We are Hardwired to Evolve
By: Ayla Khosroshahi, MA, ACC
Transformation is uncomfortable AF.
We are hardwired to evolve. Change is the only constant. When we don’t evolve we stagnate. Stagnation takes on many shapes: resentment, jealousy, anger, fear, anxiety, depression, confusion, lack of motivation, unfulfillment. Change doesn’t always feel great, but giving into it is the only way forward. When we learn to lean into our evolution the magic begins.
Identity evolves, circumstances are temporary, and change is beautiful. We must learn to stretch to make room for creativity, innovation, and better versions of ourselves. We must embrace stretch to make room for possibility.
We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.
— Max de Pree
Your ideals of yesterday shouldn’t weigh down your tomorrow. Who you wanted to be isn’t as important as who you are, and who you decide to show up as today. If the dreams of yesterday no longer serve you, then give yourself the permission to let them go. It’s not failure; it’s evolution. Being honest and present with yourself is more important than holding on to an ideal that no longer holds value.
This work takes superpowers that we all have. It takes self-awareness that we can all possess. It takes openness that we can all access — openness to be wrong; openness to be right; and openness to see what evolves.
The cost of your new life will be your old one.
I recently became a mother. If this isn’t evolution I don’t know what is. I soon realised that balance was elusive and my whole self needed to be redefined. I realised that I was going to have to let go of parts of myself to make room for a new version of me. I realised I had to re-conceptualise my understanding of ‘self’ in general. This made me claustrophobic and frustrated. I had worked so hard to get here and now I had to start from scratch? This is when I realised that the work never ends and, once you learn that, you can’t unlearn it. You realize, whether you want to or not, that you must always evolve. So I accessed my MINDSHIFT tools and did the work. While I’m still transitioning, these are the three mindset tools that are helping me evolve, and that are supporting me through the many, many changes: gratitude, grit + grace.
Gratitude means paying attention to your life in a specific way. Gratitude is about making a daily choice. The practice of gratitude is as simple and profound as choosing the lens in which you see yourself, and the world around you. In times of transition, gratitude is exceptionally powerful because it grounds you, builds a foundation and focuses on the things that matter most. Gratitude is an instrumental MINDSHIFT tool as it provides a cognitive reframe for your brain to look for the things going well, to acknowledge the people in your life who are supporting you, and to take inventory of your growth.
How can you incorporate gratitude into your daily life?
This is the time to show up. This is the time to push yourself to your new growth. Sometimes you have to claw your way out. Sometimes it’s a baby step in the right direction. Either way, you have to show up. Show up as Your Best Self, inspire yourself, impress yourself, and prove yourself right. Grit is about perseverance, it is the steadfast pursuit of your journey in spite of challenges in your way. The best way to cultivate and access grit is for you to connect to why your path matters in the first place, to understand your purpose of the pursuit, and how growing through this transition will increase your personal fulfillment. The hard fact is that someone else can’t answer these questions for you; you have to find your own personal why.
How can Your Best Self empower your grit?
Grace makes space for love. Grace sees this transition as an invitation. Grace is about self-compassion. Grace makes room for forgiveness and gives us the permission to not know, to be lost, to need space, and to ask for help. Grace is about empathy, self care, and embracing the unknown with the trust that you will find your way. Grace empowers intuition and invites a deeper wisdom to arise. Sometimes accessing this space is as simple as a breath, other times it needs deeper conversations and safer spaces for support. Ultimately transformation is hard, and as you work all your mental and emotional muscles to rebirth a better version of yourself, you need to feed your soul with love.
How can you embrace grace to help you through times of change?
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need.
— Rolling stones
Want more tools to empower your transformation? Here are four MINDSHIFT principles to support your brain through your evolution: stillness, destination, safety + inventory.
Transformation, of any kind, needs a safe space to be quiet. Be still. It is in this silence we learn most. In times of change we have to learn to be still with pain, frustration, overwhelm, confusion, be still even with joy. Instead of filling our head with noise, advice, and information — even if it is positive, we must use this time to differentiate between the noise and the light. It’s in this quiet, in this stillness, where our answers lie. You need the time and space to process all the information that you receive. Less thinking, more thought. You need to give yourself the opportunity to figure it out. Maybe not perfectly at first but just enough to get the muscles moving, to deepen your reflection abilities and to generate insight. This space will allow you to transform your knowledge into wisdom. Suddenly when we connect to that space, the brain simmers down, and it can differentiate the fear voice and our real voice.
How can you make room for nothingness?
Successful transition needs a destination. Even if you are not sure where you are going, try and understand why you are on this journey in the first place. Try and connect to a feeling, how do I want to feel on this journey, how do I want to feel a year from now? Find the excitement, joy and purpose in the change. Use a storyboard, vision board, or journal, to connect to an ideal state and space you want to reach. Find ways to connect with the journey by understanding your destination. Why you are going through this change? What do you hope to find at the other end? How will it connect you with your purpose, and increase your fulfillment and impact?
How can connecting to your destination empower your transformation?
We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present.
— Anais Nin
Transformation is not an all or nothing game. You can hold on to parts of the past and parts of yourself that still serve you, and that still add value. As you are evolving, and maybe having some oh so natural growing pains, it’s okay to take a ‘safety blanket’ along. Take something, someone, a part of you, that gives you comfort, support, and makes you feel safe. Need some examples of ‘safety blankets’? Here are two:
E.g. Imagine you are renovating your home and it’s taking way to long, and you are feeling overwhelmed and dislocated. Ask yourself: what is one thing that made me feel at home? Let’s say it was Saturday morning pancakes. Take that and incorporate it, so every Saturday you and your family go to a diner for pancakes to keep up the tradition while your home is in chaos to reimage a sense of tradition.
E.g. Imagine your just moved in with someone, or you just got married or have a child. You are feeling your sense of independence invaded, That you are living a life for others and losing parts of yourself. Ask yourself: what are three things from my ‘single’ life that I truly miss? Start by picking one of them, like going to see bands, and reintegrate it into your life.
What are parts of you make you that you are proud of? What are the parts of you that make you feel grounded and safe? How can these parts help support and ease your transformation?
You can do hard things, and you have done hard things before. Maybe not exactly like this, but other things, so take inventory. Rootless affirmations won’t get you anywhere. The brain is an amazing BS detector. However, if you remind it that you have done hard things, that you have evolved, changed, and transitioned before, this gives your brain and the affirmation a foundation to stand on and makes real change possible.
What’s an example(s) in your life that demonstrates your ability to show up to a challenge and thrive? What did you do? How did you make yourself proud?
When you start to crack open, don’t waste a moment gathering your old self up into something like you knew before. Let your new self splash like sunlight into every dark place and laugh and cry and make sounds you never made and thank all that is holy for the gift, because now you have no choice but to let all your love spill out into the world.
— Brian Andreas
Happy growing! May your evolution surprise you, excite you and take you on wonderful adventures.
Transitioning? Need support? We are here to spot you, contact us!