Is it time to let go?

By Sam Stone

Caterpillar into Butterfly‘Who are you?’ said the caterpillar….

‘I – I hardly know, Sir, just at present’ Alice replied rather shyly, ‘at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then’.

Lewis Carrol, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Making sense of change isn’t always easy. Whether you are becoming a new mom, starting a new job or simply experiencing some sort of restructuring in your life – these can be times full of excitement, mystery and adventure; promising many benefits, but as we know, they can also be stressful.

Few people relish in change. I hit a bump in the road when a relationship that I was in came to an end but I wasn’t ready to let go. My inability to move on was unpleasant and the situation tortured me for many years. I looked for new solutions all the time as there must be some way I could get things back on track. I was stuck in a rut and brilliant at wall papering over the cracks, telling myself ‘it’s no big deal, everything’s alright really’, but then anger would rise up in me as my own truths crept in. Numerous times, I sizzled into despair to start the cycle all over again by denying my lived reality. The thing that I missed on so many occasions was acceptance of an ending. Acceptance that, yes, I will miss this and I don’t like the new situation but I will give it a shot anyway.

It’s so important to remember that we are not our mistakes, they are just things that happen.

Finally, I did learn how to navigate my way through an ending to a beginning. These years were not wasted by any stretch of the imagination as I learnt so much about myself. It brought so many positive things into my life and for that I’m thankful. It’s so important to remember that we are not our mistakes, they are just things that happen. It’s how we handle those things that makes a difference to our lives and what we learn from them. When I was ready to accept a new future, it actually happened and I’m really happy with my new partner.

People can often feel uncomfortable with change, reluctant to let go of what they know. It’s important to recognise that these feelings are a really healthy reaction to losing our future as we know it now. William Bridges talks about change being a shift in the world around us, and a transition being the inner process through which people come to terms with that change. Most people don’t resist the change, they resist the transition and letting go of the way things used to be, instead of re-orientating themselves to the way that things are now. It could mean re-establishing your identities but it is also a wonderful opportunity for growth.

You can’t accept any new ideas until you have accepted the endings of the old ones, and all of the emotions that go along with them.

The best way to get through these unsettling times is to be kind to yourself, taking time for self-reflection. You can’t accept any new ideas until you have accepted the endings of the old ones, and all of the emotions that go along with them. Take time to understand how you are feeling and that our present turmoil is the result of the process and not necessarily a sign that we have made a wrong decision. When playing rounders, you can’t get to second base while still keeping a foot in first! When you are ready, be active in planning your assault on the new challenge. Decide what your change will look like? What are the purposes for your efforts? Where is it that you are going? And how will you know when you get thereFinding people who you can really talk to; whether it’s a trusted friend or close family member, being able to share how you’re really feeling can be a tremendous source of strength for you. Look for the continuities in your life that you are keeping, as it may help you to feel more in control. Taking time to reflect and prepare for your next phase of life will help you live more fully and with purpose. Remember the one thing that a beginning must have, is an ending.

Illustration: Jen Howarth

Photo: Chris Lennox

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