Change. One of the few things almost everyone agrees about is that change is the only truly unchanging reality in life. Change can be infinitesimally gradual, abruptly cataclysmic, or anything in between. What we usually recognize as change, the changes that really get our attention, are usually those that are rapid, symbolic, personally meaningful or permanently life-altering. These are the changes that rock our world, for better or for worse, and sometimes for both better and worse. After all, much of what we feel about change is inseparable from our personal filters and individual perspectives. Our judgments about change can work for us or against us in trying to have happy and productive lives.
Life is full of welcome and unwelcome changes, changes we have chosen and changes we did not choose. Even changes we welcome during one stage in our lives we may not welcome at another stage in our lives. For example, we may welcome birthdays until the age of 29, 39, 49 or 59 and at some point begin to dread our birthdays! Changes that represent a gain, addition, and expansion generally meet with our approval while changes that limit us, reduce our freedom or involve any type of loss usually generate resistance.
It is very natural and human to resist change, yet resisting change often makes life harder and leads to more unhappiness. Accepting and working with change are alternatives to resistance. For example, when a child matures into young adulthood and leaves home this is a change that we can either work with or resist. In fact, sometimes the war between acceptance and resistance takes place within our own skin—we both want our children to succeed as independent adults and dread not having them as a daily part of our lives.
Aging is one of the most obvious and frequently resisted forms of change that we deal with in our lives. A major focus of the Wise Women’s support group is for us to help one another accept and come to terms with the changes in our lives, many of which can be abrupt and life-altering. So here are a few questions to discuss:
1) What have been the most life-altering changes you have experienced during your lifetime? These can be either external/world events or personal events.
2) What is your overall attitude about change? Do you generally welcome change? Try to avoid it? Drag your heels kicking and screaming through changes in your life?
3) Have you ever experienced a change in your life that you thought was terrible at the time and later saw as ultimately positive or beneficial?
4) What types of changes are easiest for you to navigate? What types of changes are really difficult for you?
5) Give examples of times you have worked successfully with unwelcome changes in your life and been able to make peace with those changes.