So far in this series of How To Fully Step Into Change we’ve looked at understanding our preferred pace of change in order to appropriately design our test drive , and a different way to think about our priorities in order to gain clarity around distractions, disruptions and how to protect what’s most important to us.
The last element we’ll discuss has to do with the way we think about ourselves within our change. In short, how we identify with it.
When we transition to change, the way we think about ourselves is often the last to catch up. Sometimes it never does fully catch up, and that’s one of the reasons our change doesn’t stick.
But don’t fret, for there are ways to formalize this process in a way that more clearly defines the beginnings as well as the endings present within our change.
There are two stages to aligning our identity with our change:
Letting go of the old (you).
As the saying goes, no matter where you go, there you are. Except in this case, in order for you to evolve with your change, you have to release the you of the past in order to make room for the new, improved person you strive to become.
This doesn’t mean discarding old memories, or forgetting where you came from. But it does mean making a clear intention to think about yourself differently. To shift out of the old thought patterns that may have served you well in the past, but are no longer relevant to the new, improved you of today and beyond.
Here’s how to do it:
Accept your past as foundation of who you are today.
Recognize, appreciate and accept yourself as you are right now. Remember that it’s our past experiences that led us to where we are today, and which provide the springboard for where we want to go with this change.
Releasing ourselves of our old identity isn’t about forgetting our past. It is our past that in many ways defines us.
But hanging on to old patterns of thought and behavior because we feel some sense of loyalty to those ways of thinking and being, will hinder our ability to progress.
To accept ourselves means to let go of those things we’ve been clinging to in favor of a change for the better. It also means to continue to appreciate the role those things had in getting us to this point where we can now let them go as we create a new version of ourselves.
Make it official. You are no longer the person of your past. You are leaving that person behind as you embark on the adventure of becoming a different version of the person you once were.
Say farewell to your former self, because from now on they only exist in your memories.
Here are some ways to make it official:
Allow yourself to grieve.
Not all goodbyes are happy ones. We may be closing the books on our past, but there may be times when it's hard to let go of certain aspects of ourselves, even when we know it's necessary in order to move forward.
Letting go doesn't mean we forget, but it does mean we have to allow those emotions, attachments, and dysfunctions of our past pass through us. This allows us to step forward with a fresh, clean slate.
If we don't allow ourselves to appreciate and grieve the loss of these things, even if they were counter-productive to our previous change efforts, they will stay with us until we've fully accepted that they are no longer necessary.
We might have clung to certain stories, behaviors and mindsets. They became a part of us. But in order to progress and allow change to truly happen, those things we’ve clung to that no longer serve us will have to go.
Allowing ourselves to grieve the loss of those parts of ourselves we’ve come to depend on like an old, slightly dramatic friend, or a long, dysfunctional relationship, gives us the freedom to truly cut the chord once our grief has run its course.
Transitions represent our journey from one part of our lives to the next. Graduations, Weddings, Rights of Passage are some examples of celebrating important life transitions.
Even if you don’t consider your change to be as big of a deal as getting married or finishing school, intentionally creating closure is a great way to say goodbye to the old and welcome in the new. And, it makes it feel official. Like a true transition instead of blindly moving from one point to another as you adapt to change.
The farewell party mentioned above is one way to formalize your transition. Another way is to write all of the things about yourself that are no longer relevant with this change, and burning the document with the intention of releasing the past and opening yourself up for the you in formation.
Celebrating the steps you are personally taking to evolve into your change is not just a great motivator, but also a confidence builder and an opportunity to fully focus on the next step; embracing the new, which will be covered in our next post.
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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