Fall has arrived and things are beginning to change. In the Midwest this is an expected phenomenon when the weather begins to cool, and the daylight begins to shorten. Even though we all know to expect change, both seasonal and personal, some changes are harder than others. Some of us are adaptable and graceful in change and some of us are not. Specifically, there are three practices we can cultivate for the normal flow of life changes so we can handle them with more grace. Incorporating awareness, action and acceptance will help us be more calm and peaceful in the process of flow of life changes.
Part of handling change well is noticing that it’s coming. Just like in the fall season there are some subtle signs present that alert you to the fact that a larger switch of season is almost here. The first sign is the end of summer flowers to bloom for the year and the slower growth of all of the plants around. Then, the days begin to get shorter, the nights cooler. Finally, the days are much shorter, the days are cool, the leaves are brilliantly colored and then they all fall off the trees near the end of the season. In our own lives we can fail to notice the early signs that things are changing and then feel caught by surprise. This would be like waking up on November 21st, putting on your beach gear and getting ready for a day in the sun and being shocked it was 44 degrees with rain and wind!
Sometimes change can be sudden in our lives but more often than not we’ve had some signs that things are shifting. In relationships it can be increasing distance, increasing conflicts or a feeling of not being able to connect or understand each other. In aging, we know every year we get older; our children and family members are older and taking on new responsibilities or attaining different life stages with new needs. In our own health we begin to notice subtle signs in our body that things have shifted. Accepting change begins with noticing some signs that it is imminent or coming.
The next part of handling change is when we see the signs change is coming, we accept them for what they are. It is so easy to push them down, push them away or deny what we see. If there are multiple consistent indicators of change, we are not acting wisely by pushing them away. It can be hard to accept change but pretending it does not happen leaves us unprepared when it is right at our doorstep. In the beach example we know the weather in November, in the Chicago area is unlikely to be beach weather. When we have information at our disposal, we need to use it and be wise in our approach. If we see warning signs in relationships, in our health, or in our body we need to take them seriously and accept the need to take action.
The last part of gracefully handling change is facing the fact that we don’t control it and it is inevitable. Even though I love summer I’ve seen the signs of fall. The leaves are changing, and my calendar tells me fall has begun. When change has arrived, I can face it with acceptance instead of fighting it or ignoring it. Not every change in life is benign or easy to accept. Even still our assignment is not to fight against what we don’t have control over. Some changes are like this, if we practice awareness, action, and acceptance we can find ourselves gracefully moving with change.