Our world is characterized by rapid change and uncertainty. With new technologies, scientific advances, and rapid access to information, increasing expectations are being placed on us to do more things, faster and better. At times we feel stressed, overwhelmed and struggle with the inevitable fear, anxiety and doubt change brings up. I believe that we all have a choice to consciously embrace change rather than to unconsciously react to it.
Why do we fear change?
We are hard-wired to react to change; to protect ourselves and stay safe. Our primitive brains unconsciously “turn on” when we are in a situation that is different; we prefer sameness. Our amygdala (part of the brain) is constantly scanning our environment and when it senses a threat, it sends messages to our bodies to go into fight, flight or freeze. We all have seen friends or colleagues become angry or “edgy” when a change is imposed on them (e.g. new management, downsize, separation or divorce). We’ve also observed others or ourselves going into paralysis, and unable to make a decision. You may find when you are forced into changing something in your life, you typically want to run away from it or “hide your head in the sand”. We all have different ways we react to change.
There is strong evidence to show that we can choose how we respond to change. By consciously changing our beliefs and perceptions we have about change, we can physiologically change the structure of our brain (e.g. create new neural pathways). Dr. Norman Doidge’s amazing work on neuroplasticity described in The Brain that Changes Itself provides strong supportive evidence. Dr. Bruce Lipton in The Biology of Belief, shares powerful scientific evidence to show that all the cells in our body are affected by our thoughts.
How can we reduce our fear of change?
- Understand how and why we respond to change
- Become aware of our beliefs about change
- Try on some new beliefs around change
- Learn a proven model and tools to help us reduce resistance, and embrace and successfully navigate any change
- Commit to integrating new change strategies into our lives.
The more you understand change and the more self aware you are about how and why you respond to it, the more easily you can embrace and move through it.
So where can you start?
The 5-step Art of Change Framework I’ve developed based on more than 25 years of living, consulting and coaching on 5 continents, is a practical and accessible process. This framework is a proven model for embracing change whether it involves getting unstuck and moving forward when change is imposed on you, or whether you choose to initiate a change in your beliefs, attitudes and/or behaviors.
The Art of Change Framework is based on the belief that embracing change is a creative process that opens us up to new possibilities. Think of the times in your life when change was thrust upon you; e.g. you were laid off; or when a boyfriend/girlfriend broke up with you. At that time, you may have felt caught off guard, angry, fearful and uncertain about the future. On reflection, these changes opened you up to a new and better relationship or a position more aligned with your values and passions.
Embracing change enables you to let go of patterns that are no longer serving you and to move forward with confidence, clarity, improved health, happiness, fulfillment, and inner peace. For examples of this see: http://pamela-thompson.com/let-go-fly-free/.
The Art of Change Framework is a 5-step process for embracing change that uses the metaphor of life as a dance. The steps are:
- Shine the Light – Explore how you respond to change and why
- Choose Your Dance – Identify the transition you want to work on and where you are on your transition journey
- Feel the Rhythm and Learn the Steps – Commit to embracing change in your body rather than resisting it, and begin doing the work associated with the phase of the transition journey you are in
- Practice, Practice, Practice! – Do the work that includes letting go, identifying lessons learned, envisioning the work, relationship or life of your dreams, taking action, and viewing change as a creative process that opens you up to new possibilities
- Consciously Share Your Dance with the World – Observe the positive changes in yourself, how others respond to you, and the positive impact you have on your family, friends, communities and workplaces.
If you’re interested in “diving deeper” into the Art of Change Framework, I encourage you to join me and a group of like-minded women for a fun and interactive one-day workshop “Embrace the Art of Change: From Fear to Freedom” on April 27th in beautiful Victoria, BC. To learn more and to register:
What does change have to do with being an entrepreneur?
- Entrepreneurship is all about change. When you start your own business it’s often scary as you’re leaving a “secure” position to go out on your own to new and uncharted territory. Having a business is all about experimenting. You try one niche and if you don’t get a great response you switch to another. You write copy for a program, product or service, test it, see who it attracts and then write some more and test that. In business we learn from our successes as well as our failures (usually more from our failures). Being successful in business requires being open to learning and growing.
