Mca blog

Coping With Change

Change can be tough. Most of us are creatures of habit, and in many ways, the older we get the more so we become. Change can come in good or bad guise, but often its not the event itself so much as our response to the change that causes us pain.

The fact is that good things will end, bad things will happen, and there won’t always be a “reason” or a positive outcome. And that’s just how it is. The longer we live, the more likely it is that we will experience change we don’t like or want. The longer we live, the higher the probability of experiencing unhappiness, grief, pain, loss and other negative emotions.

Although I think of myself as an optimist, I don’t think we always need to (or even should) put a positive spin on things. Not everything happens for a reason. Some things just happen. And when they do, it’s important to recognise and acknowledge our disappointment or pain, and to be kind to ourself.

If a dear friend moves far away, or if changes in the economic climate affects one financially, or if a loved one passes on, it’s normal and human to experience the emotions of grief, loss, even anger. But how long you feel this way will depend on your perspective.

One of the definitions of Mindfulness is non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. In this context, what that means is recognising your resistance to such changes. Whenever I say “I don’t want it to be like this” I’m clinging to a non-reality. I may want it to be different but the truth is that it’s not. The wanting it to be different is based on fiction, and the fact is that right now this unpleasantness is happening. The moment I accept this I have become non-judgmental in my awareness of that present moment experience.

This may sound a bit tricky, but acknowledging and accepting your resistance to life’s changes is critical. It’s this acceptance that helps to remove the pain, because more pain comes from the resistance than from the event itself. Listen to your self-talk. If you hear yourself say “if only” or “I wish” or “it shouldn’t have” then you know you’re trying to create a fictitious world. No amount of “wishing” or “should’ing” will change the reality of what is, pleasant or not.

We all know people who can’t get over something bad that happened to them or that someone did to them long ago. Mostly the incident and its repercussions have long passed. Sometimes the incident itself was all in the perception of that person. But the person won’t let go of their anger and resentment. They need to blame someone for what was.

Non-judgmental acceptance is healing. It acknowledges the reality of what is and lets go of the fiction of what might have been. And the reality is that wishing things were different or that someone had behaved differently is like an archer shooting an arrow into his own heart – only he will suffer.

Embracing change doesn’t mean that we always have to be happy about it. It means you’ve acknowledged your human reaction to unpleasantness and then chosen a more self-compassionate response which includes kindness to yourself and to your pain, and letting go of wanting it to be different, if it will never be. That’s not giving up, it’s choosing a wiser, more mindful and self-compassionate response.

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