“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ~ Alan Watt
1. Accept responsibility for your own change or healing process.
The most common definition of the word responsibility is “the quality or state of being responsible” and sometimes this is seen as a burden. I had an Aha moment with this word when I attended a college psychology class with a friend. Oddly, I had dropped out of school at the time but while visiting went to class and heard his professor define responsibility as “the ability to respond”. I can’t even tell the exact nature of that lecture or the class overall, but hearing those words impacted in a way that has shaped my life.
Interestingly, part of the reason I had dropped out of school at that time was because I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and some of the symptoms such as fatigue and severe muscle pain caused me to be unable to attend classes consistently. At the time, Fibromyalgia was a relatively new diagnosis and there weren’t a lot of treatment options available. I learned quickly that if I were to regain my health and return to college, I needed to take “responsibility” for my own healing process.
Having that alternative definition of responsibility opened a door of possibilities for me as I began to explore holistic and alternative modalities so that I could become better able to respond to what I was experiencing and create change in my life. “Being able to respond” is a core concept in my personal work and in the work I share with others and I view it is a key to becoming your own change age
2. Be curious and open to exploration.
As I began to explore alternative and holistic modalities, I began to learn and grow in ways I never imagined. Carrying a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia for a young aspiring 20 something seemed like a burden, even a curse at times, and yet, this burden, led me to a path of self-exploration and discovery that defines who I am today. This burden ended up being one of greatest blessings in my life and has led me to a life path I feel passionate about.
Some of the tools I explored were very beneficial, others not so much, but either way, I was building my toolbox and getting to know myself on a much deeper level in the process. We don’t know what will help us in creating change until we try it and what works for one person may not work for another. Being open and curious is such an important part of any change process. In meditation and other spiritual practices, it is often suggested to come to it with a Beginner’s Mind. This is a great way to approach life and change as well. When we come to our explorations with this type of openness, new possibilities emerge that we may not have been able to see if we hold the “I already know” paradigm.
3. Track your experiences and build your personal transformational toolbox.
By now you are probably getting tired of me talking about the importance of journaling as a transformational tool, but without somehow tracking your experiences, it is difficult to truly identify what is working and what is not working in your change process. Also, one of the keys to becoming your own change agent is to build a transformational toolbox that can support you in the changes you are currently making and in future changes. Having some type of journal, log, and list becomes your personal guide to change. And, no one can truly write this book but you. In Five Steps To Mastering Anxiety, I share an example of some ways to track your experience and begin to build your toolbox that may offer some ideas to explore.
4. Be willing to be uncomfortable and roll with the resistance.
This is a step that most of us don’t like and it is often where we tend lost our steam in the change process. Being willing to roll with the resistance that arises as we initiate change is a vital component of any transformational process. If we approach change with some of the above steps, we can be more conscious of our resistance and awareness as it is arising and this s a key to working with it. Also, often doing some deeper work, such as an inner child process, can help to create safety and security within, which is often where our fear of change arises. Developing practices that support being present with what is arising, such as meditation, can help. Also, be sure to develop a good support system and use it
5. Recognize the need to continually adapt.
In the words of Greek philosopher Heraclitus,
“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change.”
We are constantly changing, as is our world. Our cells our changing, our relationships are changing, nature is changing and yet, we somehow long for things to stay the same. This is where much of our suffering arises. By acknowledging that we are always changing and that we will continue to change and by recognizing that as a result, we need to continually adapt, we truly become agents of change.
At times, it may feel like we need the majority of people to change for our world to change, however I feel much like Margaret Mead,
“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Each step we take toward change in our personal lives and in our relationships creates the potential for transformation to occur in a greater way in our world as we are all connected through the beautiful, amazing web of life.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and reflections and most of all, enjoy the journey!