Growing Through Change
by Jacquelyn Strickland
Do you ever think about the collective unconscious, (...or... insert your own word here) Spirit, God, the Universe, or a Divine Grace? Do you ever wonder how or if it might be working in your life or those you know? I ask this question because it certainly seems like a multitude of invisible forces have been at work during the last several months, creating both wanted and unwanted change.
Since late spring, I've observed that many of the people I have had the privilege of connecting with, either personally or professionally, have been challenged by or presented with some major type of change, unexpected growth or transition. Is that true for you as well?
For some, this change has arrived filled with anticipated hopes and dreams which are manifesting. Each year at this time in Ft. Collins, our city is inundated with about 20,000 returning college students. There is an excitement in the air, and it is enjoyable to see the young, fresh faces, eager to explore their new life away from home.
For others, myself included, an unsettling experience can leave us feeling confused and vulnerable, almost like being reluctantly pulled along an uncertain current of spiritual growth or transition. This can feel like an emotional roller coaster, from which you want to depart! For me, it was a very real and unexpected dream which seemed to heighten all my senses connecting me with sudden feelings of love, connection and gratitude, of which I am just beginning to understand.
I've also encountered those who are resisting change altogether by struggling to hold onto the past - whether outdated things, relationships, people or places. This usually arises from unfounded F-E-A-R(s) - (false evidence appearing real) or from years of accepting the status quo which no longer serves them.
And of course, there is the type of change that one contemplates for quite some time, and takes appropriate action to make it happen. This is probably the most comfortable type of change, even if a bit challenging, because it is something you have chosen for yourself and at least some of its potential rewards are known to you.
Planned, Disruptive or Spiritual Growth?
Is it planned change that you have initiated or look forward to? Is it an unexpected change that you didn't choose such as major changes in your employment, divorce, death, or illness? Or, is it a spiritual type of experience that has challenged you to grow outside your comfort zone?
Of course, not all change is unpleasant, especially if initiated and planned for in a thoughtful way. In this case, planned change can:
- be motivating and energizing, giving us something new to discover and look forward to
- promote our spiritual and/or psychological growth
- generate resourcefulness and creativity
- increase our physical energy levels
Suggestion: Be sure to celebrate your successes! Create small rituals that will provide special memories for this time in your life.
Disruptive change, on the other hand, is change that we do not seek out. It is usually change that is unexpected, and often feels like it is being thrust upon us and that we have no choices. This type of change can:
- inhibit growth, leaving one feeling stuck, confused or debilitated
- create a sense of perceived helplessness
- increase tendencies toward anxiety and depression
- leave us feeling isolated, misunderstood or lonely
Suggestion: Find a trusted friend or professional with whom you can thoroughly process your experience. Unresolved anger, grief and/or loss issues can arise much later or prohibit our growth in ways we least expect. Try to remember, "doing your best is always good enough."
Spiritual Growth or Change
A spiritual growth experience can sometimes be similar to peak experiences, though not always. Even if this experience is a positive one, it can be unsettling nevertheless. You might notice:
- a deeper understanding of past events
- a new found sense of freedom either through heightened self-discovery, healing, or forgiveness
- feelings of confusion, excitement, fear or wonder -- which can be combined with feelings of love, connection and wholeness
- an intensified sense of awareness of the beauty of things around you -
(Do you ever find yourself trying to capture the fly, bee or insect in your home to put it outside rather than kill it? :))
Suggestion: Bringing spiritual experiences into a present day reality is sometimes confusing and difficult. Giving full self-expression to your many thoughts and feelings can help you to feel more grounded and provide ways to integrate insights into your daily life. Again, it is always appropriate to ask for help if you need support.
Almost all types of change, whether positive or negative, can be stressful for HSPs. We can easily become overwhelmed by our emotions, leading us into a downward spiral if we aren't aware of how we react to change. For the future, it might be helpful in dealing with change if you take a moment to become aware of your answers to the following:
"When faced with (planned change), (disruptive change) or a (spiritual growth experience) the (positive) and (negative) emotions, thoughts or behaviors I am likely to experience are ..........."
Before deciding to act upon any change experiences, try answering these insightful questions from Debbie Ford in her book, The Right Questions :
- Will this choice be empowering or disempowering?
- Is this decision based on faith or fear?
- Am I standing in my own power, or am I trying to please someone else?
- Is this decision for my long-term fulfillment or my short term gratification?
The Highly Sensitive Person and Change
Regardless of what type of change or transition you may have experienced lately, we know that change for HSPs always presents many over-stimulating challenges. I think this is because most people see things as black, white and a bit gray. We HSPs, 15-20% of the population, rarely see things in this way. Instead we see and feel things on many levels, from many perspectives, with innumerable shades of grey. So when change does come along, we can literally tire ourselves out by processing the many different colors, shades, and hues of situations that our keen sense of intuition and deep perception present to us.
So, what's an HSP to do?
After identifying which type of change you might be experiencing, here are a few other suggestions for coping:
- Self-Care: Be sure to allow for extra sleep, long baths, time spent alone in nature
- Be very gentle and patient with yourself, realizing it is a process you are not in control of
- Observe and honor your emotions as they arise
- Become aware of the many parts of yourself that are most affected and identify these parts as accurately as possible
- Are there parts of you which feel vulnerable? Angry? Confused? Unheard? Give them a voice by writing.
- Try to determine if the feelings are current or are arising from previously similar or unresolved experiences?
Quotes to Contemplate for Growing Through Change
Another way to use change as an opportunity for growth and healing is to find and contemplate several of your favorite quotes. Here are a few of mine that I have found supportive most recently. I hope they might assist you through either the pleasant or unpleasant process of change.
Caretake this moment.
Immerse yourself in its particulars.
Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed.
Quit the evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble.
It's time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.
"You need to test the waters.
You stop short of testing the waters.
Follow your hunches and see where they lead.
If something goes amiss, then you adjust your course
and your intuition adjusts accordingly.
There is no easy way.
Keep your thoughts from spiraling down,
and follow those hunches that embody life-give energy.
Be still and feel the presence of Being leading you on.
Make your intentions pure and seek action that leads to right consequences.
There are no mistakes if you learn from all you do."
-From a very wise client, F. Nichols
Each emotion is a message for you, a signal from your soul.
When you look at your emotions as obstacles, or experiences
that you would rather have, or not have, you miss the point.
The point is that every emotion offers information about you that is important.
When you ignore your emotions, you ignore this information.
- Gary Zukav
It is easy to be seduced by the idea that how things turn
out is more important than what happens in the process.
Manifestations, as desirable as they are,
are by-products of the soul qualities that are developed in quest of the goal.
The real question is not "How did it turn out?"
The question is, "What happened to your spirit as you journeyed?"
"The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating.
The paths are not to be found, but made.
And the activity of making them
changes both the maker and their destination."
- John Schaar, a sociologist and professor emeritus at the
University of California Santa Cruz
Love is the acceptance of the experiences in our life.
Power is the moving through them.
Wisdom is the result.
Interested in Further Spiritual Exploration into your Own Process of Change?
In her book, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace, Cheryl Richardson defines grace as "a benevolent force of energy that comes from a divine source." I highly recommend her 6 CD set called "Experience the Power of Grace." I think her message is deeply important and relevant for our times, both individually and collectively. You may purchase it here: http://www.cherylrichardson.com/store/gracecd.htm
You are invited to share your comments, responses, or personal experiences with change in the Blog for Change included here.