- As we move through the various phases of growing our business, limiting beliefs and unresolved issues typically come up for us. Our inner critic sends us messages such as: Who do you think you are to want a 6-figure income? (related to self-worth); How can you choose such a narrow niche, you’ll have no clients? (related to fear of not making enough money). In order to grow your business you need to address those limiting beliefs and unresolved issues which involves change and transformation.
- Life Transitions and Changes in Business are intertwined. If we are stressed by changes in our business (e.g. breakdown of a business partnership), we often bring them into our personal lives and take our anger and frustration home with us. Similarly, if we are going through relationship transitions (e.g. separation or divorce), we often bring the emotions associated with those into our work. They may cause us to lose our focus, our patience and result in less engagement, lower productivity and more conflict at work.
- Our beliefs about change influence our behaviors related to it. For example, if you perceive change as scary and to be feared, then you will resist it and experience a lot of stress related to it. Whereas, if you view change as a creative process that opens you up to new possibilities, the change experience becomes exciting, easier and faster.
- There is some solace in knowing that we are all hard-wired to fear change. Our amygdala (part of the brain) is constantly scanning the environment to protect us and keep us safe. When it perceives a threat or something out of the ordinary, it sends messages to our bodies to go into fight, flight or freeze.
What happens when we don’t embrace change?
Research and life experiences show that if we don’t learn to embrace change we:
- keep repeating the same patterns in our lives and remaining unhappy and unfulfilled
- expend a lot of energy resisting change
- feel constantly under stress leading to chronic health issues and negative impacts on our relationships and our businesses.
The bottom line is if we don’t learn to embrace change, over time it negatively impacts both our personal and our professional lives.
So how can we reduce our fear of change?
We can reduce our fear of change when we:
- better understand how and why we respond to change
- learn a proven model and tools to help us reduce resistance and embrace and successfully navigate any change.
The more you understand change and the more self-aware you are about how and why you respond to it, the more easily you can embrace and move through it.
Why I’m so passionate about sharing this message
Having been an entrepreneur since the early 1990s, and running three successful businesses, I’ve experienced many changes in my business and personal life and learned some of my lessons the hard way, I know that having tools and processes to understand and embrace change is critical to creating the business and life of your dreams. I’m now called to support leaders and entrepreneurs to better understand and to embrace change. Based on more than 25 years of leading, consulting and coaching with individuals and organizations from diverse cultures on 5 continents, I’ve created the Art of Change Framework. It’s a proven 5-step process that guides and supports individuals and teams to move from fear and uncertainty to clarity and confidence. It makes the change experience fun as it likens the process to learning a dance.
We all need to process change and we do it in different ways and at different rates. When you have an increased understanding of change and how you respond to it, and proven processes and tools to help you to successfully navigate the change experience, it positively impacts your business and your bottom line.
If you’d like to learn more about the Art of Change Framework, here are some relevant articles: http://pamela-thompson.com/strengthen-impact-world-dance-change/ ; http://pamela-thompson.com/important-embrace-change-begin/
If you’re going through a life transition and would like to learn more about it and how to more easily navigate it, I encourage you to sign up for my complimentary Transition Journey Quiz and Tips – http://pamela-thompson.com/about/
I always like to hear from you and how the articles “land” and welcome your comments below. How has change affected you and your business? What tools and strategies have you found helpful to navigate change? Please share the post with others who you think might benefit.
With all the gloom, doom and uncertainty in the world, it’s more important than ever for us to “let go” of our worries and to connect with our inner child. What do I mean by “connecting with your inner child”?
Imagine what it was like when you had no cares or worries, when you felt loved, safe and secure and lived each day from a place of childlike wonder. I invite you to take yourself back to that time and place. What do you see and how do you feel?
I see myself playing with friends in nature; pretending we are pirates and digging for gold in the farmer’s field close to where I grew up. I see myself swinging so high and then jumping off a swing. I see myself running, jumping and feeling so free. I see myself swimming at the family cottage, back and forth between the docks. When I imagine doing each of those activities I feel light, carefree, empowered, creative, energized and curious.
