While most people love adventure (in varying degrees), we all also crave a degree of certainty. We love to rest in the familiar – to stay in our comfort zones. The ability to sink into what we know and let it form around us like memory foam brings us a sense of peace and well-being. I call this “memory thought”, and while we would all love to drift off in our memory thoughts and dwell there, change happens. It is inevitable. It is also, in fact, often necessary.
Sometimes the changes we experience in life are good changes and happen by our choosing – a new car or house, a significant relationship, an exciting career opportunity. However, there are also changes we’d rather avoid, ones we would not choose – the loss of a job, an illness, the death of a loved one. Good or bad, many changes involve a long and involved period of adjustment, uncertainty, anguish, and/or distress. They require attention and energy outside of our comfort zones and threaten to swallow us whole. These are changes that often numb our senses and cause us to stick our heads in the sand, passively avoiding reality.
Robyn Sharma says, “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” It’s that “messy in the middle” that we’d all like to sidestep. It’s uncomfortable, painful, no fun. Yet it’s the only path that produces the “gorgeous at the end” outcome we desire (and deserve).
In my book, MESSY, The Imperfect Journey to Self-Awareness, I spend part of a chapter talking about “sitting with the unknown”. It’s that period of time that we sit in our confusion, anger, or sorrow and wait. We reject the fast paced pseudo-fix, accept the change that is happening, and wade through the “messy” – allowing ourselves to grieve well – and we wait for the good to come.
Several years ago I went through a divorce, a change I wouldn’t have chosen. The week the divorce was final, my house burned down; and suddenly I found myself alone, without a home, and financially unstable. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. Initially, I chose to deal with it by numbing my emotions. However, over time, I learned to settle into the changes that were taking place and wait for the good to come. I learned to sit with the unknown. I can now look back and see a lot of beauty that came into my life out of those messy hardships.
Change is hard because it just gets so messy in the middle. We feel lost, vulnerable, and disoriented and want to run back to what we know. Research has shown it takes three months for a new neurological pathway to develop to allow change to begin to feel somewhat normal. Therefore, we have to be intentional in allowing that to take place. If we insist on going back to the old, we are unable to develop those neuro pathways.
So, if you’re in the middle of change or want to make a change, give yourself grace. Know it’s an intentional act that you must choose. Sometimes it doesn’t feel good, but don’t let those feelings interfere with what you ultimately want…. the “gorgeous at the end” part.
We all know, my dear friends, we are going to struggle with the “messy in the middle”. However, if we are intentional in waiting for the good, we can look forward to the “gorgeous at the end”. I wish for you a “gorgeous at the end” life.
Be Aware and Live Intentionally,
Nancy S. Kay