Monday, January 24, 2011

Change -- a journalling exercise

Monday, January 24, 2011

Some people say that change is one of the few things we can count on. In any case, change affects us all in different ways at different times and in different circumstances. Sometimes we like change, such as when an unpleasant person becomes more pleasant. Sometimes we don't like change, such as when we have to move away from a beloved home. And no matter how we feel about it, we change often in the course of growing up and getting older.

Set aside some time to consider how you have changed in the last five, ten, or twenty years...and what affect those changes have had. Think about the changes you consider to be "good," as well as the ones you think of as "bad" or "negative."

First, write down all the big and small changes you can think of. Decide how many of them you want to look at closely. One? Three? All of them?

Then, for each change you decide to examine, answer the questions below, taking time to muse and remember:
  1. Was the change fairly easy to deal with, or was it hard?
  2. Did you react to this change differently than ususal?
  3. If you resisted the change, what did you think and do in your resistance -- refuse to discuss it, get really busy, take out your feelings on others? How did you feel -- afraid, satisfied, angry, resentful, excited, willing, sad, ashamed, etc.?
  4. If you accepted or enjoyed the change, what did you feel, think, and do to help the change occur?
  5. How did the change affect other people? How did you feel about those affects at the time?
  6. At this moment, how do you see the change and its results? What do you think and feel about it? Do you feel differently now than you did when the change occurred?
Self-evaluation like this fosters growth and healing. It provides opportunities to understand the nature of change and to embrace, or at least accept it, as a natural part of life. Through self-examination we find wisdom and forgiveness. Our fears can diminish because we learn to see change as a normal process.

You might have uncovered old feelings of guilt or shame while doing this exercise. This isn't unusual, and it doesn't mean you're a bad person. It means you're human. We're very good at burying unpleasant feelings, often because we don't know what to do with them at the time we feel them. This journalling exercise gives you a chance to re-examine your difficult feelings; the gift of time might have given you new perspectives or emotional skills. Use these to help yourself understand and deal with old pain. You might find help in earlier posts I've written. To read more about dealing with guilt, click here. To read more about dealing with shame, click here.

If you have trouble coming to terms with past changes, feelings, or actions, I encourage you (as always) to talk with a trusted friend or counsellor. Sometimes another person's perspective can be very helpful.

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