(This blog was originally posted on June 17, 2014)
|Image courtesy of Microsoft|
One of the most popular tourist attractions in London, England is watching the changing of the queen’s guard at Buckingham Palace. The Changing of the Guard is an elaborate ritual that occurs with military precision—of course, the guards are soldiers—that serves a practical purpose as well as a symbolic function. It occurs several times each day when one group of soldiers goes “off-duty” and the new shift comes on. After all, nobody can be expected to work indefinitely at peak efficiency and skill without sacrificing the quality and/or integrity of the person, equipment or project in question. At some point, a physical and mental break from the task is necessary, or you risk the entire system breaking down.
You likely have experienced a version of the Changing of the Guard in your life, too. Perhaps the owner of a company where you worked has retired, or the company where you work gets a corporate overhaul. Your new boss wants to make sweeping changes to the ethos and philosophy of how business will be done from now on: it’s up to you and your colleagues to tow the corporate line to continue working there. In another scenario, if a parent gets a new job in another city or state, the entire family will probably pack up and move, too. The parent(s) will have to find a new place for the family to live and the kids will probably need to change schools. Or, if you and your partner go separate ways, it will be up to each of you to review and revise your expectations about which habits, behaviors and/or attitudes you will (and will not) tolerate in your future relationship(s). Unlike the previous examples, you will probably have more autonomy to determine what you will do next and when you will do it. Furthermore, you will be equipped with the wisdom you garnered from this relationship to create a more successful and lasting partnership with someone new.
Like the Changing of the Guard, we must all adjust and even recalibrate specific aspects of our lives to adapt to the changes that invariably occur around us. Like the soldiers of Queen Elizabeth II’s palace guard, many times we don’t have a choice about how or whether to respond to a change; we simply do as we are told when we are told to do it. It is easy to follow these directions because these behaviors are likely already established knowns in your subconscious mind. If you have been doing a task or series of tasks over and over at work they are familiar, comfortable and even easy for you. This familiarity may even be comforting to you, since you know how to do “x” and have achieved a certain level of competence or skill in performing that task. However, when you are faced with a new situation or circumstance, the comfort of its familiarity is missing. Your new responsibilities are unfamiliar, unknown and painful. Even though the relationship is over, now that the person you are used to relying on for support, companionship and advice is no longer in your life, the absence of this known paralyzes you. You don’t know what to do, but you know you need to keep moving.
Whether we consciously know or are willing to accept or agree with the apparent purpose for the changes that occur in our lives, usually they are to our advantage. Our reflexive, knee-jerk reaction is to dislike or disagree with something new because it is unfamiliar and unknown. Yet, once we get used to that unknown—doing that new task, learn the company’s new rules, give ourselves permission to let go of a previous failed relationship—the rewards of this change typically exceed our expectations. For example, I was sad and annoyed when Jay Leno retired as host of The Tonight Show. I liked his jokes and humor; he was the late-night host that I knew best and felt comfortable with. Eventually, I accepted that it was time for Mr. Leno to retire and that NBC executives needed to change the guard in their programming to remain a competitive network. Of course, I’m glad, now, that I was able to accept this new change, because I found a “new” favorite late-night host in Seth Meyers (whom I already knew and liked from his stint on Saturday Night Live).
Personal growth and change are part of live and living. Even when all you want to do is stand still and keep doing what you have been doing all this time, force yourself to take a step forward and move out of your comfort zones. Look at it this way: these life challenges, or changes of the guard, are really opportunities for you to examine, evaluate and change/improve aspects of your life that aren’t working the way you want them to.
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Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy®, please visit http://www.calminsensehypnotherapy.com/.