Change – an opportunity to create a new norm?

Have you experienced a radical change in your life recently?

Well I have.

Is it scary and disorienting?

Hell yes! My internal GPS temporarily stopped functioning. I felt completely lost. It tested everything I thought I knew to the limit. There were times when I questioned whether after eighteen years of coaching, I knew anything.

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There are many reasons for this.

Radical change can completely destroy our sense of safety.

Generally speaking, things that are familiar are likely to be safer than things that are not. After all, if something is familiar, we have evidence that we’ve survived it. Over time we’ve built a reality and comfortable rituals around it. A familiar situation has had time to gather momentum. We feel safe, significant, and supported. We can operate with confidence; pretty much on autopilot.

But when a hurricane of change blows us into completely unfamiliar territory, we’re afraid we can never recapture this sense of safety and comfort. Anticipation is a powerful state, but when you’re shocked and disoriented, this anticipation tends to be negative. We expect the worst, and this anxiety blocks our brain’s ability to find solutions and be creative; just when we need it most.

Initial fear or dislike is natural. It takes several exposures to develop a liking for unfamiliar things. You have to focus relentlessly on positive anticipation; on new opportunities, on what is right and where you’re making progress – even if its daunting and progress seems painfully slow.

Reclaiming and maintaining a sense of safety by doing the unfamiliar until it becomes my new norm has been the key for me.  

That feeling that everything is out of control can be terrifying at first, but accepting it is such a wonderful respite from the impossible task of trying to control the uncontrollable. The realization that I can choose to feel good even when there is so much that is out of my control is evidence that I am on the right track.

And that of course is the one thing we always have complete control over – how we choose to feel right now, regardless of where we are, who we’re with, what we’re doing, or where we are going.

It’s what restores confidence in our ability to adapt and create a new norm.


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