I often write about change because as much as we know about it – at work, at home, in health, in personal or professional life – we honestly still struggle much of the time with it. Change creates uncertainty and can lead to fear, even when the change is something we want.
Today, I want to discuss a different approach to change. I’m going to discuss what I call a compassionate approach to change. Before I get into that, I want to make one thing clear – the first rule of change is that it’s already happening, you can’t stop it, and it has an energy all its own. That said, read on and discover.
Everyone has something they want to change about themselves or their lives. Whatever your specific reason to change or whatever you’re looking for, we all know what that feels like. We all know what it’s like to feel stuck or feel uncertain about what’s next. And at those times we can judge ourselves harshly and actually prevent ourselves from reaching those goals or making the changes we desire.
We are impatient. We like instant gratification, but often change takes time. The speed of life has made this more apparent than ever. We want it now! And when we don’t get it fast enough, we get upset – with others, with ourselves, and with life in general.
There are 3 qualities that we need to bring to our actions to support the process of change. The first one is the willingness and courage to go beyond our comfort zone. When we begin to feel the anxiety, discomfort, or self doubt of trying something new, we need to become willing to stay with those feelings and engage with what we’re experiencing as a primary source that will allow us to direct change.
We must also bring to our actions the quality of self-awareness; not only of what we’re doing, but of our inner experiences. Self-awareness helps us understand our own motivations, and helps us see how we can get stuck in the mental traps and emotional habits that prevent us from taking the actions we need to take.
Finally, we need to bring to our actions a sense of surrender. I realize that word can be polarizing. In this context, it’s not meant as “I surrender! I give up!” It’s surrender in the realization that even though we must act and we must engage with change as it is happening, we must also appreciate the fact that we cannot always control it.
How do you usually relate to change? We often feel stuck in our old habits, and our familiar situations, and we fear that it might not be possible to change. We may want to change, but may give up as soon as we encounter resistance or setbacks. We may try to control what is uncontrollable, rather than looking at what it is that we can do to positively transform our experience.
We need to rethink how we relate to change. Here are some things to consider as you examine your own resistance to change.
The opposite of willingness and courage is resistance and fear. We tend to resist the change even when we know it will bring us closer to what we want and help us become the best version of ourselves. As we consider the change we’re focusing on, depending on what that is, it may in fact feel as though a part of us must “die” in order for this new change to take place. That perspective sees change from a place of scarcity, which generates more anxiety and fear which leads to resistance.
The counter to self-awareness is running on autopilot. When we react from our past experiences and emotions, we are simply engaging in a pattern that keeps us stuck and prevents us from accessing a higher level of awareness.
Finally, the antithesis of surrender is control. Oh, how we love to be in control of everything! But something happens when we give in to the realization that the only thing we can control is our response to the world around us. When we attempt to control change, we are in effect saying that unless things turn out exactly as we picture them in our mind, then it’s not right. But how often have you set a goal or intention, only to have things turn out better than you expected? Control takes away that option, and attempts to force things to fit our mold.
Look at any area of your life or leadership where you are working on change and meeting resistance. See it through the lens of compassionate change, and ask yourself if you are cultivating these three approaches. I think you’ll find that when you do, change may not be any easier, but it will absolutely be more productive and fulfilling in the long run.
Let me know how these three qualities impact you. Leave a comment below or send me an email. I love hearing from you, sharing your experiences, and learning how to better serve this community of leaders.
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Kevin Ciccotti, Human Factor Formula
Helping companies create sustainable, effective teams that are committed to the success of their projects, the organization, and the individuals with whom they work