What is Your Relationship with Change?
By Lori Radun
In our home, my youngest son Ian is working on changing a long-standing behavior. For years, Ian has had difficulty falling asleep on his own. What started as a fear of the dark and noises has turned into a real anxiety about going to bed at night. For a long time, we, as Ian's parents, further enabled the behavior by lying down with him until he fell asleep. Well, now Ian's parents are tired of this habit, and we are trying to bring about some change in the bedtime routine.
My husband and I share the bedtime adventure, and last night was my night to put Ian to bed. We started with a warm bath to relax him, and normally we would read together in bed before going to sleep. But last night Ian lost that privilege because he wasn't being a good listener in the bathtub. So at 8 o'clock I put him in his bed with some books, attempted to tuck him in, and gave him a kiss goodnight.
Our new routine includes keeping the light dimmed in his room and me sitting in the middle of my bed reading in my room. If Ian stays on the left hand side of his bed, he can see straight down the hallway to my bedroom. Ian has the belief that he needs to see us to fall asleep (even though most of us sleep with our eyes closed). Well, let's just say that Ian does not like this new change he is faced with, and he is resisting with everything he has.
Everything I suggest to Ian to make this transition easier, he resists. After an hour of psycho-babble and resistance, I decide to follow his energy. If I don't, I am convinced I will surely explore with anger. So, when he says to me "I can't fall asleep" for the 20th time, I said "Then don't go to sleep. Just stay up all night. Don't close your eyes. Keep them open." Ian resisted that idea too, so guess what he did? He went to sleep!
As human beings, we are faced with change on a regular basis. How we respond to change largely determines how happy and successful we are in life. While our relationship with change varies depending on the change, it is still vitally important that we are consciously aware of our tendencies. By maintaining an awareness of how we are responding to change in our lives, we can actively create the life we desire to live.
Following are five relationships with change. See if you recognize yourself in any of these:
The avoider lives in denial about change. He or she is oblivious to change that needs to take place. When change is presented, the avoider will do whatever is necessary to stay away from change. Denial is a self-protection mechanism that protects us from pain. The avoider sees change as painful, therefore believes that if the pain is ignored, it will eventually go away. It is normally a strong external circumstance or person that shakes the avoider up and propels her to change.
The resister may understand that change is needed, but she will fight with change. The resister can come up with a million reasons why ideas won't work. My client recently shared an experience she had with her mother. Her mother is constantly complaining about all the clutter in her home, and not having enough time to deal with it. In an effort to help her mom, my client made several suggestions, including offering her assistance to help her organize and declutter. Every suggestion was met with an excuse, and change did not take place. The resister is gaining more perceived benefit from not making change, and therefore will remain stuck until those benefits are resolved.
Similar to the resister, the talker will talk about all the change she wants to make, but rarely backs the talk with action. Until recently, I was a talker when it came to decluttering my house. I would complain about it. I would talk about how important it was to me to simplify and live with less. I would lecture my kids and my husband, but I always found something more important to do. Talking about change is a positive step in the right direction, but without action, change will not take place. Thankfully, I have finally graduated from the talker phase and backed my talk with my walk. (You can follow my decluttering journey on my blog.)
The fizzler is good at recognizing change that needs to take place. She can talk about what she is going to do, and she will even make a plan to take action. The fizzler will start off on her journey towards change like a sparkler. Full of fire and energy, she jumps wholeheartedly into change. Then the fire starts to die, the energy begins to fizzle, and the sparkler dies out. The fizzler may start and stop with change. Sometimes she's successful and sometimes she gives up.
The embracer wraps her arms around change. She sees change as an opportunity to do things differently and make life better. She is a lover of learning and thrives well with change. Although she recognizes that change is not always easy, she possesses the perseverance to stick with the ups and downs, the emotional strength to manage her mental mindset, and the attitude to make the most of every opportunity.
So what change would you like to make in your life? What unsolicited change is taking place around you? What change would you like to see take place in your family or in this world? And what is your relationship to that change?
Lori Radun, CEC is a certified life coach for moms.