So how can you connect with your inner child and with those feelings you felt as a child? One clue is when I play with my grandchildren. I now have 4, three years of age and under! On a recent visit I went for a walk with my 21- month old granddaughter. It was her first winter of experiencing snow and what it was like to walk in the cold. Initially she had a bit of trouble walking all bundled up in her cumbersome snowsuit. Before long she was almost running, so excited to be outdoors. I drew pictures in the snow and she kept saying “more, more.” I showed her how to blow snow off her mittens as it was too dry to make a snowman. I helped her make an angel in the snow. I tried to put myself in her shoes and see through her eyes of childlike wonder. It was so fun and energizing!
Another activity that connected me with my inner child was in the acrylic painting class I recently started. In the class the instructor encouraged us to try finger painting and to free paint without trying to paint anything special. It was an incredibly liberating experience! For several days after, I felt so connected to my creative side, easily designing a workshop and doing some writing. I felt like I was “in the flow”. My mind was clear and focused.
I really enjoy being in, on or by water. When I’m feeling stressed I find it therapeutic to walk to the ocean (which is close by) and lie on the rocks. When I do this I feel grounded and supported by Mother Earth. My worries fall away and I relax and feel embraced by this sacred space.
Here are a few suggestions of how you may connect with your inner child.
- Try finger painting with no agenda and notice how it makes you feel
- Is there a special nature place close to where you live? Visit it regularly. Bask in its beauty and notice how being there makes you feel
- Spend time with young children; notice and try to reconnect with your childlike wonder
- Spend some time at least once a week imagining a time or times when you felt loved and supported with no worries or cares. Feel those feelings and recall what you were doing at that time. Perhaps begin integrating those activities into your life. It could be a regular hike, walk, drawing …
- Create a sacred space in your home; a place for you that is comfortable and contains a few special reminders of your childhood; e.g. rocks, shells … . Commit to spending time in that space initially for 10 to 15 minutes three times a week and notice how you feel when there and the cumulative effect.
I believe that if we all took the time to reconnect with our inner child and let her or him “come out to play” on a regular basis, that there would be less conflict, less stress, more creativity and more collaboration in our lives, communities and workplaces.
I’d love to hear how you connect with your inner child and what you’ve noticed from that experience. Please share your experiences below so we can all learn and grow from each other.
If you’d like to learn more about how to Tap into and Express Your Creative Side I invite you to read chapter 5 in my #1 Best Selling book “Learning to Dance with LIfe” – http://pamela-thompson.com/books/
In order to let go of beliefs and behaviors that are no longer serving us and to embrace change, whether it be a change we initiate or one that is imposed on us, the Art of Change Framework is a proven model to help you understand change and how you respond to it, and to support you to move forward in your life. It is also helpful for leaders and changemakers so they can be more effective with the individuals, organizations and communities they serve.
In a previous post I outlined this 5-step process for embracing change while at the same time making a positive impact in the world – http://pamela-thompson.com/strengthen-impact-world-dance-change/. In this post we will explore Step 4 in the Art of Change Framework entitled Practice, Practice, Practice! As with learning a dance or integrating any new behavior into your life, it is crucial to practice, practice, practice, so that over time that belief or behavior becomes a habit and more unconscious than conscious.
So what are the key elements of Step 4 in the Art of Change Framework? Step 4 encompasses doing the work that includes: letting go, identifying lessons learned, envisioning the work, relationship, home of your dreams, taking action toward the dream and believing that change is a creative process that opens us up to new possibilities. If we hold that belief it is much easier to embrace change, than if we fear change and resist it.
