Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lesson #9: Change Is Good

One of the hardest things to handle at any age is change, especially when it is determined by other people.  It can appear that something you value is being threatened or taken away from you when change occurs.  Yet forty years of living on this planet has now offered me an overwhelming pile of evidence that demonstrates change is good. 

Notice I didn't say that change always feels good.  More often than not, changes are accompanied with a period of discomfort, anxiety, restlessness, and often grief for something that has been lost.  Yet there is no way I would be in Brooklyn, New York, working as a psychotherapist, typing out these lessons on a thing called a "blog" on a system called the "Internet" using networks called "Twitter" or "FaceBook" if it wasn't for millions and millions of changes.

I spent a fair amount of time when I was younger fighting and resisting change.  Growing up living in the same house and going to school with the same students from Kindergarten through high school afforded me the luxury of not having to adjust to very many significant alterations.  Even in my twenties, as I moved to San Francisco, I still tried to prevent and avoid drastic changes.  I always approached an alteration in my life with the automatic thought, "Uh oh, this is not going to be good."

Trying to avoid change in personal relationships has cost me plenty.  As mentioned in Lesson #20, I used to have a tendency to try hold on to someone even when I knew it was not healthy for either one of us.  By not facing inevitable endings, I participated in a toxic process that made both of our lives more complicated and painful.

By my mid 30s I took inventory of my life and realized that things had turned out well.  I was living in Palm Springs, making a great living doing work I loved, and had supportive loving family and friends near.  Yet I also noticed that everything good in my life was a result of a change that I had originally resisted.  Leaving San Francisco, changing jobs, losing certain relationships, and not getting specific professional opportunities, had resulted in circumstances turning out far better than I had planned.

It was then I realized that change itself is not "bad," and it is not "wrong."  It might be painful at times, it might be inconvenient, and it definitely can be scary.  But at the same time,  every change presents itself with an opportunity and a challenge.  The trick of being "young" at any chronological age is to embrace and accept changes, and conversely, it is a sign of aging to fight and resist them. My forty years have shown me that I will have a much easier and happier time if I dance with impending change instead of trying to step on its toes. 

**To read an excellent book about embracing life changes at ANY age, please check out Tina Sloan's best-seller "Changing Shoes."  You will never see aging or changing the same way again!

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City. He specializes in issues related to addiction, ageism, bullying, caretaking fatigue, grief and loss, gay/lesbian issues, stress management, depression, as well as couples in non-traditional arrangements. He is the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." To have him speak with your group, or to schedule a counseling visit, call 347-227-7707, or email at

**If you are in the New York City area, please come by for Damon's "Fabulous at Forty" workshop on Monday, April 25th, at 8pm, at 208 W. 13th Street, Room 410**

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