“Though your destination is not clear, you can trust the promise of this opening; unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning” -John O’Donohue
I've been thinking a lot about change recently. It’s been an ongoing theme on my Instagram account and I’ve been reflecting on how change has been showing up in my life.
This John O'Donohue quote brings to mind an image of a cat waking up lazily from an afternoon nap. She stretches her body, awakening her muscles and bones. Preparations begin to launch into her afternoon adventures.
What a perfect way to approach change in our own lives. We can unfurl and stretch ourselves into newness. A quick Google search of unfurl brings up this definition:
Unfurl: make or become spread out from a rolled or folded state.
To unfurl is to open. When we open we allow ourselves to receive something new and different. How can we step into change in an open and unfolded state?
Sometimes, I think we would rather hide under a rock than open ourselves up to change. However, when we open ourselves up to change we invite the opportunity for growth and a new perspective. In fact you might find yourself in a much better place than where you started.
We can unfurl and stretch ourselves into newness.
I recently challenged myself to explore a new social media platform, Clubhouse. I'm not a social media native. I’m not a tech innovator or early adopter. In fact, I'm incredibly uncomfortable with most forms of technology. I didn’t start using email until my residency program stopped sending out paper notifications and threatened severe consequences if we missed any announcements.
For those of you unfamiliar with Clubhouse, it’s a new audio platform that allows users to gather in real-time in “rooms.” (Sorry, Android users, right now, Clubhouse is only available in iTunes.) The people who create the rooms get to decide what to talk about.
It took me a couple of weeks after I received the invitation to sign-in. I hopped on the platform, put some effort into creating an appealing profile, and slipped into my first room. After a couple of days, I found myself “raising” my virtual hand and being invited onto the virtual stage to share some thoughts. A week later, I even managed to cohost a room and actually enjoyed talking to others about some of the difficulties of today’s medical culture.
So what did I learn from inviting a new way to engage with social media into my life?
Here are a few of my takeaways:
#1 Sometimes change means unfolding in ways that are uncomfortable
There was nothing comfortable about the thought of trying to understand yet another social media platform. I continue to struggle with Instagram, gave up on Twitter a long time ago, and rarely venture onto Facebook.
Clubhouse is designed in such away that you are engaging with people in real-time. That means that carefully planning and curating how you want to show up is challenging.
Maybe you struggle with the uncertainty that change often brings. Thoughts of change can trigger fear and anxiety. The discomfort of the known might seem preferable to the uncertainty of the unknown. You might worry that you won’t be able to manage those uncomfortable feelings. We often feel like we won’t be able to cope when things don’t work out exactly how we planned. We forget that often, growth is difficult and uncomfortable.
#2 I can do hard things
Although there was some initial discomfort when I logged into my account and joined a Clubhouse “room”, I realized that it was discomfort that I could tolerate. The fear and anxiety that comes with stretching into an unknown space is something that I know I can handle for short time.
I'm sure you've experienced moments of fear and anxiety in your own life. Yet here you are today reading this blog post hopefully not experiencing the same level of discomfort that you did at that time.
Eventually, uncomfortable emotions go away. We can all do hard things. It doesn’t mean that it will be easy or feel good. But, when we allow ourselves to stretch into discomfort, we often discover wonderful gifts on the other side.
#3 The thing about change is that often something better is on the other side
I discovered something pretty amazing about this new social media space. I actually really like it. I still feel a bit like a visitor in a foreign land. But I've enjoyed expanding my experience with technology and growing in ways that were unexpected. I've also appreciated the fact that I was able to sit with some discomfort and unfamiliarity in service of my growth and development.
What ways is change inviting you into a different version of yourself? Is there something that beckons you to unfurl and open that you've been resisting or avoiding? What steps can you take right now to invite change instead of running and hiding to avoid difficult or uncomfortable feelings?
If you want to practice start small.
Try a new recipe.
Try a new exercise routine.
Consider asking for a change in your work hours so that you can have more time at home with family and friends.
The more you allow yourself to experience the discomfort of change the better you’ll get at sitting with and managing the emotions that come up for you.
I get that change, especially big change, can be tough. If you're a woman physician ready to take on a bigger change but feel like you can need a little support, I've got your back. Feel free to contact me to explore whether or not 1:1 coaching could be right for you.
Otherwise identify one small thing that you can do differently today and start your unfolding and unfurling.