To illustrate Step 4 in the Art of Change Framework, I’ll walk you through an example from my own life. When my husband was headhunted about 1.5 years ago it came “out of the blue”. We were living in our dream home, with a lake view and able to walk to three wineries from our home. We thought that we would be there forever. The Universe had other plans. My husband was given an offer he couldn’t refuse and asked to begin work 2 weeks after the offer was presented. I felt like the “rug had been pulled out from underneath me”. He moved to the new city, rented a small apartment and began working. I visited him several times, he came home and then I decided to try living in the new place for part of the summer. I rented our home and “dipped my toe in” for 6 weeks. During that time I realized that the new city was beautiful and Alan was enjoying his work, so we made the decision to put our house on the market. It sold quite quickly and before I knew it we had downsized from a 5-bedroom home to a 2-bedroom apartment (The Ending Phase). The first 6 months were challenging (The Neutral Zone). I so missed my friends and the life I had in the Okanagan Valley. For awhile we were surrounded by boxes, trying to decide what would fit into our new place and what to give away or put back in our storage unit. I was upset with the lack of cleanliness of parts of the apartment building we were renting. I looked at other apartments and finally realized that the location and benefits of the place we were in outweighed the cost of moving to yet another apartment. Little by little I started to meet new people, joined several Newcomers Clubs, found a great yoga studio and we began exploring the Island on weekends. A few months ago we decided we wanted to purchase a new home. Alan and I sat down and envisioned the key elements of the new home of our dreams (The New Beginning) and hired a realtor to work with us. I’m happy to report that 2 weeks ago we moved into our new home. It feels so good to be in our own place again! We made the decision not to purchase a home with a yard and instead went for a townhome that is 10 minutes walk from the ocean and 10 minutes from downtown. We love it!
Reflecting on this experience I understood why for me, someone who typically thrives on change, found this move so challenging. I realized that I had lived in the Okanagan Valley in the same home for 8 years, and that was the longest place I had lived since I left home at age 18!
I invite you to reflect on a change that you’ve made in your life, one that was imposed on you and you found challenging. Use the Art of Change Framework to identify the work you have done and to see whether there is more work yet to be done. For example, to let go of anger related to an old boss or partner. In order to move forward in our lives, it is important to learn about change and how and why we respond to it, and to do the work to help us to move toward clarity, confidence, radiant health and true fulfillment.
I welcome your comments and experiences below. Was the Art of Change Framework helpful? Did you glean any new insights? Feel free to share this article with others.
In a recent post – http://pamela-thompson.com/art-change-framework-part-2/, I shared a three-phase model and process called the Transition Journey, and step two of the Art of Change Framework: Choose Your Dance. In Step Three of the Art of Change Framework: Feel the Rhythm and Learn the Steps, you commit to embracing change in your body rather than resisting it, and begin doing the work associated with the phase of the transition journey you are currently in.
To recap, there are three phases in a transition journey: They are:
- An Ending
- The Neutral Zone
- A New Beginning.
There are emotions and work associated with each phase. If you don’t do the work, you often keep repeating the same patterns in your life and remain unhappy and unfulfilled in life and in work.
An Ending is the end of a job/ relationship/ career. The main work of this phase is to “let go” of the old job/relationship/career and to celebrate the positive aspects and lessons learned from it.
“Letting go” is easier said than done. Here are some proven strategies for “letting go”.
- Identify and surface the emotions you have around a current or previous transition; for example, anger at a boss, a previous partner, a friend.
- Release those emotions from your body. When you think about a particular emotion notice any tension in your body and where it is located. It is often felt in your gut or your heart. Think of emotions associated with past hurts and transitions as “rocks in a backpack” and visualize and experience releasing them all from that backpack.
- Forgive yourself and others. This is powerful and often keeps us stuck and holds us back from moving forward. A mindfulness tool that facilitates forgiveness (of self and others) is “Forgiveness Meditation”. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbHKCy4f6Dk for a process developed by Jack Kornfield , a psychologist trained in Eastern and Western Psychology.
- Write a letter to your previous boss, partner, friend from a balanced and empathic perspective. There are always two sides to any story. Reflect on the lessons learned from the experience.
- If you still have anger and strong emotions associated with a past relationship, it is therapeutic to write a letter to that person sharing how they wounded you and what the experience was like from your perspective and then to either burn it ceremoniously or tear it up into small pieces and at the same time commit to releasing the negative emotions associated with the relationship.
In Phase 2, the Neutral Zone, you may feel stuck, angry, confused and uncertain of what to do next. This is the phase when we often second guess ourselves and question our actions. We may even return to the old job or relationship. The main work of this phase is “getting clear”. It provides an opportunity to envision the job or relationship of your dreams. Here are several ways to envision the relationship, career, or life of your dreams.
