It’s easy to get despondent when you embark on a major positive change in your life only to find you slip back into old ways before you achieve what you set out to.
For some, this regression can spell the end of the road as far as pursuing change goes. It can be frustrating, disheartening and sometimes even embarrassing when you have to confront the fact that you didn’t achieve what you set out to.
But there’s another more positive way to look at setbacks that inevitably occur on the journey of change.
“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Karen Kaiser Clark
The Only Constant
Change is a fascinating concept. We live with continual change (you’ve no doubt heard the saying “the only constant in life is change”) and yet most of us resist anything other than minor change in our personal lives because the prospect is too uncomfortable to contemplate.
Yet change is all around us and we know, intuitively, that change promotes growth through presenting us with different scenarios, conditions, experiences and, of course, opportunities.
Part Of A Cycle
Though change can sometimes seem random and sudden, when viewed within the broader context all change happens as part of a cycle.
Thanks to the wondrous nature of our universe and the way in which everything is in ordered motion, our day follows night, high tide follows low tide, summer follows spring which follows winter which follows autumn – all with unceasing regularity.
Even the stars in our night sky change position in a grand cycle – lasting some 23 600 years – referred to as precession.
For those of us who take fright at the thought of change, it should be somewhat comforting to know that, in the bigger picture, the more that things change the more they stay the same.
The Brilliance Of Creation
It’s worth reflecting here on the brilliance of creation.
Change is built into our everyday lives through the way the universe functions to ensure that our lives have contrast and variety. On the other hand, we have the comfort of knowing that change happens in predictable and reliable cycles.
It’s as if nature is offering us a clear message:
“Embrace change, do not fear it. The variety it offers is the perfect nutrient for your growth.”
The Stages Of Personal Change
When confronting personal change it is helpful to understand that it too happens in a cyclical fashion.
Stage 1: Acknowledging dissatisfaction with the current state
Stage 2: Considering options for change and deciding on one or more actions
Stage 3: Taking the action required to bring about the desired change
Stage 4: Holding course or maintaining the required actions until …
Stage 5: A setback (or ‘regression’) occurs and we find ourselves back at Stage 1; OR
Stage 6: The change (or shift) that we set out to bring about happens.
No Smooth Sailing
Change is rarely ‘smooth sailing’. Most of us experience ‘headwinds’, ‘storms’ or ‘unexpected floating obstacles’ of some description when we embark on a journey of personal change.
All too often this regression is the signal for us to pack it all in and revert back to the unhappy state we started out in, believing that we now have proof that change is far too difficult.
Harnessing The Growth
What we don’t understand or appreciate, while contemplating regression, is the degree to which we have already grown thanks to the challenges that have been thrown at us.
Rather than ignore this growth we need to harness it. Sometimes all it takes is a little reflection, a positive mindset and a somewhat different approach to navigate the change cycle again, this time with a positive outcome.
In New Insights life coaching we like to explain to clients that regression is a very normal part of the change cycle and to be expected and acted upon positively.
An Upwards Spiral
To help reinforce the message we help clients to visualise the change cycle not as a one dimensional circle but as an upward spiral with growth on the vertical axis.
The implication of this is that, although regression can send us back to Stage 1 it cannot wipe out the personal growth that we have achieved. In other words we are positioned to make another push for change but this time with vastly improved resources.
Never forget: The darkest part of the night comes just before dawn!
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