The Constancey of Change

At the beginning of November, the temperature was unseasonably warm reaching up to the low 20's. In mid-November it had dropped to unseasonably cold temperatures dropping into the minus teens with wind chill. Now that we have hit the last week of November, the temperature has returned to its seasonal average somewhere between those two extremes, at least for now. Yesterday was raining, today it's overcast, and sunshine is forecast for tomorrow. When referring to weather in this part of Ontario, I have heard someone say, "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes, it will change."

One thing our four distinct seasons, and even our day-to-day weather, should have taught me by now is the only constant in life is change. And yet I will somehow mistakenly believe whatever situation I find myself in or whatever feelings I am currently experiencing will remain the same, indefinitely. But my memory is short, which, when it comes to the seasons, can be a good thing because I am astounded every year by the miracle of flowers blooming and trees budding and every year, I am awestruck by the beauty of glorious fall colours. However, when it comes to the situations and feelings I encounter, my short memory works against me.

During a troublesome experience or while dealing with difficult emotions I can wrongly conclude I have now entered an unchangeable state during which I must spend the rest of my days in unspeakable suffering. Somehow the trouble always finds a way to some resolution and my difficult emotions are processed and pass to the next set of emotions. The lesson of the constancy of change is reenforced and remembered, at least until the next time it is forgotten.

Unfortunately, the situations and emotions I have encountered do not always change as quickly as the weather has changed in November, but they do change, eventually. As I reflected on these times in my life, I have come to two conclusions: 1) things will change, even though the desired change may not happen (e.g. sickness does not always lead to restored health, sometimes it leads to death), and 2) it is important to discover ways to cope until things change.

If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation or experiencing difficult emotions, be assured, things will change. If the change is within your control, you can find ways to precipitate the change. However, if it is beyond your control you may need to simply wait for the change to occur. While you wait there are things within your control such as: 1) whether you accept reality as it is or vehemently deny it, and 2) finding and using strategies to cope with your own feelings.

As you traverse the hard terrain, I encourage you to do these three things: 1) rely on your supports to get you through, 2) seek out professional help if you need strategies to help you cope, 3) remember, this too shall pass.

Chip Bender, Registered Psychotherapist (qualifying)
Interfaith Community Counselling Centre

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