A positive, optimistic attitude is the main ingredient for embracing change and welcoming what's new.
I asked for strength, and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom, and God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for prosperity, and God gave me intelligence and skills so I could work.
I asked for courage, and God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for patience, and God put me in situations in which I was forced to wait.
I asked for love, and God gave me people with problems so I could help them.
I asked for favors, and God gave me opportunities.
I asked for everything to be able to enjoy life.
In exchange, He gave me life so I could enjoy everything.
I didn’t receive anything I asked for, but I did receive everything I needed. — Author unknown
It’s the great incongruity of life: We believe that once we have whatever we lack, or once we achieve whatever it is we want, then we will be completely happy. Yet, at the same time, we resist change. Why? This makes no sense, since in order to achieve something new, we must necessarily be willing to do something different — to change.
The truth is, the only constant in life is change. That is to say, it is the only permanent reality. Naturally, we are going to feel afraid every time we approach the limits of our comfort zone, but this is precisely the great challenge we all face: to transform fear — in this case, the fear of change — into love and opportunity. A positive, optimistic attitude is the main ingredient for embracing change and welcoming what’s new.
Change creates fear and uncertainty because what we are facing — this new reality, what will come or what will be — is unknown to us. While we travel along the path of change, especially if that change comes with great suffering, we can lose our hope, our enthusiasm, our dreams, our happiness, and even our faith. In order to stay balanced, we need that marvelous quality called resilience so we can keep going.
In order to be filled up, we must first empty ourselves. You can’t fill a cup of coffee unless it’s empty. Change is an invitation to readjust our lives, to live differently. It is difficult for anyone — people of faith, atheists, psychologists, etc. — to accept change and leave our comfort zone. And, of course, living inside our comfort zone is delightful: everything in life is going well and just the way we like it. There might be a change or two, but without further problems or consequences.
What can I do so that the change I’m facing today is as bearable as possible, and so that letting go isn’t so painful? In order to receive what is new, we have to let go of what is old. The fact is, the more attachments we have, the more suffering we experience.
The difference will depend on whether I let go with love and in peace, or with fear and with everything that comes from it: anger, irritation, rancor, a sense of victimization, impatience, etc. It makes a huge difference if I let go with gratitude, or against my will; if I give thanks because I had that thing or experience, or if I feel sad because it is gone. After walking down a path, what’s left is the memory of what we experienced. So we have to try to make the memory of what we are choosing to leave behind as pleasant as possible. This is also a choice.
Change implies that we have lost something, and at the same time, that we’ve gained something. Every ending brings with it the gift of a new opportunity, a new beginning. The most difficult thing about facing change is trying to adjust to what is new in our lives in a balanced way, and staying calm in the midst of a tsunami of emotions. It is difficult, but it is possible.
I’m sharing these tips with you so you can make the most of the upside of any change you may have to face.
Change your attitude
You can choose to be attached to your past — to what is gone, no longer exists, or is no longer possible. (Just remember that if you don’t let go, you can’t move on.) Or, you can face what is coming by embracing your new circumstances. This doesn’t mean it won’t be painful; what it means is that your change of attitude prepares your whole being to receive what is new with your best smile.
Acknowledge what you feel
If what you feel is fear, recognize it and accept it. remember that it is neither good nor bad to be afraid. Here, what matters is what you do with what you feel. Fear is like a kind of energy within us that has the power to paralyze us or to give us wings so we can achieve our dreams. What do you want to use your fear for?
Change “why me?” to “where is this leading me?” and find meaning in the situation
Everything in this life serves a purpose. Open the eyes of your spirit and find the answers. Remember that the problem isn’t the problem; it’s how you interpret it.
Accept change, even if it comes with a storm
Only if you accept suffering can you rebuild in love, because part of happiness has to do with letting things go so you can receive again. If you can see a worthwhile end, you can bear the means more easily.
Change your way of thinking
Take change as a new adventure that life is offering you so you can be an even better person and continue to make the world a better place. Try to see things from a supernatural perspective, without ceasing to be a realist. For example, let’s say you have to deal with moving to a new city, and you are a professional marriage counselor. Think about the fact that where you are going, surely God already has many couples with marriage problems ready for you to help them. Your task will be to find them and serve them.
Be careful of your thoughts
While you are in the midst of the process of change, try to take one day at a time. Don’t hypothesize about the future or think, “What will I do?” Much less should you remain mentally in the past, full of nostalgia. Remember that God is in the real situation, not in your imagination. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Say goodbye lovingly
Gratitude is a characteristic that allows us to be more disposed to love. Whatever the cause of change might be, and even if this new blessing comes wrapped in tears and sorrow, dare to give thanks at all times.
Trust in the perfect plans that Someone has for you
It’s good for you to tell God how you feel, how frustrated you are by this change of plans or of location, etc. Ask Him for the strength to face any change peacefully, and to accept His will with a lot of love and patience.
Let go of the past that’s not allowing you to live in the present in a holy, peaceful, and harmonious way. If you are anchored in the past, it will be very difficult for you to build a better future. Remember that, in order to let go, you have to spread your arms wide, and when you hold them open, they also are a sign of welcome. Face this change that is so hard to accept that it has you in tears, and say to it: “Welcome. I am ready to receive you with love, and embrace all the blessings you bring.”
This article was originally published in the Spanish Edition of Aleteia.