With the colder weather and emerging vibrant colours of fall, change is tangible in the autumn winds. However much we would like to hold onto the sun beaming down on our flip-flops and building sandcastles on golden beaches, nature has a timetable of its own. We are on this earth and connected to the weather, whether we embrace it or not.
When we are faced with a life-altering event like the death of a loved one, cancer or divorce, change is one of the biggest obstacles that we face. Change from the familiar to the unfamiliar, a healthy body to a sick one, being part of a relationship to being alone or forming a new one. The uncertainty and anxiety created by this change leave us feeling out of control and introduces us to the acidic taste of perceived unfairness.
So how do we bring back our body, mind and soul into a balanced state to handle this change in an effective and healthy way?
Building on a foundation and understanding that we are in control of some aspects of the change is essential. When we feel completely out of control, we become disoriented, frazzled and almost every aspect of the change seems insurmountable. Everything feels out of our grasp and it can feel like we are drowning in a sea of emotions and reactions. At this point, we are not able to calm our minds and think clearly about what to do or how to manage the situation or ourselves.
Start with a simple guided journaling prompt:
EVERYTHING IS OUT OF CONTROL.
Now list three items that are out of your control.
WHAT IS IN MY CONTROL?
Name three things that are in your control.
(when you eat food, what you decided to wear today etc.)
By naming easy and almost obvious things that you have control over, your mind will start to calm down. You will feel stillness coming back to your mind and spirit. Once you have reached a state where you can more easily journal about your feelings, start naming more things that you do have control over. Perhaps you don’t have control over crying every time you see something that reminds you of the one you’ve lost. Getting angry when you look at yourself in old photographs and see a healthy you, compared to your body now with cancer; or cynical when you get a wedding invitation post-divorce. All of these are triggers that can leave us feeling out of control. Although we cannot control events or circumstances, we are able to control some of our emotions. In the same way, as above, list the emotions that you do not have control over.
Name three emotions that you DO NOT have control over:
Journal down three emotions that you DO have control over.
How do these emotions come about?
Random or are there specific triggers?
Is there a better way to avoid these triggers?
How do I arm myself, physically, mentally and spiritually for these triggers?
As we delve deeper into guided journaling, our aim is to gain a degree of control over ourselves so that the events that bring change impact our lives in a less intense way. Journaling down very specific details about sections almost gives us a handbook to our core selves.
When we don’t deal with the aspect of control over our lives, circumstances or events we run the risk of becoming bitter and resentful, thus preventing us from living full and healthy lives. Even though we cannot control what happens to us, we can work towards our reactions and attitudes.
How we think about the change in our lives can make the difference between living in kindness or judgement, forgiveness or hostility, love or hatred. Our choices influence all aspects of our lives. As we take responsibility for our lives, we choose how we deal with life-altering events, we can align our bodies, minds and spirits and gain back control.
When we think of change in terms of nature, autumn is a time for most plants to become dormant until spring. So take some time for yourself, become dormant while soul-searching and prioritize quiet introspection. It is only when we embrace autumn that we can prepare for the harsh storms of winter, strengthened in our faith that spring will return.