Ever heard the that there are 2 things in life you cannot escape, death and taxes, well there is a 3rd - change.
I don’t know about you, but I left to go on leave last year with my batteries running on empty, hoping that returning in the New Year I would feel invigorated, topped up and rearing to go to embrace whatever life threw at me…like the 500+ emails in my inbox on my return. Queue “heavy sigh”.
Unfortunately this year it was different. I came back almost more tired than when I left, like a phone battery that drains so quickly you feel like it might as well be permanently connected to the charger.
So, I was trying to figure out what was the difference? Surprisingly, it’s something that is a constant in our lives - change.
The past 6 or so months has been a rollercoaster for me as it brought a series of dramatic changes both personally and professionally.
Ever heard the saying: that there are 2 things in life you cannot escape, death and taxes, well there is a third - change.
Now change follows us wherever we go, we cannot get away from it, but I dug a little deeper. I did some introspection and realised that most people can easily deal with change, we do so almost without blinking an eye – meetings get rescheduled, suddenly you have to divert to a different route for traffic, your child’s timetable changes, your partner finds a new job, the yearly increases in our living expenses: DSTV, levies, etc. And what about the change you know is coming? Our age…etc.
Where things start getting a little hairy with me is when I am uncertain about the change or the outcome of that change. I don’t know about you but I can sometimes spend hours ruminating over all the possibilities of what might or might not happen, what decisions I should make, when is the right time to make them, until eventually it’s like a puppy chasing its own tail. The thoughts just whirl and whirl around in my head, and I look over at the clock and its 2am in the morning, berating myself for not trying to get some sleep before the alarm goes off at 5!
In December, I was given a gift. The same book 3 times by 3 exceptional women who are mentors to me in different ways. The book is called the “Book of Joy”. Clearly this book was meant for me and it arrived at the right time. Although uncertainty is not dealt with specifically in the book I feel it is in uncertain times that focusing more on joy can help us through it.
I by no means have all the answers but I’d like to share some insights I have found on my own emotional journey through change and uncertainty:
“ this too shall pass”. - Dad
1. Know that you are not alone. No matter what, more than likely if you had to share the feelings you are going through there would be someone who would understand, either what you are going through or at the very least be able to empathise with the emotional journey you are taking, and if not, by opening up and sharing your authentic self, by being vulnerable, you are allowing others to feel safe to do the same.
2. Acceptance. There is a quote used by the Dalai Lama roughly translated from a Shantideva’s famous question: “Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied? And what is the use of being unhappy if it cannot be remedied?” Relax, breathe in and out and know that if we are able to see life through a wider lense, and with humility, we can take our first steps toward accepting our lives in all its pain, perfect imperfection and beauty. This brings us squarely to point 3.
3. Determine what you can and what you cannot control. As much as I hate to admit it, feeling in control makes me feel at ease. And I’m not talking about micro-managing every aspect of my or any other person’s life, but understanding what I can affect makes me feel better. So ask yourself: “What are the factors that you can control and what are the factors that you can’t control, but which you can influence through.” If there is something you cannot control, let it go.
4. This too shall pass. I was an exceptionally emotional teenager. Although my husband will tell you nothing much has changed!!! I’ll blame it on my heritage. But what used to make me feel a whole lot better was when my dad would tell me “this too shall pass”. It might seem like we will be here forever, in this dark tumultuous place…but we won’t… and just knowing that this too shall pass makes me feel peaceful.
Ironic isn’t it, that helping to deal with change, is change itself. Life indeed is mysterious.
“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, others build windmills” – Chinese proverb.