Sometimes terminology gets tossed around and we all nod our heads like we understand what’s being said, when we don’t. I thought I would take a few steps back and take a simplistic look at what personal change is, to ensure we’re all nodding our heads in understanding.

When I speak about personal change, I’m describing something personally transformative. The personal transformation can be large or small but somehow you change a bit of who you are. Personal transformation can be driven by external and internal events. These events can be prompted by something you control and others “happen to you”. I use the word event because often times, there is some very real event that occurs and a series of internal changes follow. Let’s examine these situations, look at examples and why that creates personal transformation.
External Events – An external event is something that happens in your environment. Examples of external events can be things such as moving, the death of someone, getting hired or fired, starting or finishing school, or children moving out of the house. On the surface these external events look just that: external to us. Yet, despite their external nature the internal impact is always there. The internal impact is not always in portion to the event itself. This is because we all process the impact in different ways. I’ll discuss our internal reactions later.

The reason why an external event, even something as simple as moving has an impact on us internally is because it forces us into making changes to accommodate that event. If you look at moving, you not only have your personal living arrangements completely impacted for a period of time, but you have new neighbors and are leaving old ones, new businesses to learn about and a new place to hang your toothbrush. You are changing habits and that creates anxiety or discomfort. You may also be creating a new social network and the dynamics of a new group of people will redefine who you are as well. Good or bad, you will change who you are even if it is only slightly. Other events mentioned could change you substantially such as a death of someone close or a job change.

Internal Events – An internal event is something that happens within you. Examples of internal events can be things such as falling in love, changing an attitude, or coming to the realization you want to change your life. Usually when an internal event takes place there is something going on in your life creating enough tension or concern that it gets your attention to do something. Just like an external event, you will go through some discomfort because any time you make a change of habit; you have to be fully conscious of your behavior until a new habit has formed.

In our control or someone else’s – We feel best when a change is our idea but we don’t always have the luxury of that choice. When we are in control of a change such as moving or changing jobs, we pursue it with the full knowledge that went into that decision. We moved through the various emotional stages to make the decision and now we’re good to go. When someone else has made a decision that impacts you, you have not had the benefit of going through the rationalization of the change and the time to process the emotional impact. You are behind. While moving through the transition can have its own challenges, it’s more challenging when you are changing because someone else is causing it. Things like death, divorce and job loss fall in this category. Grief usually follows and many times anger. The anger can be a reaction to the loss of control. When we become adults the primary “right” we gain is control. We are now in control of making decisions for ourselves and affecting them. When we perceive our control is usurped, we’re ticked.

Our internal reactions – In all situations I’ve sited, there is a common process we go through internally. The reaction has three parts: part 1 – you lose something, part 2 – you exist neither where you were nor where you are headed, part 3- you start something new. These parts are not separate distinct steps and will overlap at times. If you look at any of the external or internal changes, your internal reactions will contain the same 3 parts. Example if you move: part 1 – you are not part of the old neighborhood – you have lost that part of your life, part 2 – even if you have your boxes unpacked at the new place, you go through a stage where you neither truly part of this new place and you are definitely no longer part of the old, part 3 – over time and with effort, you emerge into a new definition of who you are in your new place. Each part has its impact on you. You can feel excitement and a sense of loss at the same time. You can feel confused and question the decision, even if it made sense. You could shake your self confidence wondering if you will ever make new friends or “fit in”. Eventually, you start seeing glimmers of your new life emerging and the excitement grows.

Change. It’s all personal.

Author's Bio: 

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a Career Coach and expert on helping her clients make change and achieve their goals. Are you afraid to face your fear of personal change or life transitions? Going through a divorce or relationship breakup? Lost your job? What difference would it make if you were confident that you could master the next personal change that would come your way? Check out this unique downloadable product: 6 KEYS TO MAKING PERSONAL CHANGES EASY AND PAINLESS FOR LIFE-How to Embrace Major Personal Changes in Your Life…Without Pulling Your Hair Out