A couple of weeks ago my hubby said:
“It’s the right for me to take a work sabbatical. So let’s take this opportunity to go to Europe for a few months.”
Was my first excited reaction.
But I’m not twenty something without life baggage and commitments, and within a nonosecond Jiminy Cricket my conscience was on my shoulder, tweeting.
“So long? So soon? Leaving the kids. Uprooting from home. One suitcase of clothes and shoes. Scratch that – Backpack not Suitcase! No routine blogging. What about the garden? House-sitters to sort out. Too much to organise,” Jiminy yelled.
Yes, I was balking about leaving the existence I’ve come to know with all its various routines, its happy hours and its little troubles. In my head I was turning down high adventure for the life in which I feel comfortable and content on a day to day basis.
It’s true a swish inter-city break or a two week holiday to a luxury resort wasn’t in the offering. No siree, this would entail flashpacking across numerous countries with a degree of discomfort thrown in.
But high adventure. I can do that. Damp towels, hard beds, blisters – yeah I can still hack it! Sightseeing and trains – Yay, bring it on! So what was I worrying about?
How to manage change
I’m no newbie to change. We’ve moved around the world, lived in 11 different countries, uprooted internationally almost every two years when our kids were little due to Dave’s work. So I know that waiting for storms to pass just doesn’t cut it, you have to embrace them and go out in the rain instead!
In reality I don’t think I embraced change all that well when we were moving around, even though we were all managing transition together as a family which meant there was a sort of safety net, although leaving our wider family always hurt.
These days the idea of change leaves me in a bit of a panic – and an unexplained need to hang on to my routines for dear life.
I’m always looking for tips about living the good life as I get older, and getting out to travel is a major ‘good-life tip’ – but within reason!
So I kind of understood when my main response to a wonderful adventure was verging on the negative. It wasn’t the adventure that worried me, it was the overall change that it implied.
Oh and leaving something, in order to gain something else.
Okay dear Lifestylers – I don’t want to minimise ‘change’ as a word. I know some of you will have had to cope with enormous life changes, and huge losses. Today I’m talking more about life transitions which dictate we need to change course in some way … but with some level of choice involved: Moving to a new country, changing jobs, moving house, retiring, becoming a hands-on grandparent, taking sabbaticals … that sort of change.
Out Out Damn Negatives!
One of my expat friends said that her response to change can also be negative. “It’s as if my radar’s turned on, and searching for things that could go wrong, or things that are not going to be quite to my benefit.”
Yes, I get it, and know this is the mindset that blocks acceptance of all the positives.
Reinforced by our surroundings and families
Isn’t it true that at home we try to create an environment which not only makes us feel comfortable and safe but one that helps us manage our life-baggage, helps us structure our habits and allows us to come to terms with our emotions? We’re generally surrounded by people who support the way we are.
Remorse and refunds
Though some changes are eagerly awaited (think new clothes, new houses) they are also often followed by a period of disappointment and regret – have you ever felt ‘buyer’s remorse’ for instance, the day after you’ve bought a house? Or how many of you have bought an expensive new item of clothing, and wanted to take it back the next day for a refund because you’ve felt remorseful! I have! (And coincidentally have a pair of trousers begging to go back to the shop!)
Yes, even longed-for change can come with a price.
How to cope with life change
- Understand that change means letting go of something. But remember that you will generally be gaining something too. So focus on what you’re going to gain.
- Change might mean that you will lose day to day contact with people you are really close to. Devise ways of staying in touch regularly, and let them know how your intentions before you go. Also let them know how important they are to you.
- If you are moving away from your purpose in life, then find ways to take up the reins of your mission again in a positive, even if altered, way.
- Empathise with your inner voice. Listen to what it’s telling you. Understand your concerns, voice what you are losing, and then tell yourself about all the good things that might happen instead.
- Give yourself some choices if you can. The more options you have, the more in control you’ll feel and the energy you put into worrying can then be channeled into decision making.
Do you ever feel like this? Have you had to cope with a change recently? What tips can you offer?
Until next time,