April 30, 2020

Navigating Change with Acceptance and Discernment

As the world gets prepared to ramp up again, I’ve been thinking a lot about what things will be like. Will we be going back to “normal”, or something completely different? Or something in-between? It’s human nature to wonder about the future, so I’m sure I’m not the only one.

If you find yourself stressing out about the possibilities, I have some thoughts about how you can minimize your anxiety, and maybe even find peace of mind. Practicing acceptance and discernment are the keys.

The first thing to remember is that change is happening all the time. The pandemic is a circumstance (a fact that we can’t control) similar to many other circumstances that we humans have to deal with all the time. Circumstances don’t dictate our future, our thoughts about them do.

Socrates said it so well in this quote, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting for the old, but on building the new”. 

Focusing your energy on building the new becomes easier when you begin to notice, and manage, your expectations and preferences (what you believe will happen and what you want to happen). Remember, your human brain wants you to remain safe, too much variance from normal and it sends up the red flags. 

But what happens if your expectations don’t match reality? You feel bad. And, If that gap is large, it will cause a lot of stress, anxiety, anger, and even depression.

Managing your expectations becomes easier as you practice noticing them play out in your life. You can do this by being aware of when you feel minor disappointment. Like when a movie that got rave reviews turns out to be a total dud. It’s a silly example, but if you acknowledge that you were disappointed because of your expectation, and if you’re able to lessen your disappointment because of your awareness, you’ll begin the process of developing acceptance (allowing what is to be as it is).

Another thing to keep in mind is that expectation, preference, and perception (how you take in what’s happening) are all influenced by the types of information you consume. If your information sources are all saying the same thing, biases are formed very quickly.

Once biases form, they build. What you notice, you attract more of, so it’s extremely important to be aware. Be sure you’re exploring a variety of news sources (not just mainstream media). Investigating opposing views is a good thing. There are always at least two sides to every story. Do your own digging. Put the pieces of the puzzle together yourself. Once you’ve gathered the information, run it  through your three brains—head, heart and gut—to come to your own conclusions.

In case you aren’t aware that you have three brains, it’s a real thing (I didn’t make it up). Basically, your head brain deals in logic and intellect, your heart brain deals with emotions and dreams, and your gut brain deals with instinct and intuition. You’re subconsciously using these three brains all the time in specific situations, but using all three consciously is the key to building discernment. As this skill builds, you’ll find you aren’t swayed by the sensationalism that’s everywhere in the media.

Practicing acceptance and discernment builds emotional intelligence. As we head back into the world, those who are leaders and future leaders will be the ones who can navigate whatever changes come about with calmness and poise. Are you up for the challenge?

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