- Go to a quiet place, outside in nature if possible. Write down what you envision in the relationship of your dreams; e.g. someone who makes me laugh, loves being nature, is physically active, is a great communicator, … . It’s helpful to use the stem I see … and let the list flow out of you without overthinking it. Then imagine you have achieved your dream and imagine how you will feel when you have that special relationship and truly feel it in your body. It’s helpful to use the stem I feel … and write down those feelings; e.g. I feel happy, content, loved, valued … .
- Create a vision board from old magazines or digitally, e.g. using pinterest, of that relationship, career, life of your dreams. It is then important to look at your vision board ideally twice a day, in the morning on awakening and in the evening before retiring, and say to yourself I am so happy and grateful that I’m living a life that includes … . While you’re doing this, feel the positive emotions in your body you will experience when you have achieved that dream relationship/career/life.
I can attest to the power of this process as 1.5 years after I left my husband of 24 years I wrote out all of the attributes I wanted in a significant other and in a relationship. Within 5 months of doing this I met my current partner and “soul mate”.
In Phase 3, the New Beginning, you take action on the vision you created during the “Neutral Zone”. This phase can be likened to a butterfly breaking out of its cocoon and can be a time of real transformation (if you’ve taken the time to learn and grow in the “Neutral Zone”). Think about how you felt when you launched your new business, were selected for that dream job, met the man of your dreams. These are the feelings associated with the New Beginning which fill us up and make us feel happy, healthy, confident and fulfilled.
If you don’t take the time to reflect, learn and grown in each phase, you may find that you keep recreating the same patterns in your life. If you want a life of joy, balance and fulfillment, it is helpful to understand the transition journey process and also to do the work to learn and grow in each phase.
Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll share the fourth step in the Art of Change Framework designed to help you embrace change and create the life of your dreams – one of clarity, confidence, health, happiness, fulfillment and inner peace.
Are you on a transition journey? Did you glean any new insights from this article? I welcome your questions and comments below. What strategies have you found helpful in embracing change?
 From Mary Morrissey and her Dream Builder Program – https://www.dreambuilderlive.com/
In these challenging and uncertain times you may be feeling fearful, sad, angry and uncertain about your future, the future of your family and of the planet. You may be feeling there is little or nothing you can do to make the world a better place. I believe there is much each of us can do to be a force for good in the world, and it’s easier than you think. Learning about change, how you respond to it and how to navigate it, are important skills and tools to have in these challenging and tumultuous times.
Based on more than 25 years of consulting and coaching with people and organizations on 5 continents including living and working in conflict zones and managing uncertainty, I’ve developed the Art of Change framework. This framework is a proven model for embracing change whether it involves getting unstuck and moving forward when change is imposed on us, or whether we choose to initiate a change in our beliefs, attitudes and/or behaviors.
The Art of Change is based on the belief that embracing change is a creative process that opens us up to new possibilities. Think of the times in your life when change was thrust upon you; e.g. you were laid off; or when a boyfriend/girlfriend broke up with you. At that time, you may have felt caught off guard, angry, fearful and uncertain about the future. On reflection, these changes opened you up to a new and better relationship or a position more aligned with your values and talents.
Embracing change enables you to let go of patterns that are no longer serving you and to move forward with confidence, clarity, improved health, happiness, fulfillment, and inner peace.
The Art of Change framework is a 5-step process for embracing change that uses the metaphor of life as a dance. The steps are:
- Shine the Light –Explore how you respond to change and why
- Choose Your Dance –Identify the transition you want to work on and where you are on your transition journey
- Feel the Rhythm and Learn the Steps –Commit to embracing change in your body rather than resisting it, and begin doing the work associated with the phase of the transition journey you are in
- Practice, Practice, Practice! –Do the work that includes letting go, identifying lessons learned, envisioning the work or relationship of your dreams, taking action, and viewing change as a creative process that opens you up to new possibilities
- Consciously Share Your Dance with the World –Observe the positive changes in yourself, how others respond to you, and the positive impact you have on your family, friends, communities and workplaces.
Stay tuned for my next post where I will share more about the Art of Change framework and how you can embrace any change with less stress and greater understanding, and at the same time be a positive force for good in the world.
I welcome your thoughts and comments below and appreciate you sharing the article with others.