Wanting things to go back to “normal,” also known as “the way things used to be,” is one of humankind’s most basic and universal tendencies. There’s comfort in the familiar, especially when you’re looking backwards. But by learning to embrace change, you can bring much more joy into your life.
I see proof of this desire to return to the past on a near-daily basis. Often, I’ll hear my clients remark at the beginning of our first session together, “I want to feel the way I used to feel,” or, “I want to get that spark back from when my partner and I first met.”
By learning to embrace change, you can bring much more joy into your life.
While these feelings are valid and understandable, they don’t always serve us. In the words of analytical psychologist Carl Jung, “Life has always to be tackled anew.”
It’s a beautiful reality, when you consider it: Everything in the universe is in constant motion, expanding exponentially, and our psyches are no exception. Trying to recreate an idealized point in your past not only summons feelings of frustration and insatiable nostalgia, it also ignores the fact that you’ve evolved since that time in your life. You’re a different person than you were before—whether it be last year, last month, or yesterday.
Trying to return to a moment or feeling from the past simply isn’t possible as the person you are now, since you would experience even identical circumstances differently.
In each moment lies an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.
This may sound discouraging, but it’s an empowering concept if you can accept it, because it means that in each moment lies an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. We know that from one day to the next our world may change greatly, for better or worse; yet we, too, are always adapting, shifting, and evolving with the flow of the universe. Nothing is static. In nature, organisms that do not successfully adapt to a changing environment atrophy and die.
Life as we knew it was flipped upside-down by the coronavirus pandemic, and it may be awhile before things return to “normal.” Most of us know on some level that this will be a “new normal” that will look a bit different than before.
We are always adapting, growing, and evolving with the flow of the universe.
Life always has to be tackled anew.
Just as we cannot recreate the past as our current selves, so our societies cannot function precisely as they did before this global upheaval. Sure, things will feel strange as we adapt to a new way of living. For many, the path of change is paved with mourning and grief of lost loved ones.
For some, the path towards change is paved with mourning and grief of lost loved ones.
But perhaps some may be able look back at times during quarantine with some degree of nostalgia. For many of us, it was a forced but in ways welcome pause from the daily grind as we finally got to turn inwards and take time for ourselves and our families.
As we continue to make sense of the new world ahead, we should remember lessons from the pandemic—one of which is that the only constant in life is change, and therefore something to be embraced.
Your Turn: Let us know how you have worked to embrace change in your life in the comments below.