone through. What occurred that you did not foresee?  If you lost your job, did you land another new career with even better hours and benefits?  If you went through a divorce, did you discover strength and grit you didn’t know you possessed?  If you suffered an illness that prevented you from hiking and canoeing, did you discover new hobbies like writing and singing?  Yes, you will feel a sense of loss in this time, but you will also discover something new and unseen. This time requires perseverance, agility, a hopeful perspective and maybe even a little faith.  

Carrie Mead, MS
Curiosity Life Coaching
Westminster, MD

If you would like to know more about how to successfully navigate whatever major life transition you are facing, reach out. If something written here resonates with you, reach out. If you want to learn more about how to use the seasons as your guide for change, reach out. I would be happy to guide you through the steps necessary to live a fearlessly abundant life, even in the midst of change. I can teach you how to weather these storms, become stronger and fearless, and how to thrive once again.  Schedule your free consultation today.

Carrie Mead, MS is a Professional Life Coach, Psychotherapist, and Reiki practitioner based in Maryland. Carrie created Curiosity Life Coaching to help men and women successfully navigate major life transitions such as retirement, divorce, career changes, and loss. Carrie provides guidance, support and empowering exercises to help her clients redefine and enact on their life’s mission following a major life transition. Connecting authentically and compassionately forms the basis of all of Carrie’s personal and professional relationships. Carrie holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from McDaniel College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Gettysburg College. Carrie is a Certified Seasons of Change Coach. Learn more by visiting www.curiositylifecoaching.com

The benefits of hiring a professional life coach

We all go through periods of time when we could benefit from some wise, objective, and thoughtful support to reach our goals.  Friends and family can be great for offering advice, but life coaching isn’t about advice-giving.  Life coaching is about empowering you to identify your desires, set your intentions and then, of course, achieve your goals.  

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a working mother, a college student, a highly respected expert in your professional arena or just starting your adult life, life coaching can be beneficial to your personal and professional development.  Although many niches exist within the realm of life coaching, all coaches have one common goal and that is to help you, the client, set and achieve your goals.  This is why I feel so strongly that everyone can benefit from professional life coaching.   

Maybe as you read this, it occurs to you that you don’t have a clear goal or sense of direction for your life.  What a great realization!  Life coaching can assist you in getting clear on your values, your purpose and your passions. Through this process, undoubtably, goals will arise and hopefully excitement will arise about the possibilities for your future.

If your interest is piqued, here are some brief exercises of self-discovery to help you hone into the aspects of your life that are flowing in the right direction and where you need to direct extra attention. Make time for yourself to sit quietly and thoughtfully with the questions below. Have some materials nearby for taking notes; I prefer pen and paper, but you may prefer taking notes on a computer or dictating thoughts into your phone. No matter the method, it’s important to take notes! 

Do not rush the process, self- discovery and intentional inquiry take time. These exercises are designed to get you off auto-pilot and back into your present life. If you enter this exercise with an open and curious mind, you will have a lot of fun and discover something unknown about yourself.  

  1. When is the last time you experienced overwhelming joy? What were you doing? Who were you with? What surprised you by your joyous reaction? Describe this time in detail in your notes and replay it in your mind as if it were happening now.  Engage your five senses. What do you see, hear, smell, feel and taste as you recall this memory?  What stands out about this memory or experience?
  • How and when do you know when you are in the flow of life?  What are the signals you receive internally (i.e. sensations in your body, physical health, dreams or thoughts in your mind) and externally (i.e. how do you engage with others and how do they respond to you)? How can you create more of this in your life? Is there a specific action, thought or way of being that might help you create this experience again, no matter what’s going on around you?
  • Reflect on just one major area of your life such as your profession, your finances, your romantic relationship or your spiritual practice.  Is this area of your life as fulfilling and abundant as you want it to be? Are you dedicating time and energy to this area?  If so, how?  Be specific. Does this area of your life bring you joy, pride and a sense of fulfillment? Or does this area leave you with a sense of dread, regret or fear?  Are you possibly ignoring this area of your life simply because you don’t how to move forward or are you over-focused on this successful area of life while ignoring less appealing aspects of your life? Be honest with yourself. Describe your thoughts, feelings and intentions around this subject.  At a later time, you can repeat this exercise with another focus.

As you have worked through these teachings, reflect on what you have learned.  Have common themes or patterns arisen? If so, are these patterns facilitating your growth or impeding you?  Reflection is a process, so pay attention to what arises for your in the coming days and weeks as you continue to think through these self-discovery lessons.  

The experience of receiving life coaching is a way to discover unknown aspects (aka, Shadow work) of ourselves, and, perhaps most importantly, make changes in our lives so that we are truly living the life we desire.  Without action steps, the self-discovery is somewhat inefficient. What good is it to understand all aspects of ourselves- known and unknown; light and dark; positive and negative- but then do nothing to make adjustments accordingly? Taking action and bridging the gap between where you are today and where you want to be is a key component of life coaching. With this in mind, a professionally trained life coach will assist you in creating and executing a strategy for your life.

Again, the benefits of creating the plan or new years resolution without follow-through are quite limited.  I believe all of us have had ‘great plans’ that never materialized. This is a common human experience. With a life coach by your side, you are sure to take to those action steps. Think of your life coach as your accountability partner.  This means that as you create your plans and make commitments to the steps of your plan, your coach will hold you responsible for taking the steps. That doesn’t mean you must complete each step exactly as planned, but it does mean that you will explore, adjust and refocus if you find you are unable or unwilling to stay on task.  This is a fundamental part of the process of coaching. And, all the while, you are supported by your coach.

Are you intrigued? Do you want to know more? Are you ready to get started? Set-up a free consultation by clicking here.

I would be happy to answer any questions you have or to offer you a free phone consultation to assess if I would be the right professional life coach for you.   As with all healing professions, not every coach is right for every client nor is every client right for every coach.   This free consultation will help us find out if we’re a good fit for one another. I look forward to hearing from you when the time is right.

You can reach me,  Carrie C. Mead, by email at: curiositylifecoaching@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook @curiositylifecoaching, Instagram @curiositylifecoachandreiki or the web at: www.curiositylifecoaching.com.

Carrie Mead, MS
Curiosity Life Coaching
Baltimore, MD