5 Stages of Navigating Change

Jun 28, 2021

As creatures of habit, we don’t like change. The body is hardwired to resist change. For that reason, resistance is normal human behavior. It’s the body’s natural response to protecting us. However, not all change is life-threatening.

Our emotions can help us navigate change by a shedding light on the resistance we feel. By noticing and naming our resistance, it becomes much easier to switch perspectives, acknowledge what’s ending, deal with uncertainty, and embrace the possibilities.

The process of navigation involves five stages: Center, Ground, Entering and Blending, Skillful Action, and Union, as named by Richard Strozzi-Heckler, author of “The Anatomy of Change.”


Center is the starting place of navigating change. It is a place to anchor and orient around instead of being swept away by our thoughts. Center is a physical experience that can be felt and can be used as a way to focus, learn, and move through change.

Think of a change affecting you today. When you bring this change to mind, what do you notice inside? This is your center.


Grounding helps secure ourselves in the present moment. A simple way to ground is to notice the earth’s support beneath our feet or the chair that safely holds the weight of our body.

Give it a try. With your feet flat on the ground, what do you notice? How does this compare to what you noticed in the previous exercise?

Entering and Blending

Entering and blending are marked by active and empowered participation in change. Before we enter this stage, we must accept and appreciate that it is normal to resist change. It is here that we are with ourselves in an open and compassionate way that permits us to fully process our emotions.

We don’t have to like change in order to accept it. What might the change affecting you today make possible?

Skillful Action

Our reference point for skillful action is the body and not social pressure. In this stage, we can develop our sense of power by living and acting in the present moment. The quality and power of our attention and behavior proceed from a relaxed body. Tune into your 5 senses to become present and relaxed.

What are five things you see right now? Four things you feel through touch? Three things you can hear? Two things you can smell? One thing you taste?


Union is where we unify ourselves with the situation. We exchange the past and the things we cannot change for the present and the courage to change the things we can.

What’s one thing you have no control over related to the change affecting you today? What’s one thing you do have control over?

Resisting change is essentially resisting reality. What we resist grows stronger. Put your energy toward what you have control of. Instead of looking at the limitations and risks that come with change, try looking at change as the key that unlocks the door to unknown opportunity.