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Navigating Big Changes

Image courtesy of IMDb.
Image courtesy of IMDb.

In my last post, I shared that so far, 2015 is a year of big changes in my life.

This time last year, I was still at the helm of MentorCONNECT, the nonprofit I founded in 2009.

This year, as of January 1, the reins are in the hands of a new group of leaders – people I know and trust, but they are still not me.

This time last year, I was broken up with my boyfriend, miserable yet resigned, stoic yet heartbroken.

This year, we enter a new year together and we are – remarkably – stronger than we’ve ever been.

And these are just two of the really big changes accompanying me in 2015.

A few days ago, a friend and I watched a movie called “Birdman,” starring Michael Keaton and Edward Norton.

Aside from an instant fondness for the title (feathers are always a win-win for me), I found the movie itself somewhat hard to digest.

For instance, there were quite a lot of scenes with dudes running around in their tidy white undies.

Also, actors were portrayed as (yawn) self-centered, a theme I find both overdone and unfair (i.e., are actors truly more self-involved, or does their profession simply cause them to be unable to so easily hide that aspect of our shared human condition?)

Plus, frankly, I really thought the “Birdman” costume could have been better.

All that aside, the most beautiful part of the film for me was a scene where Norton agrees to play “Truth or Dare” with Keaton’s daughter, Sam (played by Emma Stone).

In the scene, she asks him – flirtatiously – what he would do to her if he was not afraid.

His answer was both violent and beautiful, and has kept me thinking for days. 

He said (and I paraphrase), “I would take the eyes out of your head and put them into my sockets so I could see the world through your eyes.”


And perfectly timed to remind me of my favorite coping strategy for riding out big changes.

Over the years I have realized we typically can’t stop big changes from occurring. Similarly, for me at least, just wanting a big change won’t typically cause it to magically manifest.

What helps me in these times – and what has always helped me – is to try on another set of eyes and take a fresh look at the world and my situation.

I can then perceive:

a) I am not the only being struggling to cope with an unwelcome or simply unexpected (even if very welcome) change.

b) I am not the only being who wonders if she can survive or thrive (or both) as the change unfolds.

c) I am not the only being who has felt equal amounts of fear and hope grappling for territory inside me.

This “your eyeballs in my eye sockets” strategy helps because I feel connected instead of isolated when I remember there are lives going on all around me, lives equally as complex as and complementary to my own.

The particular set of eyes I choose also matters.

I might choose my mentor’s eyes, my partner’s eyes, my best friend’s eyes, even a stranger’s eyes, depending on what perspective I feel like I’m not seeing that I need to see. I may even try on several sets of eyes until I find the insights I am looking for.

Ultimately, the goal of this exercise is to remind myself I do have support, I do have courage, I do have stamina, I do have persistence, I do have every reason to press on, expecting something wonderful out of it all.

Today’s Takeaway: Have you seen “Birdman?” Did you enjoy it? If so, what was your favorite part of the film and why? How are you feeling as 2015 begins to unfold – what hopes, fears, and expectations do you have of this brand new year?

Navigating Big Changes

Shannon Cutts

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2015). Navigating Big Changes. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from


Last updated: 1 Jan 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Jan 2015
Published on All rights reserved.