Last week I mentioned we had a wildfire here in Bend. It’s under control and no structures or life was lost. Phew! I also brought up my friend Pam who lost her home in a fire a few years back and how that catastrophic event threw her into the change cycle. Today I’m going to explain that cycle and how we each go through it when either something horrible happens or we want to change something in our lives. I learned about this when going through life coach training with Martha Beck and it has absolutely made my life and those of my clients so much easier when they know, OH, I’m in this part of the cycle, this is why I feel this way, and this is what I can do about it.
Let’s jump in.
The Change Cycle has 4 squares. One for each stage you’re in. A great way to think about this is with the metaphor of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.
Square 1- (Death and Rebirth)
You’re in square 1, often, because of catastrophic event, like a death, or job loss. You may feel pain, grief, be in limbo, panic, or have a general loss of identity. It’s best to just be in it and feel crappy for a while. Melt down like the caterpillar who has just entered the cocoon. Wrap yourself in warm blankets. Cry. Listen to music. FEEL your feelings. We need this. Having our feelings is not being wimpy. They tell us what’s going on with us and those feelings want to be heard and validated just like your friends or significant other do. Give yourself that time. Because when you do, something fascinating happens. You start to get glimpses of possibility for your life you couldn’t see before, and that means you’re heading into square 2.
The mantra for square 1 is “I don’t know what the hell is going on and that’s okay”
Square 2- (Dreaming and Scheming)
This is when you actually start to feel a little better here and there. You get ideas about a direction you want to go with your life. Something odd may seem fun and exciting. For no reason you want to run to the art store, buy paint and take a class. Or you want to change your entire wardrobe. By golly, start doing those things. Start taking small lady bug steps towards what feels good. Whatever direction that may be. This is when the caterpillar has completely melted down and is now starting to reform into what will be a butterfly.
The mantra for square two is, “There are no rules and that’s okay”.
Square 3- (The Hero’s Saga)
This is the DOING phase. You are taking large steps towards whatever you tested out in square two that continued to feel good. You have a plan and are moving full speed ahead in that direction. The butterfly is starting to emerge from the cocoon but must do a lot of work using it’s legs and strength to get out.
The mantra for square 3 is, “This is much worse than I expected and that’s okay”.
Square 4- (The Promised Land) This is the time when things are flowing in your life. The butterfly has left the cocoon and is flitting about. You are feeling in flow with life. You only need to make minor adjustments here and there to sustain success.
The mantra for square 4 is, “Everything is changing and that’s okay”.
It’s important to know that you can be in different squares in various parts of your life. For example, your career could be in square 1 while your spiritual life could be in square 4.
You could also be in a little of 2 squares at the same time. For example, you could be mourning the loss of someone’s love (square 1) and at the same time be excited about finding a new love (square 2).
There you have it, the Change Cycle. We all go through it, over and over again. All through life. It’s completely normal. But once you recognize it, you’ll know what’s happening with you and you can say, “oh, I’m just in square 1 and I need to allow myself to melt down.
Just like the caterpillar on it’s way to becoming a butterfly.
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