How do you feel about change?
Does it make you anxious? Nervous? Uncomfortable?
Do you tend to want things to stay the same?
Think about how you might feel if your favorite shampoo was discontinued, your favorite grocery shop closed, or someone took “your spot” in a gym or yoga class.
In this episode, I am talking about how to navigate change, growth, and transformation, and where grief fits into this process. We have to grieve the way things were to embrace how things are. This is true even when we experience changes we desire, like getting married, buying a home, or relocating for a dream job. We still need to mourn the loss of how our life used to be.
Prefer the audio? Listen here.
The inspiration for this episode came from a member’s question in my new community (TC’s VIPs – details here). After taking Boundary Boss Bootcamp and healing high-functioning codependency, she said, “I found myself in a sea of change that shifted my perception so deeply that most everything in my life changed. My relationship with myself, my work, and the people in my life all underwent a huge transformation. It’s all been so very good but there’s been some grief in it. I’m not the same person I was. I’m grateful I’ve become so confident and clear but a part of my identity had to die to claim this healthier self…
While I’m no longer in the grey area (and stunned by such revelations), I feel some loss. As I walk into my new life, it would be helpful to have some understanding of how this death and rebirth experience can be mindfully navigated.”
This question resonated with many other community members, and I hope this episode resonates with you as well.
What Does It Mean to Change?
Change means something was one way and now it is different. We experience many changes throughout our lives. As my teacher, friend, and soul brother, Davidji, would say, “The only thing we can ever count on is that everything is going to change.”
From growing up, leaving our family homes, potentially partnering, maybe having kids, reaching middle age, getting old, and then passing – this is the lifecycle.
When we are attached to things staying the same, change can be extremely threatening and painful.
Instead, we have to learn to honor change.
Honoring Change: A Personal Experience
My self-perception permanently changed after I was diagnosed with cancer in my early 30s.
I felt betrayed by my body. I was a vegetarian. I worked out all the time. I was healthy, or so I thought.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, it felt like some kind of cosmic joke. The possibility of cancer had never entered my mind because I was young and healthy.
I had to mourn the loss of my innocence and the loss of my ignorance. I thought I was invincible, but I had to face the truth: none of us are impervious to anything in life. Even though many of us try to prevent change to stay safe, anything can happen to us at any time.
My cancer experience was traumatic. My illusion of safety was ripped away and my healthcare was mismanaged. I won’t retell the story here (check out this blog for the details), but this double whammy meant I had to mourn enormous changes and endure surgery and treatment twice in six months.
Cancer didn’t just change my relationship with my health and my body. It also changed how I related to the medical community. I thought doctors knew better than me, which made me feel taken care of. But my cancer experience taught me my gut instinct is just as important as their medical training.
From then on, I vowed to steer clear of doctors who did not give a sh*t about what I thought and how I felt.
I also experienced growth. As one of my besties, Kris Carr would say, I won’t call cancer a ‘gift’ because I certainly would not give it to you, but I would not undo it. It changed the trajectory of my life. I valued life in a completely different way.
How Grief + Growth Are Intertwined
This growth process required me to grieve, too. I had to let myself be sad about losing the assumption I would always be healthy.
Grief is important because the changes we experience in life impact our identities, how we see ourselves, and how we interact with the world.
Likewise, the benefits of change and transformation impact our relationships, mental wellness, how we work, and how we walk through the world as we transform.
Many of you are on a transformative path where grief and growth are intertwined. There is always something to grieve at every level of your transformation.
In the guide, you will find questions to help you grieve the losses you have experienced.
Change involves grieving our old selves and what we left behind.
Sometimes, we might grieve specific stages of life. Anyone who has raised a child knows time goes quickly. One moment, you are stuck in the hell of potty training, and the next, your child is 18 and graduating high school. Oh my gosh, you think, how did we get here?
It is important to stay mindful and awake during these transformations and to honor the grief associated with them. Even when things turn out how you want them to.
What I Had to Mourn When I Met My Husband
When I found my husband, Vic, I was beyond happy.
But I was in my 30s, and he was in his 40s. I remember being sad he had done many things in life without me.
Vic had been married twice. I’d never been married before. He had three biological sons. I had no kids.
Bev, my therapist, astutely said, “Ter, you need to mourn how you thought this would happen for you.”
She asked me what I thought my life would look like.
“I thought I would marry someone around my age and maybe have a kid,” I answered.
Bev was right. I needed to mourn the way I thought things would unfold so I could be fully present to embrace the wonderful way it was.
At first, I felt guilty. I asked myself, What more do you want? You found this amazing guy you want to spend the rest of your life with. Isn’t that enough?
Bev helped me realize mourning the way I thought it would be did not make me ungrateful for what I had with Vic and the boys.
I also realized grieving and growth go together. I needed to grieve the fact I would never have Vic in his 20s or 30s, even though I wanted a longer life with him.
Through grieving, we become more accepting of change. Mourning does not mean we are ungrateful. It means we are processing. This helps us embrace new change and the opportunities it brings.
Dealing with change and growth is an important skill. I give you a bunch of ideas on how to healthily navigate transformation in the guide.
I am curious: what is your relationship with change and transformation? Are you good with it? Is it difficult for you? What have you learned from it?
If you found this episode helpful or think it might help someone, please share it with the people in your life.
Have an amazing week and as always, take care of you.