5 Steps to Grow Through Challenging Change


5 Steps to Grow Through Challenging Change

At times of significant change, we can either survive or find a way to thrive.  That might sound too optimistic when we have just been massively uprooted and many things seem upside-down, uncertain, and risky. As humans and leaders, we crave some certainty, good news, and light at the end of the tunnel to be able to lead and navigate forward. The truth is, while darkness is challenging, light in the darkness is more needed and shines more brightly. Our ability to be a light in this challenging time is important and will not only help us adapt better but also be an encouragement to those around us.  It gives you hope and inspires others as well. As we focus on this light, we find a way to THRIVE.

Consider yourself as a plant. At different stages of a plant’s life, different events happen. While a plant is happy and thriving it grows and reaches the limits of its container, it gets replanted, and its “environment” changes. The plant undergoes stress and shock. It was unexpected and not really understood. Why did this have to happen? It was performing so well in the place it was! Suddenly everything is different and the plant struggles to regain strength and health. Humans are often the same when we arrive at an unexpected change. The habits for health are also similar. What a plant does to recover from shock and uprooting change, is similar to what we can do during times of strain.

Here are five tips on thriving in the midst of change.

  • Step 1: REPLANT.  When change comes, we often crave to stay in the same place where we had grown comfortable. The desire to do this creates pain as we long for yesterday and things to stay the same. We grieve the passing of this season and wish it could return. In contrast, when we are able to accept and embrace our new “container,” we become aware of this new space to grow and thrive.  While being “transplanted” is painful, it helps to have a growth mindset in the process. The more you can open yourself to opportunity and possibility, the more you will find new gifts, space, and room to expand.  What do you need to let go of or grieve to accept and embrace this new place in time?
  • Step 2: Strengthen your ROOTS.  The human mind craves security.   We scan the environment for threats and are vigilant to create certainty and safety.  We want to feel and be grounded, especially in times of uncertainty. Stress comes because the roots we had spread and counted on are now unstable (economy, health concerns, job, daily routines, etc.) Know that while initially there is shock from a transplant, this “change” forces you to look at things differently.  Through the unwelcome and uninvited change, you can actually expand and have stronger support than before.  Your life, the plant, can actually have a stronger trunk, leaf system, and flowers.  It might feel overwhelming to have so much new space that doesn’t seem very needed right now, but like a plant that settles in and takes root, you are very capable and non-restricted to grow and thrive.  Part of the growth is to see where you might have been weaker or more vulnerable and grow into this new way of being with greater support in new ways (connecting virtually more often with people further away than you did when you saw people in person, greater efficiency with remote ordering, better health, and fitness plan, etc.). You will adapt and actually become more stable than you were before, even though it doesn’t feel like it now.   In this process, it is critical that you allow yourself to stay grounded. This means being present in the moment versus regretting the past or worrying about the future. Practice deep breathing. Clear your mind of racing thoughts and urgent feelings.  Help your mind to become calm and centered. Use music, readings, or guided prompts to help still your mind (mantras, quotes, scriptures, etc.). Movement, like going on a walk, stretching, yoga, etc. can help to move the energy in your body. These practices, put together in your own routine, can be great structures for a daily grounding routine.  Your goal is to get yourself rooted and secure. What grounds and centers you? In what ways has this new reality made you better? What are you learning through this and how is it expanding you in ways that are good? 
  • Step 3:  NURTURE.  Humans are created for connection. The mind and body need it. Nurturing your heart is often about connecting with others, showing love, and receiving love. Find something positive to share and focus on to cultivate happiness and joy.  Who can you connect with? How can you nurture your relationships?
  • Step 4:   WATER.  Fuel yourself with water. Literally and figuratively. Water is actually huge for our body to get nourishment, but also watering can represent what you fed yourself. Are you listening to media and negative sources or do you find ways to surround yourself with positive sources?  Positive sources are things that give you energy, joy, excitement, etc. Pay attention to what you are putting in so you are fed with health and not toxins.   What are you taking in that is healthy and nourishing?
  • Step 5: GET SUN. This is about your environment. When you put yourself in surroundings that fuel strength, purpose, meaning, and significance you grow. When you are in surroundings that keep you in the dark, you struggle to grow. What environment supports you the most? What can you change or adapt in your environment to support light?

Realize in this process there will be some shock as the plant adapts. It is natural to have emotional and physical reactions.  You might experience feeling more tired, drained, and exhausted, others might feel less motivated or inspired, while others might feel a sense of spinning and indecision. Feeling sadness, anger, frustration, irritability, fear, etc. is common and just something to be patient with. Continue to be present, acknowledge your feelings, and re-center your thoughts.  You might need to adjust what you are doing. Sometimes more grounding, nurturing, water, or sun is needed, and sometimes less is needed. Each person is unique and different and when you see signs of health and thriving you know you are in the right rhythm. Don’t make rules about how it has to look. Be dynamic and flexible allowing each day to be a new assessment, inventory, and response.

You will get through this. Habits of health will help you to be more resilient and less stressed in the process. Don’t wait. Doing these habits daily starting now is important. We don’t always realize the strain or malnourishment we might be under until we have already sustained a good amount of strain. Know that in a time of change, it is normal and expected that stress happens. It is part of a “change” process. Fighting it creates more stress. Learning how to be present with it will allow you to navigate it with more grace and ease. Always easier said than done, but you can do it!