“Between a stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Viktor Frankl
The air is crisp, apples are ripe, and children are back at school. As nature begins to shed its green summer dress for a vibrant mélange coat of crimson and orange, many of us are feeling the yearly cyclical pull of change. Some are welcoming it with excitement, while others are having a hard time letting go of the hot and free days of summer. Change can be difficult, but it must happen and fall is a good time to think about change in all its forms.
Life is an ever-changing flow of happenings all around us: getting married, having children, breaking up, moving out, graduating, finding jobs, losing jobs, getting sick, dealing with an empty nest, having financial difficulties, losing someone you love. Happy or sad, these changes are a big part of life and can often trigger a negative stress response.
How does one cope with life transitions that trigger stress? Here are a few tips:
1. Practice self-compassion.
Self-compassion is learning to treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend when they are suffering in some way. It does not solve the issues at hand but it shifts the functioning of your brain.
Intentionally practicing positive, elevated emotions — such as compassion, gratitude, awe, generosity, joy, serenity and love – puts you in touch with your innate resilience.
With time, seeing that these practices help you navigate the turns and twists of life, you will learn to rely on them more and more. Being kinder and gentler with yourself will become natural to you.
During times of need, use this simple technique: put your hand on your heart and offer yourself comfort and assurance that all will work out for your highest good. Because it always does.
2. Be mindful and observant.
Notice that change is happening and you are a part of it.
Seeing your role in the evolving events helps you to become an active participant in your life. Don’t run or hide from it, but rather notice the feelings and emotions that arise. As you consciously observe and pause, you practice non-reaction which is empowering and gives you time to form your response if one is needed at that time.
Journaling is a great way to gain insight into your feelings.
How do you feel about the change? It is not easy to accept it when you feel that the change is somehow imposed on you and beyond your control. Gaining awareness about your fears and worries gives you the power to overcome them. This is your work.
A Course In Miracles says, “I am not a victim of the world I see.” Remember, you are not.