Holding the Space During Change
The last 16 months have been an opportunity to navigate the practice that we, as therapists, believe in and embrace: CHANGE. I will admit that my belief in people’s ability to make changes in their lives is real. My belief that change is opportunity for us to grow and move into new ways is real. My belief that change can be challenging and sometimes difficult is also real. I would not always be the first one to sign up for change. But often we aren’t asked if we want change. Change just sets us in motion down a new path whether we like it or not. I might go, but it might be with some kicking and screaming along the way. I have gotten better at this over the years with my Mindfulness practice as there is the realization that some things are going to happen that we just don’t have any control over. So skip the kicking and screaming and move on to the next steps.
Here are some things I have learned in these past 16 months about realizing that when change is happening, we have choices and when we make effective choices, we can get through the pain and not add suffering to the mix. Although these are not profound thoughts, it seems like an opportunity to share as we move out of COVID times where many people had change and into new times of Post-Covid.
These are some of the steps I have had to utilize with constant reminders to myself during 2020 and 2021.
If we don’t have anything we can do about the change, then move to acceptance. When acceptance can wiggle its way forward, we emotionally can put the fight to rest. (less suffering). We can help ourselves by a daily reminder that we have choices in how the day will go and can step into those choices to walk forward in the best way possible. Perhaps initiate a mantra such as, “Today is a great day to be alive,” or “I am blessed in so many ways.”
We can be aware of the changes, embrace the emptiness of loss, and hold the space for that emptiness for the new to come in. Realizing and labeling the emptiness is helpful. Calling it what it is gives us footing. It reminds us that being uncomfortable right now is probably normal and expected. Let it be uncomfortable. Don’t try to take the uncomfortableness away too fast. Continue the steady beat of the belief and trust that all is well. Even in the uncomfortableness of emptiness, hold the space and wait for the new that is to fill the emptiness. Watch for the signs of what the new is to look like. Be open to thinking and seeing outside your old comfortable ways. Expand your thinking and your vision.
Don’t panic. This goes with the idea that every day you make a choice to have the best day you can in this moment. When there is loss of something, it is natural to think about the worst possible scenarios. Do the opposite. Sit with the trust that all is well.
Don’t rush to fill in the emptiness. Let the loss permeate deeply. Appreciate the loss. Let the emptiness be for a moment. Lean into the uncomfortableness of the emptiness. Label it as such. Rest in it in a steady way. When change happens, and loss happens, give it the reverence it deserves. Appreciate what was, find gratitude and also be curious as to what the loss clears way for in the new.
COVID brought a lot of changes regarding our therapy team, how we do therapy, and what the new ways may be that we had never even had a picture of before. We never realized that Telehealth could be our primary way of functioning for 14-16 months. We never dreamt that this might also be the new norm and that some people would prefer it after having had no choice but to do it. We never knew it could be so effective, as effective as in-person. We missed each other terribly and found ways to connect in new ways. We miss the old ways.
We continue to embrace the emptiness of change and look for signs of how the new ways will expand our ability to continue our mission of bringing mental health services to our communities. Our communities are spread out among Nebraska with our remote sites in Broken Bow, Kearney, Ord and Grand Island. With Telehealth, our therapists are spread out around Nebraska including Omaha, Lincoln, and northern areas like Sargent, Merna, Albion and have even ventured into the Denver area. Who knows what holding the empty space of change and loss will bring for new growth and new birth? We are holding the space and stepping into new ways and new growth. We are grateful to continue to serve our communities and bring the much needed mental health services to Nebraska.Tags: accepting what is, holding the space of emptiness, Leaning into change, pain versus suffering
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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