How do you cope with sudden change and not knowing what the future will bring?

Photo by Ross Findon

Photo by Ross Findon

After my last blog post about letting go of what you think life should look, I received emails with questions about coping with change and how to let go and get unstuck. These were great questions and useful for us all to consider as we all experience and have to find our way through change.

When life changes very quickly it can feel like the rug is swept out from under your feet and you don’t yet know where you will land.  When the sudden change relates to our living arrangements our sense of security becomes threatened and can trigger our fight, flight, freeze response. A sudden change in our circumstances or expectations can initially shake everything up creating confusion and an inability to see the way forward.  In time when the mud settles, there can be more clarity.

If even just reading this makes you feel uneasy, take a moment to ground yourself in the safety of this present moment.  Feel your feet on the ground, look around you where you are and name what you see, notice your breath and see if you can slow it down and make it deeper and remind yourself that you are safe.

Like you, I’ve experienced a lot of change in my own life. Mine include changes in living arrangements, to redundancy, to relationships and friendships ending and deaths of loved ones. I experienced all the emotions that go along with change: shock, disbelief, anger, confusion, grief, sorrow, uncertainty, fear and eventually even curiosity and excitement about new possibilities.

Packing up my life to travel for a year (which turned into a prolonged period of living between Melbourne and Thailand, travelling and adventures such as walking the Via Francigena) meant that I have spent a large chunk of my life with my belongings in storage and without a permanent home.

Having a home gives us a sense of security and safety, as does having some certainty in our working and personal relationships. A change in our life circumstances can make us feel unsafe.

In my experience, not having a permanent home and travelling meant I had to trust that somehow everything would turn out okay, that I would find a roof over my head and work when I needed it. It helped me to grow my courage and my trust in the universe but I also experienced a lot of fear and shed many tears along the way.

A great example of this trust and courage was my experience when I was walking the Via Francigena and I arrived in Gy, a small town in eastern France with a population of just over 1,000 and was unable to find accommodation. I had been afraid that this would happen.  You can read the whole story here, but here’s the very short version.

A little pot of panic simmered in my stomach and started to boil as I worked through my list of accommodation options and couldn’t find anything. But a very firm voice within me told me to “Keep calm,” which I did. Eventually I found a Bed n Breakfast in Choye, a town 4 kilometres away and after making a phone call speaking only in French with my limited vocabulary and comprehension, I found a room for the night. I was so happy and relieved and even victorious.

That night I wrote in my Via Francigena blog…

“Everything always works out.  We end up exactly where we are meant to be.”

For me this continues to be true, although it doesn’t always feel like it in the midst of change or uncertainty. It is at those times that I find it most useful to reflect on my life, at the path I’ve travelled with all the change, fear and uncertainty I’ve experienced and how life turned out at those times and the gifts it gave me. That is, I give myself a reminder of how everything has worked out okay.

I find that when change comes, my life turns out in ways I could never have imagined.

If you are experiencing a period of change and transition in your life with all of the fear, grief, uncertainty, frustration and confusion that may entail, may you connect deeply with our Mother Earth who supports you with every breath and may friends and loved ones hold space for your uncertainty and unfolding.

With love and courage, 

Kym xx

PS I love to hear from you, so if you have a question or a comment get in touch!

Before you dismiss that crazy idea you have, read this…

Photo by Austin Chan

Photo by Austin Chan

Some 15 years ago when I was committed to my career and worked as an executive manager in a listed financial services company, I suddenly started feeling the urge to paint (as in art not house walls or fences.)

It was easy to dismiss at first as a “crazy” idea. I wasn’t great at art in high school. I got a C-grade in the last ever art class I took in year 8. That made it go away for a while.

But it came back, like a little kid tugging at my pant legs trying to get my attention.

Go away, I told it annoyed that it was there again.

I’m not an artist. I’m not good at art

And that made it go quiet for a while.

But it came back again and again and kept nagging at me no matter how many times I tried to dismiss it until it became pretty insistent.

So I became curious about this urge to paint and inquired within myself. Why was this urge here? What did it want of me? What did it want me to know?

I discovered that I didn’t want to learn the techniques of painting but that I wanted to explore with paint and have fun with it. Although I didn’t really understand why I had the urge to paint I stayed open to the idea.

Eventually I found an intuitive painting workshop just down the road from me. My inner painting urge (aka my inner child) was pretty excited about the idea of this workshop, jumping up and down with glee. Although I felt a bit scared and nervous, I signed up and went.

It was subtly life changing.

The intuitive painting course reintroduced meditation back into my life as each session started with a gentle breath meditation that I loved. It was calming, loving and kind.
I rediscovered my creativity. I had actually always been a crafty child.
I remembered how to have fun again.
I learned to risk making mistakes and that any mistake I made in a painting just helped the painting to evolve in a different way.
Most importantly, I reconnected with my intuition that had gone AWOL for a while as I had overridden and ignored it so many times with my fearful and rationalising mind.

Just like we can override and dismiss our inner callings, we can also override, ignore, dismiss or rationalise the unexpected opportunities that life presents us.

Here is a short excerpt from my book, The Path We Make: a journey of the heart on the Via Francigena—in fact it is the opening paragraph of the book.

 

“Oh no! I’m not interested in walking that far. Ever!”

That was my response several years ago when my employer asked me to join a team that would walk 50 kilometres to raise money for the Leprosy Mission. I can’t help but laugh kindly at that younger version of myself who scoffed at the idea and was adamant that she would never walk that far. I don’t believe everything in our lives is predetermined, but there are some things that life wants us to experience. If at first we turn our backs on those things or head in a different direction, life has a miraculous way of finding an alternative way in or choosing another way to speak to us so that we hear and understand. It calls us forward again and again to come down the path it wants us to follow, until finally we say yes and take those steps.

Sometimes our callings will come in the form of inner urgings, curiosities, recurring thoughts and ideas. Sometimes they will come as opportunities, invitations, signs and coincidences from the world around us.

Often we will push them away, ignore or dismiss them and/or rationalise why we shouldn’t pay attention to them because they are foreign to the life that we know and are currently living and we aren’t yet ready to accept them into our field of possibilities.

Sometimes they scare us and we might not even recognise we are scared.

Often they will keep coming back—especially the ones that really want our care and focus.

When something flirts with you or you become aware of some recurring theme, sign, thought, urge or other pattern in your life— pay attention and get curious. At first they may seem irrational, crazy, foreign, silly, out-there, nonsensical or irrelevant, but you also don’t know what rich gifts they have for you or where they may lead you.

I’d love to hear your stories about what has called to you that you have dismissed until you finally had to listen and say yes.

Leave a comment below or send me a private message. And if ever you want some support to explore what is calling you, I’m here. Just reach out.