Carrie Brooks is a professional life coach and author, who lives in Greenwich. This week, she talks to Weekender readers about the importance of change.
‘Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.’ Barack Obama
We are all aware that life is a constant series of changes and that nothing remains the same, but why is it that we so desperately hold on to what we know and resist change? As a life coach I assist my clients with change in their lives, either with something that has happened to them, loss of a job, partner etc or they are feeling so stuck they wish to go ahead and trigger a new change in their lives for themselves. However for most of us change is very challenging.
The reason that we resist and fear change is because we are stepping right out of our comfort zone and into the unknown. We find ourselves being pulled in to two opposite directions. One direction is the need for security, to know how our days are going to be, to feel safe and secure, while the other direction is the human need for challenges, new adventures and deep personal fulfilment.
The need for security encourages us to remain firmly entrenched in our comfort zone, resisting change at all costs and therefore being very vulnerable when external forces inflict change upon us. Remaining in our comfort zone however does lead to frustration, boredom and a feeling that life is just passing us by, and the stark truth is that, it is. There is the famous quote ‘life starts outside your comfort zone’ and indeed it does. Do you remember the feeling when you have overcome a challenge in the past, been courageous and done something new, learnt a brand new skill? This is the feeling we crave, it’s the one that makes us feel truly alive and this only happens when we step outside of our comfort zone.
This doesn’t have to be a huge, big, massive change, it can be achieved in incremental steps, however there does have to be a sense of forward motion, a commitment to each step which provides the confidence for the next one. Each step, once accomplished, will bring the satisfaction, sense of achievement and fulfilment we are all looking for in our lives.
We need to understand that the human capacity for change is amazing. Our brains are wired to change and grow, it’s called neuroplasticity, simply the brain’s ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. We are wired for change!
To better explain, I would like to share the experience of one of my clients, Rachel. Rachel lost her job and her long term relationship came to an end, all in the same week and when she came to me she was in free fall. Gripped by fear and despair, feeling that the very foundations she had built her life upon had all just crumbled away. With our coaching sessions she slowly began to reconstruct her life and gradually learnt to embrace these new changes. I encouraged her to step back and look at her life ‘bigger picture’ as I call it, what did she really want her life to look like in 5 and then 10 years’ time? By asking yourself these two simple questions, it assists a person to step back from the everyday minutiae that tend to consume our lives and gets us to refocus on our lives as whole.
Rachel began to realise that these perceived losses were in fact an opportunity to rebuild her life as she wanted, an opportunity for a fresh start. She chose to make the positive change, to view the loss of both her job and relationship as not an end but as an exciting, brand new beginning. A brand new chapter. Once Rachel started to see things differently, in a fresh, positive light, she became accustomed to the feeling of being outside her comfort zone and was fueled by a new desire to create the life she truly wanted.
One year on, Rachel now has her own successful business, something she had always wanted to do, and also enjoying a new relationship. She is grateful for the changes that caused all the upheaval, because they gave her the opportunity to make new positive choices and to prioritise being truly fulfilled and happy.
Stepping outside our comfort zone and going with the flow of life’s changes just gets better with practice. It starts with the choice to see change as a positive force, one that enables us to take stock, make new decisions and live fulfilling lives. Change happens. It is a constant. How we deal with it is the difference between riding the waves or being swept away by the current.
What’s your choice going to be?