Given the tumultuous changes of recent weeks I can't think of a better song to sing than recently deceased Leonard Cohen's Anthem. He begins and closes:
The birds they sang at the break of day Start again I heard them say Don't dwell on what has passed away or what is yet to be . . . .
Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything That's how the light gets in. That's how the light gets in. That's how the light gets in.
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
Our nation has experienced a big crack in our identity. A shock. A major catalytic event. No matter how you did or didn't participate in our recent presidential election, the results have put millions of us either into a state of immense despair, fear, disorientation or feelings of relief, jubilation.
As individuals we experience catalytic events all the time. Change comes in a myriad of shapes, flavors and sizes. Big to small. Expected, not. Joyful to distressing. The immensity of this nation-wide catalytic event – this crack – has placed each of us and our country into what Martha Beck, PhD calls Phase One of the Change Cycle.
The Change Cycle. A guide. When you have a map to guide you through change, you know how to survive chaos, surmount hurdles and avoid pitfalls as well as discover shortcuts and easier paths Usable anytime. Anywhere. As you move through your life of change.
Thanks to knowing the Change Cycle I knew where I was in the Change Cycle when the national catalytic event occurred: Phase One. So even in the midst of the confusion and disorientation of Phase One I knew what I needed to do to get through its challenges as smoothly as possible. Among other things I repeated often and regularly the Phase One mantra - I don't know what the hell is happening . . . and that's okay!
You may wonder why getting to know a bit about Phase One of the Change Cycle could be useful. Its name? Death and Rebirth. That lets you know a couple of things about Phase One. It can be very painful. And, it can be profoundly regenerative. We're not talking about physical death, here. We're talking rather about the fact that a part or all of your former self, your old identity dies. And inevitably you'll experience feelings of grief: sadness, fear, anger and/or denial. For me?
Death. Dying of my old self. Suddenly much I had worked for as a decades-long activist came into question. Gone were any remaining wisps of naivete, self-satisfaction and pride. Gone any illusions of things getting better easily or soon.
Then by the end of Phase One,
Rebirth. I have emerged with a revitalized connection with the peace and wisdom of my essential self. More humility. More clarity and wisdom. More compassion. And a deepened sense of purpose, presence and groundedness.
How about you? What kinds of changes have you been experiencing? Are you still in the throes of Phase One? Not much fun, really.
Phase One is the first and most challenging of the Change Cycle's 4 phases. It starts with a catalytic event. A crack. And this is how the light gets in. Blinders and layers of old self and illusions fall away. There is often much to mourn. But knowing how to navigate the rough waters of Phase One allows you to move through its challenges as effectively as possible. So that by the end of Phase One you will connect with your deepest, wisest self – your essential self.
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be
A powerful way to move effectively through Phase One is simply to stay present. Be here now. Best not to dwell on what has passed away or what is yet to be. Mourn your losses. And allow the many feelings of grief to flow through you. The more fully and clearly you grieve, the better.
As you fully let go of your old self you will arrive at a threshold. A limbo-like land where you are neither old self or new. It is a place and time to simply stand still, be patient and mindful. And listen for the arising songs of birds. For they herald the emergence of your new self.
This journey through Phase One can last hours, days, months, rarely years. It all depends on the catalytic event and magnitude of your loss. And then how readily you are able to move through the grieving process, and sit on the threshold of not-knowing, until you connect with your essential self.
The birds they sang
at the break of day
I heard them say
It is in the closing phase of Phase One where you are most able to connect with your wise and peace-filled self, your essential self. And, coming through the crack? The light. The light of who you are. Always present to guide and serve you as you move through the rest of the Change Cycle:
- Dreaming & Scheming, visioning and imagining (Phase 2),
- Creating and manifesting in the Hero's Journey (Phase 3),
and finally arriving in the
- Promised Land (Phase 4) living a life that is the fullest expression of your essential self
until, that is . . .
- Another catalytic event arrives. Putting you into Phase One for another journey through the Change Cycle!
We'll be exploring Phase One
survival strategies and more next time.
In closing I want to express deep gratitude to Leonard Cohen for his gifts of wisdom and words over the years. May they continue to guide us on our individual and collective journeys through change and life!
As a trained life coach I support and accompany you through the initial waves of disorientation and confusion of Phase One to connect with your essential self. It is my passion to guide you through the Change Cycle to the fullest expression of your essential self. For you to live your light.