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Process of change

There is nothing permanent, except change. We know that, as we live in a constant flow. Yet, we keep resisting it. We fear it. Maybe because we often fail to see it as a process. A process we can understand.

There are many concepts that describe change, how it comes about and unfolds. Let's start with a graphic, called the Kubler-Ross Change Curve. This simple picture shows the complexity of the process of change which goes through several stages bringing various, often contradictory emotions. We may be full of joy and excitement in one moment and sad, frustrated or angry in another. Regardless if the change is our own decision (I quit my job) or somebody else's (I'm fired), it will never be just a straight line to success. Steps back, doubts, regrets are a natural part as much as the grief and moments of depression are. Even if we change for the better, for example leaving behind a not satisfying job to upgrade it for a more attractive offer, there are still things we need to grieve about. Every decision we make, everything we choose means other paths won't be taken and those also need a moment of grief. Without proper grief it's difficult to create space for the new to come and have all the energy focused on experiment, decision and integration. What may help are small rituals. Maybe an evening with your diary to note down what you are grateful for and for the conscious choice of letting it go. Maybe a ceremony with the fire in which you can burn what you don't need anymore. Maybe a farewell party with those you care the most about. Accept all emotions which want to be heard. They all come for a reason.

This is, let's say, the analytical way to see change. But we can also describe it as a story and call it the Hero's Journey. Yes, yes, it is the same frame many of the myths and books and hollywood movies are based on. And that shouldn't come as a surprise: the stories we read or watch catch us exactly because they reflect our personal experience, our own process of growth and transformation. Change is a kind of adventure, and it usually starts with a call - the phone call to Neo in the Matrix, Gandalf knocking at Bilbo's door, or the more familiar radio alarm in Groundhog Day?!? -.  We may be scared at the beginning, hesitate, or we may be full of excitement, but anyway exposed to some obstacles and trials to check if we are really ready to cross the threshold and go for the unknown. There will be people on the way helping us (the Oracle, Lady Galadriel or maybe that history teacher...), appearing unexpectedly once we decide to go for it. But there is also a dark cave waiting for us, a tough moment in which an old part of us has to die to make space for something new to come. And it's not an easy step. Before we started to travel around the world Anna's dark cave lasted for two years. Two years of lower mood and uneasiness, with not much joy and lots of doubts. But without a cave there would be no transformation, without facing dragons - our fears and shadows - there is no real change. Only on the other side of the shadow there are treasures and superpowers with which we can come back to the usual world. And then... take another ride again.

Joseph Campbell created the Hero's Journey studying myths which inextricably involved male heros: Osiris, Prometheus, Moses etc.... Pressed by his student Maureen Murdock about women's part in the story he said: “Women don’t need to make the journey. In the whole mythological journey, the woman is there. All she has to do is realize that she’s the place that people are trying to get to." And as many women are not really satisfied with Penelope's role, Murdock created an alternative path, the Heroine's Journey. As much as the Hero's Journey is based on analyzing myths and legend, the Heroine's Journey is a conclusion of years of working with women during workshops and therapies. It says that being a part of the patriarchal system, women need to give up on their feminine side in a very early stage to be able to survive. And then they go through a classic Hero's Journey only to realise at the end that it didn't bring them the deep satisfaction, it didn't truly nourish their soul. And here is where their unique journey starts - the journey of reclaiming the feminine part and integrating it with masculine. Reading the Heroine's Journey book twice Anna keeps finding names for many of her own experiences. Try it, maybe you also find something there for yourself.

Whichever concept of change is more convincing for you, one thing is clear: change is a process. A process in which you go a few steps ahead only to find yourself two steps back again. A process full of joy, but also fear, excitement but also grief. A process which requires its time, recognition and often support from others. A process which can give a lot of frustration and anger and even get us stuck for years or being a beginning of growth and self development, a mirror to get to know ourselves better. Change is here. And it will always be. The only thing we can do is to accept it, to learn and grow with it, not silencing anything on the way. Easy? Totally not. We still struggle ourselves, still fight against, still not always recognise which stage we are and what it requires. But there is a treasure waiting there, on the other side of the cave. And this we already know. 

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