Whenever I ask an audience, “Who here loves change?” I guarantee not a single hand is raised. Am I the only weirdo who thrives on change and loves a great transformation story?! What I have discovered through my studies is that life IS change. We didn’t come here to be stagnant bumps on a log. Imagine how boring life would be if nothing ever changed! We came here to grow and evolve, become more aware of who we are and deepen our relationship with each other and with the world. None of that happens without the magnificent gift of change to propel us on an inner journey of self-discovery. We are all students enrolled in this Earth School and Change is our greatest teacher. Learn to embrace life’s sudden shifts, these uncomfortable transitions, unpredictable circumstances, and disruptions to our “norm” so that we may seek the lesson or message it delivers; because I promise you, it does. Every. Single. Time.
Let’s explore, dissect, and analyze this thing called change in a way that hasn’t been done before. Change, simply put, is to alter, modify, or make to become different. Admittedly, we’ve become “different” with every change we’ve experienced. It seems change is accelerating throughout our world, in our lives, and in the lives of everyone around us. But how well are we coping with these rapid-fire changes? Just look at the news, the violence, stress, and anger all around us, locally and globally. We are failing as a society in adapting to change in a healthy way. According to a recent study conducted by Forbes, 45% of society is living under “extreme stress”! Yikes…45% living with life-threatening levels of stress?! That’s nearly half of your circle of friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who are on the brink of a breakdown. Surely this is an indication we desperately need a better way to adapt to our changing world—and sooner than later! It’s time we begin to see these changes as opportunities to gain a better understanding, learn from them and utilize the lessons so that we become a better and stronger society. Let us no longer look at ourselves as victims in an increasingly destructive world, often with a sense of helplessness. Instead, let us stand up, be strong, and move forward as a driver of change, a generator of positivity, in hopes of changing the focus on the lens of which we all view the world.
The truth I have come to realize is that the only change I have any control over is within myself. Unfortunately, I cannot change anyone else unless they have the desire within them to change first. Who I choose to become, what I choose to do, and how I decide to behave all have a direct impact on the betterment of this world. It may only impact a small group of people, or I can expand my circle of influence to potentially impact the masses. Either way, I know I must begin now. We must begin now. Unlike never before, there is an urgency that we as “messengers of change” need to address. It’s time to look a little deeper into our own lives, make appropriate changes, and demonstrate to others what positive change looks and feels like. The time has come for us to conquer the villain of denial and stop white knuckling through these times. Let’s agree to collaborate and create new perspectives that enable, not disable, our ability to change without suffering huge consequences, our mental/emotional/physical health being one of them. It helps to know how change is generated so that we can anticipate the alterations, prepare accordingly, and take proper action with confidence.
How does change occur?
A simple way to understand when change knocks at your door is to recognize either you choose it, or life chooses it for you. Either way, you’re faced with a choice to spiral up toward a greater version of who you are or fall into a state of victimhood, which can grow legs if not turned around quickly. Understanding how that change is generated will help you get to the core of what the purpose, lesson, or gift each circumstance delivers. Once we acknowledge we are experiencing change, then the transformation process kicks in.
Let’s zoom our lens and focus in for a moment on how change occurs. My mantra is “change is sometimes difficult but always worthwhile”. Once I realized that change was inevitable, I then began to embrace the flow in which change occurs, and suddenly life began to take on a whole new meaning. It certainly wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but I began to recognize the shifting sands of change and started to embrace that awkward, uncomfortable feeling and face the hard truth that my life was entering another state of transition. Each time saying to myself, “It’s okay…This is just what transformation feels like.” Like everything else in life, transformation is just a series of phases.
When I dug deep to get to the core of what causes changes in our lives, I broke it down into four categories: an Event, an Encounter, an Epiphany, or when it’s Essential. Here is a simple breakdown and examples of each cause of change that springs us into our growth spurts:
- Event ~ These are life-altering events that outcomes are seldom prepared for, such as a death of a loved one, birth of a child, divorce, marriage, loss of a job, new job, an accident, and health or financial crisis. These events cause a sudden awakening and “reality check” forcing us to act. Even when considering happy occasions, like a vacation for example, the anticipation is often more exciting than the event itself, reminding us that we were not as prepared as we thought. So, when reality seeps in, it can be quite stimulating to say the least. When events occur unexpectedly, I see them as directional signs, moving us toward a greater purpose or another path. Think of every event in your life, notice the fork in the road, the choices you made, and how they led you to where you are today.
- Encounter~ These changes are caused by an encounter with other people—our relationships. Change can stem from engaging with a perfect stranger or someone we’ve known our entire life. I have started to believe that these people, these encounters, are messengers. We either receive or reject feedback, criticism, or an opinion from another that opens our eyes for us to see ourselves in a different light. On the other hand, when we are engaged with others, we find that we either admire them and see a reflection of our own unused potential, or we recognize a shadow side and can admit we sometimes possess the same ugly quality. This is typically a part of ourselves we realize would be beneficial if changed. These messengers, who hold a mirror up for you to see yourself differently, cause us to react either for the better or for the worse. This change can occur in the form of a disagreement, a break-up, experiencing new love, interacting with colleagues, or parental, spousal, sibling, and offspring issues. Has someone entered or left your life and took you in another direction?
- Epiphany ~ The “aha” moment when clarity comes shining through those rose-colored glasses you’ve been looking through seemingly out of nowhere. An epiphany-type change occurs with the power of a single thought, like a truth revealed based on a message, self-discovery, or a breakthrough. It’s like a download of wisdom bearing new perspectives and truths, perhaps contrasting your current belief system. Trust that these thoughts are coming from a place of higher consciousness and are not to be ignored. Remember, truth is sometimes absurd when first heard. Some call this a “spiritual awakening”. They are powerfully profound and transformation is instantaneous.
- Essential ~ This change is more of a necessity that is intentionally made from your internal decision-maker and stems from a need to improve your life physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. This change in mindset occurs for your survival; it’s an intentional alteration in your belief system, recovery from a life that hasn’t served you. Change is the only alternative. It is typically essential for change to occur for those suffering from addictions, abusive relationships, toxic environments, or a health issue. Follow your instincts when you hear change is calling you…step into the unknown with courage and curiosity and know that what awaits you will be well worth it. Get support to make the changes you seek and trust the Universe has your back.
Human behavioral response, spiritual evolution, and human development are as natural as the sunrise and sunset. Without change, transcendence toward the next greatest version of ourselves would not be possible. Rather than sweeping change under the rug or allowing that change to stop us in our tracks, we can now see it coming around the curve. When we know we are experiencing an event, encountering a new relationship, having an epiphany, or making an essential change, we are now prepared for the transformation process. Use that event, circumstance, or breakthrough as a launch pad toward our untapped potential. Remember, change is merely Life tapping you on the shoulder reminding you to step up your game and become an active participant in contributing to its goodness.
Angel Carlton is a published author of Dedicated to Destiny, a podcast host, and professional speaker. As Founder of Power Up People, a personal growth & leadership development organization, and a former professional NBA cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls, Angel is an advocate for emotional/mental well-being and enthusiastically cheers on humanity for conscious change.