Posted by: silverliningsblog | October 2, 2017

Unwanted changes – How to let go and move forward

bench-560435_640Fall is a good reminder that nothing stays the same. Just as the beautifully coloured leaves fall from the trees, so too do things and people come and go from our lives.

We all go through periods of expansion and contraction, and while we might prefer one over the other, both are critical for our growth and well-being. Spring and summer bring new life, energy and growth. Fall and winter allow for harvest, rest and regeneration.

So if we know that the fundamental nature of life is change, why do we resist it so much? Why does it cause us so much grief?

Why we resist change

We humans are creatures of habit. We like to be “comfortable,” and to know what will happen next. So when change visits our doorstep, and thrusts something upon us that we weren’t expecting (and worse, weren’t wanting), we tend to resist it with all our might. So when a relationship ends, we lose a job, our kids leave home, health problems crop up, or a loved one dies, our typical response is to complain about our fate, and in so doing, make things worse for ourselves.

It’s natural to feel pain and a sense of loss when a major change occurs. But it is not natural (or necessary) to suffer. Suffering happens when we resist change, when we dig our heels in and say “I don’t want this to happen,” living in the past, refusing to deal with current reality, and avoiding our true feelings.

For example, let’s say your relationship ends. It is natural to feel a sense of loss, and to grieve both the relationship and the person who is no longer part of your life. You may feel sad for a period of time, and possibly even angry. But if you process your emotions and get support from family, friends and possibly a therapist or coach, your emotions will eventually pass, you will regain hope in the future, and you will start to feel better.

If, on the other hand, you start pining over how things used to be, wondering what your ex is doing now, and obsessively checking his page on Facebook every day, you are effectively resisting reality and prolonging the pain by keeping yourself energetically tied to your ex. By resisting the feeling of pain (trying in vain to keep the connection alive), we unwittingly cause ourselves greater suffering. Every time we see a photo of our ex looking happy, we wonder, “How can he be so happy when I am so miserable?” Truth? Because he’s moved on and you haven’t.

How to let go

So how can you learn to let go (especially when you don’t want to)?

1. Process your emotions – The first step is to acknowledge how you are truly feeling—not just the surface-level emotions (frustration, resentment, bitterness), but also the deeper feelings (pain of rejection, sadness that your family is not longer together, fear of being alone). For more help with this step, see Dealing with unruly emotions: Tuning in, not checking out.

2. Take good care of yourself – In times of change, it’s critical to put self-care first. So make a list of what makes you feel happy. Then try to do something on that list every day. This will gradually help you shift your mood and energetic state, so that you begin to feel better.

3. Look for the good – Ask yourself, what is good about my life already? We have a tendency to hyperfocus on what has gone wrong (the past), which takes our focus off of what is going right (the present). And yet, gratitude is one of the fastest ways to shift focus and feel better. So grab a journal and a cup of tea, and write down everything you love about your life as it is, right now.

4. Ask better questions – Next, notice what questions you are asking yourself. Most people react to change by asking these “why” questions:

* Why is this happening?
* Why me?
* Why now?

But these are fundamentally disempowering questions that put you in a state of victimhood.

Instead, try asking these “how” and “what” questions, which will help you feel more empowered to look for opportunities and create positive change:

* What are the blessings in this situation? (e.g. I wasn’t happy in this relationship anyway. I feel much freer now to live the life I want.)

* What are the opportunities? (e.g. This will allow me to look for something better.)

* How can this benefit me or others? (e.g. My kids will get more quality time with me. I can spend more fun time with my girlfriends.)

* How can I turn this around? (e.g. I can reinvest in my own life and learn to feel happy again. I can take that course I’ve been wanting to take.)

For more help with this step, see 5 magic questions to improve your life.

5. Shift your focus forward – When we continue to stare at a closed door, we fail to see the new ones that have opened. So take your focus off of “what went wrong,” and instead ask yourself, “What do I want now?” Allow yourself to dream, and imagine the life and partner you really What would that look like, feel like? By envisioning your dream life (future), you will become more clear on what your next step should be to begin creating it.

How “negative” change can become positive

forest-1345747_640When my husband Blair died 20 years ago, I definitely did not think it was a good change. I was devastated to lose my soulmate, and felt like life was against me. I felt powerless to make things better, tried to stuff my feelings down, and then slipped into a two-year depression.

Things finally started to change for me when I allowed myself to grieve with the help of a terrific counsellor, and started to take the steps listed above. Suddenly my perspective shifted, and the world seemed brighter again. I regained hope in my future, and that life could still be good…even without Blair in it.

Because of Blair’s death, my relationship with my mother improved. I gained many new friends who stepped in to help me. I moved to a new city to pursue a journalism degree, which led me to the career, kids and friends I have now. I gained a tremendous amount of compassion for people who are struggling, and became a life coach as a result.

I would never have wished for that particular change to have happened, but I can now see how many blessings it did bring.

Change is not easy, especially unwanted change like losing a loved one. But I find it helps to trust that a higher power is lining things up in a way we can’t see right now, and that there is a purpose to it all.

For example, when my ex-husband and I split up eight years ago, I was afraid of being alone, of being judged, of messing up my children’s lives. Once again, the changes I was going through did not at all feel “positive.”

But now, eight years later, I am grateful for the path that has led me to where I am. Now, I am much happier and fulfilled, and lead a life that is consciously designed by me. I have a great career and relationship with my kids. I thoroughly enjoyed my single years, getting to know and fall in love with myself. And I now have a terrific relationship with an amazing guy who could not have entered my life if I had kept staring at that closed door—the relationship with my ex that was clearly not working.

Change really does bring with it opportunity for growth. It may take time to see the changes you are experiencing in a positive light, but once you do, you will feel so much better.

I send you lots of love and positive energy as you navigate the changes in your life, and hope this article helps.

Share your thoughts!

What changes have knocked on your door? What has helped you feel better? Please share your tips/comments below!

Resources for further learning

If you have a relationship that recently ended and would like help, I invite you to attend my free webinar called Lemons to lemonade: How to turn your heartbreak into a breakthrough.

If you’re in the Ottawa area, you may also be interested in my two-day transformational event Heartbreak to breakthrough: Heal your heart, reclaim your power!

Other articles:


Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen is an empowerment coach for single women and mother of two. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about themselves, turn their heartbreak into the best thing that ever happened to them, and create a life they love, so they become a magnet for their dream partner. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at



  1. […] Unwanted changes – how to let go and move forward (Karen Strang Allen) […]

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