March 12, 2024

Dropping Anchor: How Can We Stay Steady During Change?

What support systems buoy us on our journeys? Blogger, Amy Dunn, offers some ideas and practices to keep us steady during times of change and transition.

The ancient philosopher Heraclitus infamously stated that the only constant in life is change. Even in modern times, I think we can all bear witness to these words. However, just because we are familiar with change doesn’t guarantee we become acclimated to navigating it. Oftentimes, it is quite the opposite because each different shift brings a unique set of challenges (because the only constant is change, right?), so finding our bearings can be tricky and illusive. How ironic that humans are observed as creatures of habit, yet exist in an ever-evolving world that’s defined by change. Despite our inclinations towards stress during change and uncertainty, we do have the opportunity to harness internal and external support systems to help buoy us on our journey.  

  • Transcendence and Spirituality: An anchor allows a ship to sway back and forth on the sea above so it is not at the mercy of the currents and tides, but this isn’t a rigid hold. In this same way, we flourish in a swaying spirituality, which offers us comfort and guidance through change, instead of holding us stuck in a framework that doesn’t provide the hope we need. Spirituality as an anchor is knowing that we are being held, guided and that, ultimately, all will be well.
  • Habits, Practices and Rhythms: Because change is characteristically unsteady, relaxing into the comfort of steadfast practices, rhythms, and routines can provide respite. This is where the human tendency towards habits and routines serves us well. Just because there are things outside our control that are changing does not mean every pattern we have will be shifting, too. Regular practices of reflection allow us to recenter, take a breath, and align with our values. This will look different for each of us, but whatever shape they take, they foster emotion regulation amidst the external volatilities.
  • Relationships and Community: Facing change can feel isolating and we sometimes buy into the narrative that we are the only one going through “stuff.” Being around other people and sharing our life with them breaks through this narrative and is almost unmatched in guarding us against spiraling too far into the rabbit hole of isolation. It is freeing to have others share their own (probably similar) struggles with change. This alone helps us feel safe and supported when it is tempting to turn inward.
  • Identity and Narrative: How we make meaning of our experiences can steady us during turbulence, or it can send us into an eddy, leaving us stuck and unmoving, or can throw us into mental rapids of anxiety and spinning thoughts. We need narratives that lead to love and a sense that we are guided and never alone. While uncertainty and change may lead us to question and rework some of our existing thinking, understanding ourselves as beloved provides a source of steady strength that we need to move forward.
  • Vocation and Purpose: One of the iron rungs on the chain of our anchor is the purpose we assign to our lives. Having a purpose that transcends our job or our current situation can guard us from becoming disillusioned and overwhelmingly discouraged when we are unsure of how things will work out or what is around the next corner. This type of purpose allows us to “fly at 30,000 feet,” knowing that our lives are significant and bring value to the world around us, regardless of what form that takes. An inalienable sense of purpose is a firewall against unrest during change.  
  • Ethics and Virtues: Intrinsically, we have all built certain virtues—what we believe to be ethical and valuable—into who we are. Some of these may be love, compassion, honesty, bravery, patience, and joy. Our value system, the virtues we adhere to, helps inform the decisions we make during uncertainty. Not losing sight of these virtues, what is important to us at the deepest level, can help guide us through the fog.


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