STOP: Four steps to mindfully make and manage change

Being mindful of change can help us manage change better.

Every September, I watch parents run after excited school children to the pedestrian crossing from my home-office window. Some families cautiously approach the school gates, anticipating the change that awaits after a leisurely summer. Others are buoyant with enthusiasm – ready for change! Occasionally, I hear an adult hollering down the road: “STOP!” They have to prevent over-enthusiastic children from thoughtlessly crossing the road.

No matter if they embrace the change of pace that the transition brings or if they are reluctantly crossing the road to enter the school year, all the pedestrians are required to STOP before making the change. And motorists also have to pay attention and STOP when they let pedestrians cross the road.

The way everyone has to slow down to make a safe change reminded me of the famous STOP acronym that Jon Kabat-Zin, one of the founders of Mindfulness, coined. Being mindful of change helps us to not just be on auto-pilot and suppress all the feelings we might have around change. When we mindfully STOP in times of change, we can manage our feelings and outcomes much better than reacting with a knee-jerk to change.

Facing change? Try it now…

S: Slow down and stop

Whatever you’re doing, just pause momentarily. Now name the change, eg I am pregnant, I have been made redundant, my child is starting school, etc.

T: Take a breath

Re-connect with your breath. The breath is an anchor to the present moment. You might want to take a few breaths and notice if they change. We forget how relaxing a few deep breaths can be!

O: Observe

Notice what’s happening inside you and outside of you? Where has your mind gone? Change might bring grief for what has gone. Or excitement about what is to come!

P: Proceed

Continue doing what you were doing. You can write down your feelings and thoughts about the change or talk it through with a loved one or a coach.

The original post was written for CareeringIntoMotherhood.

Resources attached to this article can be found here.

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