PUBLIC TRANSFORMATION – When you must change and you can’t leave
I had a call today with someone who seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth for the past several years. I left messages for her and I asked around as to what she’d been up to; and although I knew she was alive, I didn’t know what happened.
After our cordial beginning, the call lead to a deeper, more meaningful conversation. Like, ‘where have you been’? She generously shared the reason she ‘disappeared’. It seemed that she was re-inventing herself. You may have heard of the word. You may have even re-invented yourself at a time or two. Since I too have fallen off the face of the earth a couple of years ago, I really identified with her and our conversation went more smoothly than those I have with people who don’t understand what’s happening to me. Some think I am in a depression or had a nervous breakdown. Some think I am sick with some terrible disease and I can’t tell you what others are thinking, but I can certainly feel that it’s not a supportive energy. I’m so glad I am beyond child rearing years or they might think I went away to have a baby!
There are people who just don’t get transformation. Transformation: An act, process, or instance of transforming or being transformed. A complete change in the appearance of character of something or someone. Synonyms: metamorphosis, overhaul, reconstruction, renewal, revamp, remake, rebuild… well, you get the point.
As a teenager, I remember telling my father that I wanted to ‘find myself’. Coming from a home that was wonderful but didn’t support nonconformity, I wasn’t in touch with my own thoughts, desires or creativity. I yearned for it but didn’t have the environment to develop in that area. My father was not mean. He was just old school and wanted to keep me protected and he thought that meant keeping me sheltered. So, whenever I said I wanted to ‘find myself’ he let me know emphatically, that I was being ridiculous and the statement was meaningless. hmm.
If you’ve read any kind of celebrity news, I am sure you’ve heard of child stars or even adult stars who were stereotyped and had to resort to drastic measures to change the way people saw them. Sometimes they would disappear for years until they resurfaced as the new them. Then there are those who we watched go through it publicly and awkwardly.
Transformation is not easy to say the very least. And those of us who feel a pull to shift into the new and unknown version of ourselves go through a myriad of feelings, fears and resistance. The unknown is so scary but we are sure that we need to go there anyway. Our lives, our future, our spirit, our reputation, and every ounce of our being depends on it. We dig deeply into our souls, we journal, we ask questions, we practice innovative ways, we test, and we look to see if it feels ‘right’, then we continue this cyclical process until we have it right. Sort of like a recipe that you create, mix and bake. When it doesn’t seem just right, you start over – rinse and repeat.
Now, couple all of this pushing, pulling, twisting and churning and confusion while standing in front of friends, family, co-workers, even strangers? It’s like a freak show. The people around you who feel safe with the current you, are now panicking because you look, sound, dress or act differently. They don’t recognize you and if that’s not bad enough, they will not recognize the new you that you are testing out tomorrow.
What occurs is discomfort for all. They don’t like it at all and you, well, you feel thwarted and hesitant to keep going. You don’t want to hurt ‘them’. You can’t even explain your circumstance to them so, you might resist upsetting the apple cart, and you resign to stay ‘the same’. This inevitably pains you even more. Imagine a chick who can’t hatch or a butterfly who is held back from breaking out of its cocoon. It can’t be a positive outcome.
So, what does one do when they must change and have nowhere to do it privately. There are many avenues available to support your change, I’ll list a few below. But remember that your way is the best way. Choose the way that resonates with you. Use the list below just to help prompt that.
- Accept – Accept that you are about to embark on a journey that most people in your life aren’t going on. That doesn’t make you wrong, it makes you unique in your world, but not unique in THE world. Millions of people facilitate their own transformation.
- Soothe them – If you are going to transform in front of those you care about, it’s best to find the language that would help soothe their concerns. Let them know that you are in the process of changing and growing yourself. Your intent is that it will have a positive outcome for everyone. You are not sure what that means or how long it will last. Ask them to either support you or give you space. Let them know what supporting you looks like. (3 hours alone every week, or don’t ask too many questions or just ask them to trust you) Let them know that while you can’t always explain what you are experiencing, you will keep some sort of communication line open for them to ask questions.
- Seek – Look for paths to do your work. Will you need to go on a physical journey? While some go to India to work under a spiritual master, most people can’t. It’s OK, you can transform from anywhere. There are those who make due by going on a local retreat or silent weekend. Some begin to practice meditation and yoga. The idea is to look for the level that you are on and begin from there. For you, just journaling may help at first. For someone else, they want to catapult into their new phase and might do something much more extreme.
- Allow – Resisting this pull to change can be more uncomfortable and it will likely take longer to complete. If you start by allowing your process to evolve each day, you will find it a more pleasant experience.
- Patience – It’s not likely that your transformation will be complete in a moment. Depending on the level you want to shift, the time that you put into doing so and how much ‘allowing’ you are able to sustain, everyone’s experience is different. Be prepared for weeks, months or even years to fully complete. Some go through this regularly, because they are growth oriented and others may do this only once or twice in their lives. So be patient, not only with yourself but your progress and lack thereof.
- Alone Time – Begin to set aside time for you to be alone with yourself. That means, not only separate yourself from people, but your pets, your electronics and books. All distractions if possible. Unless you are reading or listening to something about personal and spiritual development, stay away from any outside influence.
- Move – Your body will begin to build up pockets of emotions that you’ve been holding on to and are now ready to be released. For instance, you may decide that you no longer want to be afraid of flying but you can still feel a pain in your neck when you think about it. Take time to gently and intentionally breathe through moving your neck or your entire body to move the stuck energy through and out. Find an expressive dance or just stretch and bend. Don’t let the negative feeling stay inside if you can help it.
- Soothe yourself – Ok, so you’ve learned to soothe those around you. Now it’s time to soothe yourself. What that means is, when things aren’t moving the way you want, learn to reassure yourself, or find someone who understands and can support you. Before you even need it, write down a few key phrases that you can turn to when you need to soothe yourself. Sometimes we forget why we are on this journey at all. So, a few reminders will help. ‘I’m recreating myself to be better at ______’. I deserve to know myself more deeply’. ‘I am tapping into my soul’s purpose’. Find your words that align with your reasons.
- Look backward – when you are working on your transformation, the road before you will always look long. You don’t know if and when the ‘end’ will show up and you don’t know what will be asked of you on that trip. One way to measure your growth is to look backward. Find a few vantage points to keep in your memory. Compare yourself to where you were last week, last month or last year. Take note of the progress. You may even want to document it for future feelings of despair.
- Play bigger – There is a reason you are going through your transformation – so that you can CHANGE for the better! There will be a lot of opportunity to continue to play small even with the new you. You may still be exposed those who gossip, drink too much or those who aren’t up to the same things that you are. If you can’t or don’t want to move beyond these people, you can at least be the influencer. For now on, you get to make a difference in their lives instead of them dragging you down. Play big, act like the leader you are. Make a difference!
If you are going through a transformation, use these tools to help you along. Get support when you need it. There’s nothing like having a seasoned individual guide you through the ups and downs.
Remember that your attitude makes an enormous difference. Here’s to the new you and a smooth ride!
Fran Asaro is a Life and Business Coach helping Women Entrepreneurs from the inside out.
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