How to Handle Constant Change
Heraclitus, the pre-Socractic Greek philosopher, said that “change is the only constant in life," a statement you've likely heard, in some iteration, at some point in your life. Probably, when you were experiencing a major life change.
"Change is the only constant in life" has become my inadvertent motto the last few months. I broke off a long-term (though very toxic) relationship. We had moved across the country together, and I was suddenly, harshly, alone in a place where I knew no one well but everyone tangentially. On top of that, I needed to find a roommate, ASAP. (I did, and she is lovely, we just resigned a lease together).
I began spending time with an amazing man who made me laugh, who was kind, and who was entirely delightful in every way. Then, he quietly disappeared to take care of upheaval in other parts of his life. I was confused and hurt, but the issue wasn't me. I wish I could bottle this up and throw it onto every cell phone screen in America: You are not to blame for the actions of others. Whatever caused someone to hurt you is a them thing, not a you thing.
At the same time that this semi-breakup occurred, my apartment complex told me I had to move out of my unit so it could be renovated. I was torn between finding somewhere entirely new to live, moving to another unit and paying more, finding someone new to live with, leaving California altogether, et cetera. Nothing in my life felt certain. I walked into work one day, and said to a co-worker, "This job is the only stable thing in my life right now." (An added bonus is that I adore my job, and love the company I work for). Then, I learned the organization was making changes that could potentially affect my job, and suddenly, the one stable thing I could grasp was entirely uncertain.
Change is the only constant, but we don't often realize or embrace this until we're in the middle of some huge shifts. Below are five lessons to help you through uncertain times, which are, all the time. Thank me later.
Worrying about the future doesn't change anything.
The man I thought I would marry is gone? Okay, change is the only constant. And, I'm more than okay without a man. The job I love might be gone? Okay, I can find another. I am a smart, strong, capable adult human. Jobs are not meant to last a lifetime, and relationships often don't last a lifetime either. Worrying about what might happen is the root of anxiety. Longing for the past is the root of dissatisfaction. It's incredibly difficult to live in the moment, but the current moment, right now, is all that really matters.
Take Charge of Your Life
Don't let other people or circumstances affect your happiness. Nothing feels more powerless than relinquishing control of your own life. People who don't take charge of their own lives are often bitter and unhappy, and want you to be bitter and unhappy too. Making your own decisions and embracing their outcomes (positive or not) will be unilaterally empowering.
Thoughts Influence Actions/Attitudes/Everything
If I think I'm anxious, I'm anxious. If I think my life is out of control, my life is out of control. If I think I'm a rotten human who is unworthy of love or kindness, I AM unworthy of love or kindness. Do you see? Psychotherapist Anne Morin writes, "Once you draw a conclusion about yourself, you’re likely to do two things; look for evidence that reinforces your belief and discount anything that runs contrary to your belief." Instead of thinking, "I don't deserve to succeed," think, "I work hard and deserve success." This small mindset shift makes minor missteps part of the journey, not enormous failures.
Things Usually Work Out In The End
Similar to my first point: worrying about the future does nothing, and usually, problems work themselves out. Wayne Dyer said, "If you believe it will work out, you'll see opportunities. If you believe it won't, you'll see obstacles." The reason things usually work out in the end, is that the alternative is...what? Unhappiness? Loneliness? Confusion? Death? We don't remain unhappy forever unless we chose to be unhappy.
Self-Love is The Only Thing That Will Keep You Afloat
If you don't love yourself, every obstacle in life will feel like the end of the world. A breakup, the loss of a job, the loss of a friend, business ventures gone awry, et cetera. If you tie your worth to external circumstances or other people, you can never be truly happy. Unadulterated self-love and an unshakable belief in your self-worth will help you overcome any hurdle with grace. Anxiety, doubt, and fear are common, and you should allow yourself to feel each of these emotions. You shouldn't, however, let yourself be controlled by them. It's a fine line to walk, but once you discover the difference, your entire world will change for the better.
P.S. Check out this Ted Talk on Cultivating Unconditional Self-Worth by Adia Gooden (it's amazing).