Unexpected change can be difficult for the human psyche to fully embrace at first. It overwhelms our emotional and cognitive freedom, so to be able to work with it, we have to understand its inevitability and the silent transformative power that lies within us.

Changes come in many forms: minor interruptions, life-changing trauma, when one is forced to adapt to uncertainty for a period of time, or anything that we deem out of our control or cause for panic.

Unanticipated events force us to ask the question, “Can we really do this?”, and that alone opens up a door into our world which we wouldn’t have been able to explore otherwise. “Can we process these difficult emotions? Will we be okay after this is over? Will it be over?” The answer to all of this is: yes. And in recognizing this, we discover a new level of self-empowering trust in our capabilities.

We can forget how incredibly resilient we were built to be. When we begin to slowly accept that suffering need not be our last resort, a quiet force that we’ve been denying begins to resurface within our psyche as if to stimulate an outlook we weren’t previously accustomed to.

“Research has shown that, indeed, much of what seems to promote positive adaptation despite adversity does originate outside of the individual — in the family, the community, the society, the culture, and the environment. Further research has led to the concepts of resilient reintegration, whereby a confrontation with adversity can lead for some to a new level of growth, and, for some, to the notion that resilience is something innate that needs only to be properly awakened.”[1]

While it is basic human nature to fear change, the most balanced people are those that discover there can be other forms of stability available to us, such as that of substantial self-discovery generated by unprecedented, sometimes undesired, events.

We love listening to and reading about people who have encountered challenges that spark something inside of us, reminding us that possibilities beyond our current fearful perception of the world can exist.

Stories of people that, if not for a catalytic life event, probably wouldn’t have found what they were searching for their entire lives and could possibly be their own sense of self. 

Uncertainty might be a catalyst to help us be more present in our lives. Changes could bring a greater appreciation of life, more self-esteem and connectedness to others, [and] a renewed sense of meaning and purpose. [2]

For example, anxiety is a common emotion sometimes induced by an unexpected phone call or awaiting an outcome that might ultimately determine the fate of our wellbeing. But if we’re present with those triggering emotions of anxiety or fear, we’re present with ourselves and for ourselves.

We must begin to understand that attempting to obtain total control of our external environment is an illusion and goes against our nature as adaptable human beings, and also that, without knowing, we are perfectly built to not only be able to process unwanted life events, but ultimately transcend them.

Diana Fosha, psychologist and author of Undoing Aloneness and the Transformation of Suffering Into Flourishing, mentions that during the transformational experiences emerging from processing difficult emotions, her patients recovered their sense of core self, increased resilience, a renewed zest for life and meaningful connection. [3]

None of this is to say that one should expect painful changes in order to experience some newfound level of self-awareness, but it does shed light on an approach that seems to get lost on us when we find ourselves having to deal with the unfamiliar.

Changes in our health, mental stability, and our socioeconomic status, are all factors that, if triggered, play a role in diverting our attention back to ourselves, and if we choose to transmute it like a craftsman turning clay into a beautiful porcelain pot, we re-emerge better than we’ve ever been before.

Knowing with conviction that we are adaptable in nature, might also be the catalyst for us to move mentally, spiritually, and perhaps even physically to a place we’ve never been before. A place where our ability to discard habitual patterns of reactivity can be experienced, a place where we’re not always prepared for the worst, but prepared to show up when we are at our best.
It’s time to celebrate who we think we are, to acknowledge that we weren’t born helpless in the face of challenges but rather, we can rise up to become more, because of them.

 

~ Maryam Al Qasimi

 

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956753/
[2] https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience
[3] https://www.apa.org/pubs/books/undoing-aloneness-transformation-suffering-flourishingsample-chapter.pdf