At some point, we all have profound experiences that impact who we are, shaking us to the core, and forcing us to step back and take a look at where we are in life. I refer to these experiences as Game Changers.
There are many events and life transitions that can serve as Game Changers—marriage, childbirth, a new job, divorce, moving to a different city, death of a loved one, or in my own case, a cancer diagnosis in the midst of getting my Ph.D. in Fear.
Every Game Changing experience is an opportunity to shift what is not working in your life.
Every crisis opens wide the window to transformation, but you must be willing to dive through. Stress-related growth is a psychological phenomenon in which personal growth and insight is expedited in times of major life changes because your typical defense mechanisms, like denial, intellectualization, and projection, can be rendered less effective. As a therapist working with clients in crisis or transition, I have witnessed growth that might take a year under normal conditions occur in as little as six months, because we are able to dig deeper and uncover underlying issues more quickly as present moment awareness is heightened and, in many cases, “time is of the essence.”
Game changers do not necessarily need to be initiated by a traumatic event, as we typically think. The same stress-related growth opportunity is created in both “bad” and “good” life transitions. Getting married and becoming pregnant are happy transitions, and yet both are included on the top ten of stressful life transitions list. Every joyful peak life experience, just like a traumatic experience, provides a heightened possibility for transformation.
In fact, most Game Changing experiences are exactly like life, a mixed bag of emotions.
There is happiness that comes with marriage and a mourning of leaving the single life. Divorce can be devastating, but ultimately, most couples also feel a sense of relief. In my health crisis Game Changing moment, I felt fear, nostalgia for the awesome life I had been living, sadness at the thought of leaving it prematurely, protective of my loved ones, gratitude for everything I had taken for granted, and so much joy from being newly in love with my husband and three teenage boys. The cancer Game Changer inspired me to change my career, eating habits, and exercise routine, to spend more time with loved ones, to start a meditation practice, not to sweat the small stuff, and many other changes considerably sooner than I would have.
You do not have to be thrown into a crisis to make changes in your life.
Answer the five questions below to gain insight on what areas of your life might need your attention.
You can think of it as the ability to create a game changing moment at any moment—the present one being perfect.
1. Are you living your best life? If no, describe in detail how your life would be if you were.
2. Write down a list of five actions you will commit to taking that will lead you toward living your best life now.
3. If money and time were not issues, what would you be doing?
4. How do you want to be remembered?
5. Do you have unresolved issues with any important people in your life? If so, will you commit to resolving them in the next three to six months?
Game Changing moments and transformation both boil down to change. Most people feel change happens to them rather than coming from them.
Answering the above questions and taking action will empower you around change as a choice. My dear friend Davidji, author or Secrets of Meditation: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace and Personal Transformation, says change is like breath: it isn’t part of the process; it is the process. In reality, the only thing we can count on is change. There is something very powerful and liberating about surrendering to change—it is where transformation and evolution reside. As we are all energy, resisting change creates physical and psychological constriction inspired by fear, and this energy blocks the flow of our abundance. As you learn to accept, embrace, and initiate change, you will start to see that the infinite possibilities of your life are in the not knowing and being okay with it.
I hope this post inspires you to take a deeper look at the Game Changing moments of your life, so you can gain all of the knowledge that is there for you.
Terri Cole, founder and CEO of Live Fearless and Free, is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. A cornerstone of Terri’s practice, meditation, was the impetus for her recently released guided mediation CD “Meditation Transformation.” In Fall 2012, she will begin hosting a Hay House radio show, giving listeners who are swimming upstream easy tools to flip over and float. Terri can be found on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.