Breakdown or Breakthrough? The Hidden Gift Behind Change
Ever wonder, as you’re going through a difficult period of change, whether you are on the cusp of a breakdown or, if you’re lucky, a breakthrough to a better place?
It’s that ‘darkest before the dawn’ phenomenon we’ve all experienced during a transition.
It took me a long time, but I finally understood that change isn’t the enemy.
It’s simply a process that helps you move through the inevitable learning cycles of life like childhood. It may not always be done gracefully or happily, but there is always a benefit, at some level, to your personal growth.
Since the spring season has just begun, it seemed especially appropriate to bring its messaging of re-birth to this topic of change, something that we, as a nation and as individuals, have been recently experiencing at an extreme level.
One of my favorite examples of re-birth is the amazing process of metamorphosis that a caterpillar goes through to become a monarch butterfly.
The word metamorphosis is literally based on the Greek word meaning “transformation”. For caterpillars, their entire physical and molecular being is transformed during the chrysalis phase, where it literally dissolves into itself and re-emerges as an entirely new form of the butterfly.
Talk about a party trick! Wow! You can’t order that on Amazon!
Change in our path to growth
So, it’s not hard to parallel the caterpillar’s transformation to how humans experience change. Change is our metamorphic path to emotional, psychological, and spiritual growth too! After all, one generally can’t maintain the status quo and simultaneously create growth, right?
But, it sounds painful, doesn’t it?
Well, unfortunately, it’s meant to. Meaningful change is usually derived from pain or discomfort because we tend to remember those lessons longer, and more profoundly, than the more pleasant experiences.
Think about the biggest changes in your life. The ones that had the most impact on who you are today. Were they largely derived from happy memories or from experiences of fear, loss, sorrow, lack, rejection, abuse, or some other painful memory?
Painful experiences do serve us, however, in that they remind us to take a different path if a similar situation arrives again at our door. They are protective in intent and help us say “No thank you! No more of that kind of experience please!”
What happier experiences provide is a positive contrast to the discomfort or fear associated with change. They’re usually our reward, what we work toward and dream of.
But, why does it take so long to get back to the joyful times after a particularly difficult period of change?
How do you view change?
For the lucky butterfly, their entire transformation only takes nine to fourteen days to complete. Our human metamorphosis, on the other hand, literally takes a lifetime. I guess that’s a win for the caterpillar or we’re just slower learners!
But like the caterpillar, we can create our own evolution by consciously opening ourselves up, being a willing participant in the process, and paying closer attention to what change can provide us.
It always comes down to perception, a concept I’ve spoken of many times on this program.
Many cultures associate the butterfly’s metamorphosis with the concept of the soul and view it as a representation of endurance, hope, and life. It’s perceived as having an active and positive role in the evolution of all forms of life in the world.
As with the butterfly, we all have a beginning and an end, it’s what we do with the middle part that makes it worthwhile.
It’s through our actions, thoughts, and focused intentions that meaningful metamorphosis takes place in our lives and it’s occurring every minute of every day.
How you view change, then, has everything to do with whether it benefits you or holds you back.
How can we ensure we're on the path to breakthrough vs. breakdown?
Well, first, it’s important to understand that change isn’t meant to be threatening or harmful.
If you can accept and surrender to that process and see it as a positive force, it will tend to offer more opportunities for life-affirming benefits than you can possibly imagine.
Benefits that include a life that is more fulfilling, meaningful, compassionate, and giving.
Secondly, surrender to the process you are experiencing, then stand back and observe. By observing instead of immediately reacting, you’ll give yourself space to see the bigger picture and be more open to the opportunities that the change may be trying to bring to you.
Surrendering isn’t always easy, I know, but its alternative, resistance, can only make the process of transformation harder and longer.
Surrendering isn’t saying “Go ahead, kick me while I’m down!” though. It’s meant to say “I still have choices and I’m going to stay open to the potential here, whatever that may turn out to be”.
Resistance is a guaranteed path to an unwanted breakdown. It’s an active refusal to things you haven’t even been offered yet. Often, when we’re entering a phase of change, we only see a fraction of what that change can bring to us.
Learning to go with the flow
Our imaginations can’t possibly create all the scenarios, positive or negative, that change can bring.
Instead, it’s best to allow the experience to slowly provide that narrative to you as you go through the process so you can make choices more intelligently. But, you have to listen and stay present.
Third, give it time.
We’re a society that loves getting from Point A to Point B in a flash. Somewhere along the way, we moved from appreciating the slow and steady to insisting on instant gratification.
While being in an uncomfortable situation for long periods of time isn’t on anyone’s wish list, the duration of any challenge or change should not be the focus.
If we’re to learn and grow, it’s going to take an investment of effort, focus, and a whole lot of patience. Instead of trying to rush the process, accept it and allow it to guide you to the answers you need at the right time and place.
You’ll be surprised to find how much easier the answers will come if they aren’t forced into an expected timeline or preconceived plan. Sometimes the most interesting options crop up when you aren’t trying to force something or someone to act on command.
Understanding that change is simply the Universe giving us a heads-up that it’s time to explore and grow can make the process much easier. Allow it to be a positive instrument of transformation, instead of a burden to bear.
So, my friend, as I always say….stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong!