Apart from death and taxes, it is said, the only sure thing in life is that change is always occurring, whether we realise it or not. Sometimes things are changing to more of the same, sometimes to something quite different.
In his classic business book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” Dr Spencer Johnson illustrates the various ways in which we adapt to change as he tells the story of Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw. These four fictitious characters represent parts of all of us. Sniff seeks out change early. Scurry hurries into action. Hem denies and resists change for fear of what it will bring. Haw learns to adapt in time and to understand that change can lead to something more. All of us react in all of these ways at different times. Dr Johnson’s message is that while change is inevitable, we do have some control over how we experience it.
In every change there is a loss and a gain. In each year end, there is a new one beginning. Every time we let go, we make space for something new to emerge. How do you react to changes that arise in your life?
Do you, like Sniff, anticipate that change is going to come some day and keep your eye on where to move to next? Fear of what’s around the corner can keep us in constant motion, afraid to allow the riches and blessings of now. In relationships, for example, some find it hard to stay present to what is happening, always looking for “Where is this going?,” the plan or the goal. Others find it hard to commit to relationships at all, fearful of the pain they will feel when it inevitably comes to an end.
Do you, like Scurry, avoid the loss of what is past by rushing into the action necessary to move to the next step on the road? Do you find yourself asking “What can I DO about this?” Do you allow yourself to experience the sadness of letting go of what is past? Are you so focussed on taking action that you have lost touch with your feelings?
Are you, like Hem, holding onto situations or relationships that no longer serve you, in the belief that what might come will be worse than what is? Or that if you let go of what is, there will be nothing more for you? Do you get stuck in decision making, afraid of opting for one choice or the other, in case you get it wrong?
In time, all of us, like Haw, learn to adapt to our new situation, whatever it may be. There is no right or wrong way to react to change, but like learning a new skill, it can be more difficult for some than for others.
It always takes time.
 1999 Vermillion