There’s no right way to process change


Many of us here in the U.S. are struggling to cope with our feelings about the results of our election this week.

One of the themes I’ve noticed over the past several days, for myself as well as clients, colleagues, and community I’ve connected with is something like this: I’m not sure how, or when, or where, to express what I’m feeling. 

I’ve heard several people say — as soon as a few hours after the election results came in — “It’s time to move on and stop talking about it.”

Whoa! This is big, for all of us (including those who are happy with the results of the election). How about allowing ourselves a little time to process this change, if that’s what we need?

I’ve also noticed myself feeling compelled to respond to others’ pain when I had nothing left in me to give. I’ve felt both comforted and exhausted by social media posts. I’ve wanted to grieve and process alone, and then very quickly wanted to grieve and process with others.

I’ve noticed that there’s a difference in feel between those who seem to want to hurry on to avoid what they’re feeling, and those who want to move on to create positive change without dwelling on what’s done. And probably many of us are experiencing all of the above.

I have so much compassion for all of this. When we’re hit with big change, each of us will respond based on our past experiences, who we are today, our unique temperaments, and the way we’re wired.

The bottom line for me: I want to feel safe, and I want others to feel safe. I want to be kind, and I want to honestly express what I’m experiencing when and where that feels safe and necessary to me. I don’t want to trample on anyone’s beliefs, and I need to honor my own.

I can care about you and disagree with you. I can love you, and need to process what I’m feeling in a way that is quite different from your way.

What if, as long as we are not intentionally hurting anyone else, it’s okay to process big change in whatever way we need to process it? As quickly or as slowly, as outwardly or inwardly, publicly or privately? With lots of talking it out, lots of contemplation, or a combination of both?

What if whatever we need is just okay? And what if, by open-handedly giving ourselves what we need, it helps us feel okay with others taking care of themselves in whatever way they need to as well?

I write a lot about self-care here, and how we really can’t totally separate self-care from other-care. What if the ultimate act of self-care is gentleness toward ourselves when we’re just not quite sure what we need? And that, in cultivating this gentleness toward ourselves, we’ll be better able to extend it to others as well?

How do you know how to best take care of yourself — and respond to the needs of others — during challenging times? Do you tend to move through big changes quickly, or do you need to process more slowly? I’d love to hear from you.

Above image © Madartists | Dreamstime Stock Photos

6 thoughts on “There’s no right way to process change

  1. I think you said it best. It’s a process, and since we’re all different, that process will be different too. And that’s okay. When someone else doesn’t want you to do that, it’s about their comfort- not yours. And that’s not okay. This is huge, and it doesn’t mean that others don’t care about you when they want you to “get on with it”, but it is about recognizing that sometimes you have to stand up for your right to be who you are, regardless of how comfortable it makes someone else. Comfort is not the key here, healing and processing is. And that changes for each person individually.

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    • Kathryn, yes! So well said. It’s interesting how humans have a need to push away that which makes them uncomfortable, including the healing and processing of others. Self-care is taking a stand sometimes, for sure! Thanks for weighing in — hugs. 🙂


  2. Wise and timely post Jill. I agree with all you say, and want to appreciate your acknowledgement (often missing elsewhere, or offered in an unhelpful way) that there are those who are happy with the result. I see and feel a deep, deep need to really listen. I’ve missed something, obviously, someone and something has gone misunderstood and I have to loosen my own position enough to listen – because for sure I want to be listened to, so hey…let me start with being the listener! I also notice, from a self care perspective, that what this has made me do is acknowledge the true size of my circle of influence, so I can expand it from inside out. What can I do in my own immediate surroundings to promote deep compassionate listening, care for others, celebration of difference etc etc. And when I get angry I need to find, in myself, those parts/seeds in me which even if they haven’t grown into certain manifestations, exist all the same, and may well have grown similarly had I been brought up in different circumstances. I have fear, I have judgement, I have unkindness…they’re all in me, but I have been lucky enough to grow up surrounded by a lot of love, in safety, with all of my basic needs being met – that’s massive! And now I choose, very consciously, who I surround myself with so I can aspire and grow. Maybe that’s the invitation from all this – time to step out of comfort zones, and really understand those who are not in our immediate like-minded circles. I’m sure I could learn a lot. Blessings all – Harula xxx

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    • So beautifully said, Harula, and I’ve learned a lot from your post! I have felt so similarly, and I love how you describe the “true size of your circle of influence” and how you can expand it “from the inside out.” Yes — I totally agree that deep compassionate listening is key here, and looking for other ways we can have an effect in our immediate daily lives. I’ve noticed myself getting triggered in ways that perhaps before I wouldn’t have questioned much, even by people who “agree” with me but approach the processing part differently. Definitely a call for learning and openness from all — and it’s challenging, for sure. Thanks for your wonderful insights here! Hugs.

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