Change

Feeling overwhelmed hurts. We naturally want to get out of that pain. But often the things we get to stop the pain are temporary distractions. It's kind of like you stub your toe and it hurts like hell, and a friend makes a funny face while doing a cartwheel, and you laugh and feel better. But a few seconds later the toe pain returns.

What helps me when I'm overwhelmed is to know that the pain will soon be over. My "best-friend" change will present me with something new to replace that experience. I learned this when I used to be a caterer. We'd sometimes work 12 hour non-stop days. At about the six hour point I'd had enough. I'd think, "I can't take this anymore. I'm going to quit." But then a little more time would go by. And then a little more. And then the job would be over and I'd soon be laying on my bed about to fall asleep. When I reached the too-much point again, I'd remember, "Oh, yeah, before I know it I'll be laying in bed and this will have been like a dream." This helped me relax in the midst of mayhem and enjoy my work.

The funny thing is even knowing the benefits of change, there can still be resistance. The unknown can be daunting. "Who knows what's going to take its place?" This can make us try and hang onto the things that no longer fit our life. The even funnier thing is that change is happening anyway, all the time. Trying to stop things from changing is like resisting the Ocean, which causes even more pain. It can feel so much better to go along with change, even when what's dissolving into something new is something we once loved.

I worked with a client recently who was hanging onto a bunch of art work that she did long ago. She jammed the paintings into the storage space in her apartment's basement. It felt like it hurt her to put the art into what was essentially a trash bin that wasn't getting emptied. She felt like she should be saving them. I asked if she could put them on the walls of her home, but she didn't want them there. Her new way of creating art had changed into writing stories. She didn't want to be reminded of the past, at the same time she couldn't let it go. The resistance to change goes beyond our intellect.

I had my client stand in her storage locker with the art and asked her how it felt. She said, "It feels like a prison. I've locked up the things I used to love and it hurts my heart. I want to set them free." We loaded up her SUV and brought the art to Goodwill. I think it felt good for her to ride the Ocean's waves.