14 Jul 2012

The Times They Are a Changin’…. Thoughts from Recent ” Change” Intensive group work

"The change group helped me understand how I felt about and reacted to change. Doing a deep dive into this topic helped me understand a lifetime of thoughts and behaviors I've had around change - things I never could understand or explain before. After the sessions, I now feel like I can handle change in a much different way. I think it opened several doors for me to be more comfortable with changes in my life. "

"Change" group intensive member

We are changing and evolving constantly...perhaps these changes are the only predictable happenings of life! Our growing up, our transitioning, our ever evolving thoughts and passions with our work and our creative minds; our  journeys in relationships and how they begin and end and all the feelings that surge in us as we ride these waves over and over again.

Sometimes change feels like it is happening "to" us and sometimes we choose, we make decisions. Sometimes change creeps up on us before we know it.. and we look around or look inside and see something we never knew before.... or we stay tethered to the past or hanging on our agenda for the future.

In recent 4 week workshops on this topic of change, we all did some deep inquiry and looking into ourselves..Below are a few of the questions that were sent between sessions to members to write about and share.

These Change Warriors covered some important ground and dug deep together!

Working with focus.. and joy!!

 How invested are you in change? Where are you the most invested in change at this time of your life?

- Generally, I am not that invested in change because I don't like the way it feels, however, right now, I feel that I have an opportunity to change the way I live my life, the way I feel about myself, and the way I treat myself. I am the most invested change in self-growth right now. I want to know myself and live a life that is true to my core.

- I am working hard to change my negative thought patterns and be as mindful as I can be. I want to experience where I am in life now, while at the same time striving to improve my relationships and my career. I want to change my work into something that is more energizing and creative and satisfying and I am taking small but consistent steps to make that happen. I am trying to build a strong, healthy relationship with my boyfriend, my close friends and family and be less judgmental of those relationships and more accepting of what they are, not focusing on what I think they should be.

- What elements of experiences of change in your childhood have you brought with you to current life an experiences? i.e.: how you handle change, how it happens, how it feels... You can give an example if you want..

Oh, boy! I often feel like my childhood is attached to me like saran wrap. It's so clingy and I cant break free of the memories (good and bad), the feelings, or the expectations (that things will play out a certain way even though the people (my family) and the situations that I am experiencing now as an adult are new.
When making changes or decisions, how do you know they are either impulsive or reactive...or mindful.. What feelings or signals tell you?

- When I am impulsive or reactive, which is the norm, I feel constant, unbearable anxiety. The few times that i have made mindful changes, I have felt a confident peace in the before, during, and aftermath of the change.

Is one of the reasons we may all fear change because it always involves some kind of loss? And if so, what's your understanding or your questions about that?

- I think that makes a lot of sense. Changing often involves saying goodbye to situations, people, habits, states of mind, homes, friends, jobs, expectations etc...and I think that's really scary to lose anything especially when you've integrated it into your life for a certain amount of time. And that probably ties into our discussion of identity, because maybe we take all of these things and make them a part of our identity, so when it comes time to change one of them we feel like we are losing a part of our identity. And that can be very scary. But parts of our identity seem to always shifting (if we looks back over the years) and identity is not solid or static at all so thinking of it in that way can maybe make the loss less scary.

" Letting Go".. We talked a lot about it. How does loss shape us? Can we really learn from it? Answer just as yourself.. no wise answer expected....

In college, I spoke at a retreat called "Escapes" and i had to select a song that went along with my speech. i selected Let Go by Frou Frou. i copied all the lyrics here but really the bold part is what i liked about it. this song is the first thing i thought of.

(So let go) so let go
Jump in
Oh well whatcha waiting for
It's all right
'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown
(So let go) let go
Just get in
Oh it's so amazing here
It's all right
'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown

The other thing I thought of is this wood sign i bought from an online sample sale: "When she finally learned how to let go of the things that didn't matter, she discovered all the things that really did. just breathe"

I keep it at my desk because I always have trouble letting go. i hold on to things, emotions and expectations especially. and the song and the sign help me to shake that.

- I think if you have experienced loss, then it has shaped you in some way. People react differently to loss due to many different factors, but I think in the instance of a loss, we are presented with a fork in the road...do we put our walls up to numb some of the pain from the loss, while also shutting out some of our growth opportunities, or do we remain completely open, taking in all the pain and all the growth that comes with each loss? Personally, I know that up until this point in my life, I have always put up the walls, so I think that loss has shaped me by contributing more walls, or building my walls thicker. However, I know that we really can learn from loss. For me, I've learned the most about myself from situations in which I've lost things. It took me a very long time to learn from my losses, and I know that I still haven't learned all i can from some losses.

- How has this group experience helped you to open your heart?

- This group has helped me to explore my attitudes and fears about change. It has forced me to think of change as an essential part of life at all ages. The idea of life being an up and down ride struck me hard. While it may seem obvious, I am constantly judging my life against an impossible upward continuum.

- What other things day to day can help us to be opening our hearts?

- Letting go of attachment to expectations. Entering the day with the idea that many different outcomes can occur and there are more possibilities than the singular outcome I tend to have in mind. Knowing that feelings of pleasure and pain diminish and return...nothing is permanent.

- When I came to the group, I think I thought that the big change I was having to deal with was my new job. That is still a change, and still one I'm getting used to, but I think the subtler, but ultimately bigger change I'm coming to terms with is what I mentioned about the feeling of coming into being an adult, and the smaller and bigger re-orientations toward life and what I want from it that have been changing for me over the past couple of years

- Because of the accepting nature of the group and the clearly explorative nature of our talks, it really helped to know that it wasn't about figuring anything out or being "right," but about opening. Sometimes, that's all it takes, I think; being given permission to be open and honest. Because I am 30 years older than most of the group, it was great to see how much all of our struggles and joys stay the same, and how much they change. And it was an excellent reminder that this change will take place just as I'm getting used to a new me or new situation, another will come along... And it is all part of the dance and I CAN"T take myself too seriously or worry about what seems scary 'cause it could all be different tomorrow..

Thank you Everyone!

Watch for new groups forming in the fall and for new online workshops, as well as continued Skype work with individuals!

Susan Lambert, LCSW

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