Change has always scared me, as it does so many others...regardless of species. Yet, for some, change is welcomed and even encouraged. Is our point of view on change genetically hard-wired in us, or is it something that we can learn to accept and, dare I say, even love? The dictionary defines the word metamorphosis as, "a change of form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one by natural or supernatural means." For an amphibian, or insect, this change occurs when the transformation occurs from an immature form to an adult form in one or more distinct stages.
But, personally, I don't this type of change is limited only to insects and amphibians. I see it happen in humans, too; all the time. And it's not necessarily going from childhood into adulthood. This metamorphosis can occur at any stage of life. Usually, when any change occurs, it is scary...even when we are actively working to transform ourself, as with weight loss or by becoming more physically fit. Change, whether emotional, physical, or spiritual can be difficult and frightening, but it doesn't have to be when we approach it with a seeing eye and a compassionate heart.
When change occurs, it is both an internal and an external experience. Some change affects us more profoundly than others. But, in truth, we are constantly moving towards something, which means that we then must move away from other things. And while this move is going on, we pass a few tipping points...highs and lows in the transformation process, that we must gracefully accept if we are to continue to move forward. The Dharma Frog explained to me the seven steps we must go through for any successful change to accur.
1. Awareness - This happens when we realize that something is no longer working for us as well as it use to. The awareness of this shift can be subtle, or it can strike us like a blow to the head and heart. However this awareness comes, it begins a shift in our thinking that there may be a better way for us.
2. Discovery - This happens, so says the Dharma Frog, when our conscious mind locates the source of our discontenment and starts to alert us that a change is necessary. For most of us, this discovery is met with resistence from our ego. If the ego's voice is loud enough and strong enough, our path to change can be cut short. But rest not. If we don't change now, somewhere down the road, it'll come on us again. It'll keep hitting us over the head until we can no longer ignore the message. Better to deal with it now.
3. Ownership - Here, we need to take responsibility for our discomfort. It is in this step that we need to accept that our feelings, habits, perceptions, emotions, limiting beliefs, or faulty reasoning needs to be adjusted. This is a powerful, and crucial step, in realizing our metamorphosis.
4. Exposure - This is where we expand our search for the emotion, thought, belief (etc) that is faulty and needs to be changed. This can be, of course, a difficult challenge for logic doesn't very often come into play when we're dealing with emotions. Too, we tend to think that our "beliefs" are facts of life and are set in stone. They are not. We need to find a gentle way to convince ourselves that these old habits and ways of viewing things isn't good for us.
5. Intention - Once we have identified our problem area, and accepted it, it's now time to choose a direction to move in..or the personal growth that you want experience. Carpe Diem. Seize the day and the opportunity for change. All that's left is to formulate a plan of how to make those changes occur.
6. Action - Don't think that things will become easier, just because you've identified (and accepted) the area that is causing you problems. That won't be the case. In fact, your discomfort will become more acute, with your greater awareness of it. Ignorance is bliss, and all, may be true but no one ever became smarter by refusing to learn. Taking action is the only way to re-establish internal harmony.
7. Integration - Now that you have your new belief system in place, it's time to integrate it into your everyday life. Find new ways of doing things; find new ways to think about things; find new ways to solves old problems and correct bad habits.
I think that there should be an eighth step, however. And that would be to think of change as positive. ALL change can be good, even if it's not immediately obvious. Learning to accept that change will occur...no matter how hard we try to stop it, can be difficult. By accepting the changes that occur in us, and working with those changes, it will be far less painfel than letting the change happen on its own. Each of us must take control of our own destiny. Just ask the tadpole who sees his metamorphosis as the end of him. He may see himself disappearing, but the rest of us sees a beautiful and colorful frog emerging. This new frog will have his own unique identity to give to the world. And that is truly a beautiful thing to behold.