Sometimes, change can be sudden and difficult to cope with. Other times, it can be exciting. Whatever emotions it might bring up, change is a necessary and natural part of life.
Think of the life stages of butterflies, for example. Each butterfly starts out as a caterpillar, but before it can transform into a beautiful butterfly, it must go through an intense process of change. If you ever feel under pressure during a transitional part of your life, you might be a caterpillar in your cocoon stage – about to take part in an awesome transformation.
Change is inevitable
Every season we watch the world transform around us. Whether its leaves falling off trees to prepare for winter, or flowers blossoming in the spring and summer, change is a constant part of life for all our relatives. We are no different. Your life will have many different seasons. The transition between them might be challenging. But, without change there is no growth.
Keep moving and don’t get stuck
When water in a river stops flowing, it can have damaging effects on the overall health of the plants, animals, and other life that rely on balance in the river’s ecosystem. For instance, if a river stops flowing, bacteria or other harmful fungi may start to grow. This overgrowth, and imbalance, can cause plants and fish in the river to die. It may also result in the water becoming unsafe for humans to consume.
It may be helpful to think of our journey in life like the path of a river. While it is important to rest when you need to, it is also important to keep moving through the changes in our lives that will inevitably occur.
Be a good relative
As we go through life transitions, it is important to be in good relationship with other humans, our plant and animal relatives, and our ancestors. These are the people and entities that will support us through change, and, in turn, we will support them too. We are all connected in many ways, and it is important that we take care of each other.
Find people that will support your change
You will change so much throughout your lifetime, especially throughout your teenage years and early adulthood. Find people – whether it’s friends, family, or mentors – that will continue to support you. Those lifelong friendships and networks will serve you well. They will also give you the opportunity to lend others a hand when you are able.
Remember that support is not one way. You will find yourself supporting others through changes in their lives as well. It is important that there is a reciprocity to our relationships with our relatives.
Focus on your values
Lastly, focusing on your core values can help you decide how you want to behave when the world feels unstable. During life transitions, ask yourself, “What matters most to me?” It might be kindness, honesty, family, and cultural practices. Then ask yourself “Do I know any traditional values I can apply to my life right now?” These might be values like “Respecting our elders” “Expressing gratitude” and “Recognizing the gifts in yourself and others.” Let your personal and traditional values be your foundation. After all, our values teach us important lessons about how we should treat ourselves, others, and the world around us. Our values can help us throughout life’s journey.
Remember your roots
At the end of the day, remember that you come from people who have experienced and embraced change for thousands of years. Our ancestors knew how to adapt to the changes in their environment and world. It is their resilience and resistance that have shaped our world today. That same power to adapt to change and create new paths lives within you too!
- All My Relations Podcast – Changing Seasons
- All My Relations Podcast – All My Loving Relations
- How to Stay Connected with Old Friends
- Effective Communication
- Honor your Needs
Author: McKalee Steen is a member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, and is currently a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley in the Environmental Science, Policy, and Management department. She is passionate about studying Indigenous land stewardship practices, providing resources for Indigenous youth, and the power of storytelling.