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Navigating Change

I’ve always loved the wind.  I have vivid memories of times in my life when wind served as the background to changes that were happening in my life, when it seemed that the wind was carrying me, sometimes kicking and screaming, to a new way of being.  Humans have always had a connection to wind.  Wind brings storms and changes in the weather.  And throughout our history wind carried ships across oceans and suddenly there were new discoveries and change.

Change can be hard.  No matter what, even if we’re looking for something new, we can meet resistance.  And we can struggle.

Sometimes change happens quickly.  Or does it really?  I think of the way a baby develops over the first year or two of its life.  Today they can’t sit up yet.  And suddenly they can.  Today they are crawling all over the place and suddenly they stand up.  Did the change really happen suddenly or was there a lot going on before the change could happen?

I personally believe that change takes a long time but then when it happens it is sudden.  And in that before period, that period of uncertainty, things can feel pretty darn uncomfortable.  Unbearable sometimes.  Right before a baby achieves another milestone, like walking for instance, there is a period where they are so cranky and irritable that they seriously test your patience.  But then suddenly they achieve whatever they’ve been trying to do and they are gloriously happy and full of energy for a period of time … until they get close to the next milestone.

I see this growth in babies as an example of how growth happens for all of us.  If you look back over your life, you will probably see that times when you’ve really struggled, when you were filled with anxiety or depression or just plain exhaustion, there was a reason for it.  And afterward, when things changed in a positive way you had renewed energy for your life.  Whenever we are in a period of change, or when we need to make a change, when things are not working in our lives for one reason or another, the anxiety and depression come in to force us to stop and take a look.  It’s like they are there to get our attention when we’re in denial that something needs to change in our lives.

As uncomfortable as anxiety and depression can be, I believe they serve this purpose for us.  We as a species are generally very resistant to change.  Most of us like to be able to count on certain things happening in our lives, our routines, the people we see, our work schedule, etc.  We can go for long periods of time thinking things are okay and rationalizing dysfunction.  For some people this goes on for a lifetime.  But for some of us something starts to nag at us, starts to feel not okay.  We start to feel a sense of unease or discomfort about our life.  If we are lucky we pay attention at this point, but if we ignore how we feel the anxiety and depression can slowly creep in.

When we finally acknowledge that something in our life isn’t working, it can feel like things fall apart.  But just like a caterpillar in a chrysalis, where from the outside it looks like nothing is going on, on the inside the caterpillar is slowly making incredible, almost magical changes.  This is the period of the in between, the slowly gathering energy of change.  It is an important, often overlooked but necessary period that the caterpillar must go through in order to materialize its destiny as a butterfly.  And just like the caterpillar, there is no shortcut around this process for us.  In order to evolve and become what we are meant to become, in order to live our lives fully, sometimes we have to allow ourselves to be in this in-between.  It is the preparation for the sudden change.

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I’m Inge

Inge Gisela Bundchen is the owner and sole practitioner of Serenity Psychiatric Health.

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