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JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS - June 2015 - Kansas City
Sea of Change
By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.
Change is inevitable, and yet it is one of the most difficult challenges. Our physical body, emotions and thoughts change rapidly in the context of an outer environment that is in constant flux. Let’s take a look at change as part of our ongoing daily lives.
Think about the last 24 hours, the last week, month or year. Have you experienced any major life changes like death, divorce, separations, injury or illness for you or a family member? Job change or moving? Then there are the everyday things of life like eating, sleeping, hours of working, leisure time activities that may be giving us pain or pleasure. Many of these changes occur during the naturally occurring passages of age and maturation.
Nearly 50 years ago, two social scientists, Holmes & Rahe, did a landmark research project on the relationship of stress, life change and health. They devised a list of 43 items describing life events giving each a score ranging from 100 to 11. They asked people to mark down the point value of each of the items that had happened to them in the last year.
The results were quite interesting. People with scores of 150 or less, indicating a low amount of life change, had low susceptibility to stress-induced health breakdown. People with scores of 150-300 points had a 50 percent chance of major health breakdown in the next two years, while 300 points or more raised the probability to 80 percent. This research result continues to be predictive today.
As we go through the everyday stressors of life, along with the changes of age and maturation, it is important to develop healthy strategies. Andre Gide gives a valuable perspective as we embark on this journey: “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” The first lesson of change is that we are often catapulted into a new place that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. I often call this “the sea of chaos.”
It is important to know that transitions can shake our sense of identity, asking us to see ourselves in a new and different way. We may feel a sense of anxiety or depression. If we can remind ourselves that this is an opportunity for growth and think positively about the possibilities, we can switch to a more optimistic place.
It is also very important to take time for reflection, perhaps recalling other times in our life when we successfully navigated stressful change. Ask for help from others in the form of support or ideas about how they have met challenges. Talking to a trusted person can be a great source of strength.
Of course, going back to the basics of exercise, getting enough sleep, eating healthily, taking helpful supplements and taking time for one’s self and time with others, are essential aspects of going through the stress and chaos successfully.
Be patient with yourself. Give yourself room for learning; facing what may seem like failures. Remind yourself that you have all the time you need, that discomfort can be a good thing. Keep your goals, expectations and time frames realistic. Be as flexible as you can during this time of change. Use the stress-reducing tools that are calming. If you don’t have any, find someone who can teach you these tools.
You can reach the shore of comfort and completion. The swim is really worth it.
Jude LaClaire, Ph.D., LCPC, is a counselor, educator and author. For counseling appointments, seminars, training, speaking engagements or information on Neurobehavioral Programs or Imago Couple therapy call 913-322-5622. For more information about Jude LaClaire or the Kansas City Holistic Centre go to