There's no doubt over the next few decades we will face much change personally, at work, as well as environmentally, as we collectively navigate the complex challenges and crises facing our world. I’ve heard sociologists question if their field will exist for much longer because our social world is changing too fast to even study.
Moving forward, one thing is certain: we're on a fast track of change, and this calls for a different set of skills to stay connected to yourself and continue to thrive no matter what life throws your way.
Humanity is in a time of transition right now.
The great ecologist and systems thinker, Joanna Macy, calls where we are at The Great Turning. She believes humanity is going through a difficult passage, facing challenges to its existence where, if we are prepared to make some big changes, we could potentially create a life-sustaining civilisation for all. Indeed, there are many efforts across the globe working toward this future vision right now.
All transitions have three recognisable phases: what’s ended (the old reality), the middle period (that seriously uncomfortable in-between phase), and what is yet to come (the unknown new reality).
What’s interesting about transition, whether personal or collective, is that even when the old form dies, we still operate and behave as if everything’s as it’s always been. That's because transition is about your inner response to change, and it takes time and effort to mentally and emotionally adapt to and integrate external change.
And because our world keeps changing, we will be in this transition period for many years to come.
That's why it's crucial to understand - uncertainty is the new norm.
In my counselling work, I've found uncertainty to be the area people struggle with the most. Not knowing what’s ahead, being hit with a surprising change in your relationship or circumstances where you realise your life up to now hasn't equipped you for your new reality.
I want to convince you to love uncertainty, but I know you won’t fall for that. Because we secretly hate uncertainty. Not knowing what’s around the corner brings up our deepest irrational fears and insecurities. Many of us would rather retreat into a whirlwind of 'busy', or crawl into the lining of our couches, than face the unknown.
And yet these times are what they are. We are being called to show up and play our part.
That's why the wisest, most proactive approach you can take is to start cultivating inner qualities that will help you navigate this transition. Here are my top 5 mindset tips that will help you thrive in changing times.
Being willing to adapt to changing circumstances means having the ability to let go of what’s not working in your life, to release your attachment to the way things were, to surrender when you don’t know, and to trust in the resources you have within you, and the community you have around you, to come up with creative new solutions. It means learning how to step into the flow of life.
2. Uncertainty resilience
The best personal growth and transitions tip I can offer is to learn how to get comfortable with uncertainty, because we don’t find out who we are when we are stuck in our carefully constructed and controlled worlds. Real growth happens outside that space.
Building uncertainty resilience means learning how to tolerate and be with the discomfort that arises when you're facing change and taking the actions you need to take despite that discomfort.
What you can do is teach yourself to loosen your attachment to control. Chuck out stuff. Let go of needing to be right, of needing to have all the answers. Stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone with new challenges and activities often.
3. Willingness to feel
There's a lot of talk about emotional intelligence in our culture, but way too little experiencing of it. We’re more skilled at distracting, avoiding and medicating ourselves than ever.
Grief is a natural response to loss, and loss is a natural part of change. And so by giving yourself permission to face and feel your emotions as they arise in response to change greatly assists adjusting to the new.
It takes great courage to show up in a changing world and see things as they are, to face hard truths, and to take action even when it's difficult and there's no guarantee of the outcome. It takes courage to walk your talk, to not let fear rule your life and to feel the vulnerability of not knowing.
Courage appears en-route when you make the tough decisions and do what's needed.
As we expand our awareness to include the global community and come to appreciate just how interconnected and interdependent we are on each other, community shifts into sharper focus. The more connected you feel to your community, the more supported you will feel no matter what the outer circumstances.
The transition we are in will continue to provide many opportunities to re-examine our lives, our place in the world and how connected we are to each other. It will stretch us to show up more fully, every time. It asks us to bring our biggest strengths and highest qualities out into the world. As always, it's up to us to dig deep and find creative ways to respond.
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