Life is change. We grow older, our relationships evolve, our
careers develop, our circumstances and expectations shift. Contrary to what many believe, it’s change
that is normal, not the ticking along of what’s always been. Then why, if change is a fact of life and
something we’ve always experienced, do we find it to be so difficult?
The simple, ironic and somewhat
comical answer is that though life is change, humans are creatures of
habit. Invariably, we’re more
comfortable with understanding the way things work than we are with trying
something different, even if the “something different” is potentially better.
Just as we experience growing pains
as our bodies change, we inevitably experience distress as we are forced to
face the unknown and eventually adapt to new situations. Luckily, there are several ways to increase
our level of comfort when dealing with change.
Here are a few strategies that may work for you:
Rethink your perspective. Often the way we handle change is more a
matter of how we perceive the change affecting us than the reality of what is
happening. If we anticipate it affecting us positively, change is exciting and
energising. But, if we fear it will
affect us negatively, change is depressing and debilitating. By managing our expectations, we can choose
to confront change with the question, “What am I going to gain?” instead of “What
am I going to lose?” View change as a
means to your goals, not a barrier preventing you from reaching them.
Accept the reality of change. Often times, we view change as something that
needs to be endured until everything can be “back to normal.” But the more likely reality is that the
change will become the new “normal.”
Whether your company has just been sold to a competitor, you have a new
manager, you’re adjusting to a new financial situation, or you’ve recently
separated from your spouse, the sooner you can accept that the change is
permanent, the sooner you will be able to find and enjoy the positive results.
Invite change to be a part of your
life. Instead of waiting for big changes
to come crashing down on you, establish a pattern of experiencing new things so
that change starts to feel normal. Try new foods, join a new club, or pick up a
new sport. Eventually, you may find that
you even look forward to change as an exciting opportunity to mix things up in
your everyday life.
When possible, anticipate change
and plan accordingly. One of the reasons
why we resist change is because we are often caught off guard by it. When change is sprung on us, it tends to be
overwhelming. But if we can anticipate
change, we are better able to manage the pace at a more comfortable level. For instance, adapting to a new baby can be
very difficult, especially for first time parents. But luckily, you have at
least nine months to prepare. Instead of
focusing on how enormous the imminent change will be, use that time to
anticipate and plan for all of the little things that will change (research
helpers, speak to your employer about any expected changes to your work
schedule or health care plan, draft a family budget that incorporates the
baby’s needs, etc.)
Develop a personal coping
strategy. Change, especially when it is
not self-motivated, creates stress.
Manage this stress by taking care of your body — get plenty for rest,
exercise regularly, and watch your diet. You will be better able to deal with the
change if you are healthy and relaxed.
Your strategy may also include investing time into training so that you
are better able to meet the challenges created by the change.
Don’t suffer in silence. Always ask for help when you need it,
especially if you are feeling confused or overwhelmed by what is changing.
So, in sum: Life is change; change
is hard. But remember, “energy is not
created, it is transformed.” If the
scientific principle holds, than all creation, inspiration, and progress must
start with change.