How to positively experience change
In our lives change is a given. It is not always easy to accept it and to live with its consequences. Actually, we often respond with some resistance to it as a result of the fear that we feel and the basic illusion that we can control everything around us. This need to maintain control on our life can become extreme, starting to feel as a cage we can't escape from.
What we could do then, to change our perspective?
To experience this shift in mind-set as a real corrective emotional experience (Alexander & French of the 1946), let’s follow a different logic.
The Eastern philosophers teach us 'to learn how to straighten something we must learn, first, all the ways to twist it'. In other words you could see it as 'how to worsen' - this is one of the key techniques of brief strategic therapy.
Going back to our scenario of change, a sure way to worsen the situation would be to follow the need of control-produced by fear - increasing it, hanging on to it, finding ourselves, soon, even more paralyzed. Rejecting change or acting as if it isn't happening is a practical example of this.
Another possible way to make the situation worse than before, when we’re in front of huge, complex changes (moving to another city or deciding to have a child) would be to contemplate the change in its entirety, in its majesty, increasing, as a result, the sense of anxiety or even panic. In a situation of this kind it would be more useful, contrarily, to divide the great change in small little steps to reach; simple, actionable tasks, each one to be resolved, one after the other, getting closer to the final goal.
We could lose ourselves in past memories, into annoying negative emotions as grudges or regrets: they are signals that we are going against the current, using our energy in a dysfunctional, wasteful, way.
Have you ever asked yourself 'What is the worst that can happen?'. The strategic therapy leads us to understand how to tame emotions and make the negative ones less dreadful. We could feel destabilised from their force at times but still, little by little, they would eventually seem less powerful and scary. In the meantime, while we're in the middle of the flow, we could contain the excess of our emotions through appropriate outlets, such as writing.
Finally, another way to worsen the situation of change is focusing only on the future. Filling our mind of expectations we lose the chance to fully live the present, as real explorers. Only looking around us we could pick up the necessary information to gain knowledge.
Once we've found every possible way to worsen the situation we can then turn them into positive strategies.
Accepting change as the essence of life, we can allow it once and for all, ceasing all active resistances to it. When we feel the worst has passed we can take mental pins of what has helped us through the process: what can you bring with you as a tool for future adaptations?
Another positive perspective will be to focus on the potential of improvement hidden in any experience of change. Without labelling immediately a situation as positive or negative, wait to see all of its effects. Widening our horizons means to give ourselves some new opportunities of knowledge, making us more and more flexible. Flexibility is synonymous of resistance: only what’s stiff will eventually break.
Learning to follow the flow of life is essential to find our internal harmony. Considering change as a challenge more than a limit.