At the beginning of 2012, I went through what I refer to as a dark night of the soul. My faith has always been an important part of how I moved through the world. But in 2012 I found myself not believing in anything that had once framed my spiritual foundation.
It was a dark time for me. I would have moments when the darkness would lift, but mostly I found myself moving through my days on autopilot. The situation was made more challenging by the fact that I was a pastor at the time.
When I finally emerged from that dark time I knew I would need to make a few changes in my life. The pace at which I was moving was not working for me and I had to slow down. My soul NEEDED me to slow down.
I sensed on an intuitive level that honoring what my soul needed would mean leaving my job. And since I was on staff at a church, it would also mean leaving my faith community.
The idea of upending my life like that felt SCARY! Too scary and for a long time, I tried ignoring what my soul was saying to me. Eventually, though, things got where I could not keep pretending my life was working for me. It would ultimately take me two years to make the changes I needed to make.
Getting there was hard. Moving through it was hard. And finding a new normal took a long time (and in many ways, I’m still figuring things out). What I have discovered though is that while change IS hard, the possibilities that open up on the other side are well worth navigating the hard.
Along the way, I learned that the word CHANGE holds within it lessons for how to move through it with ease and grace.
C – Choose your perspective
Where you start from in your mind matters. If you start from believing it is impossible then impossible it will be because what you focus on IS what will grow. You have to decide early on to stay open to possibility. As Maria in The Sound of Music reminds us, “When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window”. If you keep looking at the closed door, you’ll never find the open window.
H – Hold yourself with grace and kindness
Change will stretch you in unexpected ways. You might like all that stretching or you might be like me and find it incredibly uncomfortable. And one guaranteed by-product of change is that all your stuff will come to the surface. This is all the inner insecurities, doubts, and limiting beliefs you have about yourself. When that happens, grace and kindness are needed. Stay out of judgment and RLK it (give yourself Ridiculous Levels of Kindness)
A – Acknowledge how you are feeling
Pretending you’re not feeling what you’re feeling will do you no good. What you resist is what will persist so instead of pretending you’re not scared out of your mind, acknowledge it. Those emotions that you judge as bad or wrong, they need naming because often just the act of naming them reduces some of the power they have over you. Whatever you’re feeling, acknowledge it.
N – Notice the thoughts running through your mind
Fear is the most common obstacle when navigating change. You want to start paying attention to the thoughts running around in your mind. Because this is where the battle between you and fear is really happening. Before any outer change can happen, your self-talk has to change first. And make no mistake, your inner critic, that annoying negative voice in your head, is doing all she can to make sure you stay put. Your job is to notice those thoughts and then…
G – Get curious
This is where you get to turn into the Sherlock Holmes of your thought life J You want to start getting curious about those thoughts and where they might be coming from. Are they really your thoughts/beliefs or did you pick them up from someone else? Your curiosity around your thoughts is the key to you moving through this fear you’re feeling.
E – Embrace the uncertainty
Uncertainty is a given when it comes to change. Even if you are the world’s greatest organizer, you really have no way of knowing exactly what’s going to happen. And I can guarantee that at some point all your best-laid plans will blow up completely. The sooner you embrace the uncertainty of it all and accept it for what it is, the easier it will be for you. Work with the information you have, plan as much as you can, AND stay flexible. Be willing to adjust as you go along.
The last few years have been some of the most challenging for me. I could easily act as if it has been all rainbows and unicorns but the truth is it hasn’t been. Leaving my job was the right decision and it set in motion a series of changes I had no way of anticipating. Those changes opened up new possibilities for me in unexpected ways.
When things get hard as you are navigating change, it’s easy to think you’ve made a mistake. But hard doesn’t mean wrong. I believe these 6 lessons can support you in staying the course. And remember, every THE END holds within it the promise of a ONCE UPON A TIME.
Here’s to you navigating change, finding the promise, and rising into your greatness.
From my heart to yours,