Thursday, 4 August 2011

Everything must change

This is a blog I wrote this month for Jayne Cox, the body image consultant who is currently running a wonderful campaign to help women cope with cancer. I thought I'd repost it here because the central message - about adapting to changes in circumstance - applies to the many twists and turns that life takes.....

There’s a song by Nina Simone that starts:
"Everything must change.... nothing stays the same"

It’s a beautiful haunting song.

One line goes, "There are not many things in life you can be sure of..."

A poignant reminder that everything changes. 
Our ideas shift. Our moods swing. People come and go. The weather changes. So does fashion.
Our bodies get sick. Friendships are gained and lost. 

We live in a world where nothing stays the same. And sometimes it’s hard to hang on to anything that will offer us security and protection. But there’s one lesson we can learn from nature. If you adapt, life is so much better. And that means letting go of old ideas and ways of being, and becoming more flexible.

Flexibility is key to coping with change, to having a good life and meaningful relationships. A flexible person is one everyone wants to be with. They don’t make unreasonable demands on others. They’ll go with the flow and still smile through it. They let go of the past easily and embrace change.

Faced with one of life’s crises, such as cancer, flexibility helps a woman cope with the fears and frustrations. She can adapt to the present reality, even though it may not be the reality she had planned.

Because reality knows nothing of your plans. It will come up with ever new ways to frustrate and frighten you. If you can’t adapt to the new reality you may be stressed, irritable, hostile - perhaps overwhelmed, grumbling, resisting.

That leaves little mental and emotional energy for dealing with what matters. Relaxing rigidity and expectations will help you to yield to others without getting too depresssed or upset. It also gives new space to those around you to express what they are thinking and feeling.

In our behaviour change work we give people who are coping with change a new mantra. Do Something Different. 
Because, in a changing world, if you’re still trying to hang on to old ways of being you might come crashing down.
Instead you can adapt and flourish.

Nothing has to stay the same. If you always loved classical music, try blasting out some rock. If your wardrobe was sensible and conservative, wear something wacky. If you were a shrinking violet, get gobby and voice your opinions. Wear odd socks. Give more hugs. Dance under the stars. Give some money away. Sing loudly.

If anyone says, “But you don’t…” be ready to say, “Well I do now”

Times of change are also times for reinvention. Don’t be afraid to use this time to become the person you always wanted to be.



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