This post was originally written for Positively Positive.
Change. Apparently we don’t do the change thing very well. In fact, somewhere along the way it seems that we became so rubbish at it that ‘Change Managers’ and ‘Change Agents’ seem to have sprung up all over the place.
(Can you imagine the graveyards of the future: ‘Here lies Marshall Braxton, loving father, son and Change Agent’; ‘Heath Lomas, dearly missed Relationship Manager’. But I digress).
In truth, change is the one constant that can be guaranteed in life and everywhere we look we are reminded of this fact – night becomes day, winter becomes spring, today’s hottest property becomes tomorrow’s Z-list reality TV show fodder. The thing with such changes is that they are so normal, so everyday, that they become almost imperceptible to us.
As a parent, perhaps the most striking reminder of the imperceptible nature of change comes each year when we take delivery of the latest school photographs. We notice the change from last year’s photographs, amazed at just how much our children have grown, without us even noticing, and we wonder where our babies have gone.
And yet, despite the ever changing nature of life, many of us fear change and of making big decisions that we know will change our lives forever. But sometimes we don’t have a choice. Sometimes life happens, and it seems that everything we once knew has gone, and we know that nothing will ever, ever be the same again.
When such change occurs we can be sent into a spin, unsure of the new shape that life will mould around us, unsure of our place within a once familiar environment that is now unalterably different. An apparently familiar environment from which a departed loved one is now absent, or where the pain of serious illness makes once simple tasks unbearably difficult, or where cherished belongings are sold to adjust to a new financial reality in the face of redundancy.
There is one change that many of us wish for every week – winning the lottery. You say you don’t like change? Not many of us would turn down the opportunity of becoming an overnight millionaire. And yet many of those that do, report that they are no happier than they were before their worries were apparently ended. Many, in fact, end up wishing that they hadn’t won at all, and that they could go back to how things were before. Sometimes the very changes we wish for turn out to be a curse rather than a blessing.Conversely, the seemingly worst changes that life forces upon us can turn out to be the very greatest of blessings. From the moments of fear, doubt, and despair, can be unearthed the seeds that, if watered correctly, can lead to our greatest growth. Life will never be the same again, but we may well have the opportunity and the power to shape a future better than any we could have previously imagined.
When sudden change turns our life upside down we have a choice: we can fight against and resist the change that has been forced upon us, rooting us to the spot from which life has tried to shift us; or we can mine the moment for its lessons and heed the call to make the biggest and most important changes of all – the changes to ourselves that enable us to adapt to our new circumstances, to survive the storm and, in time, to thrive like never before.
We have limited control over what happens to us, we have infinitely more power to choose how we respond to it. To choose who we want to be after the storm has passed.
Life has seen many, many changes for me in recent years. Two severe mental breakdowns, a divorce, followed by faltering steps towards a new life that I hadn’t asked for. A life that I now wouldn’t change for anything.
Something changed. And out of my greatest nightmare came the fulfilment of a once impossible dream. In December 2017, my first book, Something Changed: Stumbling Through Divorce, Dating and Depression, was published. From the worst moments of my life have emerged some of the very, very best; greater days than I could possibly have imagined. There have been plenty of shitty days too of course, but they make the best of days all the better.
Now, my words are helping others that are facing similar challenges in their own lives. That’s amazing, and is a privilege that I will forever be grateful for.
Through the challenges of divorce, dating and depression, I have changed. Imperceptibly perhaps, but I am not the person that I was when my marriage ended, nor when I was living my life blissfully unaware of the havoc that mental illness would wreak upon me. I am stronger, wiser, and more compassionate. Perhaps most importantly, I know myself better than I ever have before, and when I look inside myself I am happier than I ever have been with what I see.
I wouldn’t change that for anything.
‘Something Changed’ is available to buy now from Amazon, in paperback and ebook formats: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1912218143. (UK)
Changes – David Bowie