A Different Way To Think About Adapting To ChangePublished March 28, 2021 by Sheila Anne Murray
We worked quickly in small teams, using a shovel to break trees free from the ground, place them into wheelbarrows, wheel them over to the newly dug hole, and replant them with care.
It was my senior year at university, and there were about 15 of us students out on a university-owned plot of land. Our job was to replant trees in an area where they could grow into more space, and in more fertile soil.
“And now we must give them a whole lot of water, to help with the trauma of being transplanted,” my professor said.
“Trauma,” because trees don’t love being transplanted. In fact, arborists use the term “transplant shock” when they discuss the problems that arise when trees are replanted somewhere new. It doesn’t matter if it’s done with care, it doesn’t matter if you whisper to the trees “don’t fret, this experience is actually for the best!” The reality is - reestablishing yourself somewhere new, especially after losing the majority of your root system, is hard!
Are we much different?
How We Adapt To Change
Consider the discomfort that happens when you are in the midst of change such as embarking on a new career, going back to school, an unexpected pivot, a breakup, moving somewhere new, suffering a loss, experiencing a new beginning.
It is our nature to resist change. We want to keep our footing, hold onto our roots, know what happens next. We so often yearn for change but when it comes we balk. Breathing into new life and feeling our way into new places can catch us off guard. So much so that we look backwards, try and return, fear we could be lost, reach for the familiar.
It’s exactly what our hearts have been crying out for - something different - though the discomfort and uncertainty was not what we expected.
Just as trees, change can feel traumatic. We may crave more comforts, waver in our confidence, and in many cases think we are not enough to inhabit this new space.
How To Reframe The Challenges Of Change
Take a moment to feel the earth beneath your feet. Notice it is lush, fertile, spacious. Promise that you will explore this new land with curiosity and self-compassion. Understand that this is a time you may need more nourishment, more patience, more love. Acknowledge that discomfort is a normal part of the process, and soon you will feel just as at home here as you did in the space that you outgrew. And then it may be time to move again. Again and again you’ll replant yourself, slowly settle, then blossom and thrive.
Because we are meant to leave the places we’ve outgrown. We are meant to be supported by lush earth and spacious land. We are meant to explore new lands, grow into new spaces, strengthen our resilience, and trust our power to thrive once again.
Journaling prompts for change:
- What is one change am I currently experiencing?
- How am I responding to it?
- How would I like to respond to it?
- What do I need to feel aligned with this change? (Types of nourishment? Compassion? More resources? Greater self-belief?)
- What might be the gift within this change?
- How can I continue to keep the big picture front of mind?
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