How comfortable are you with change? How do you deal with change in your life? In general, do you see change as something to embrace or be feared?
Let’s say you have a goal you want to achieve, you have a well thought out plan on how to make it happen and you are working hard to achieve your desired outcome. Woo-hoo happy days!
Then suddenly you are faced with a big change in your life. You lose your job, you get a major job promotion, your relationship ends, you start a new relationship, a family member falls sick or you find out that your family is about to get an unexpected addition.
Suddenly everything changes.
Regardless of whether we view a change in a positive or negative light, it can send us into a tailspin and throw us off track.
Important Disclaimer – I am NOT a trained medical professional, therapist or counselor, so if you are struggling with depression, anxiety or suspect you may be struggling with a mental illness, please seek help from a medical professional.
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The world and each of us is constantly evolving.
Some of us embrace change more willingly than others. Some people thrive on change. It’s actually an important part of their overall life plan.
Others not so much! Some people like everything to stay the same.
Change can be unsettling but not changing comes with its own problems.
If you are stuck in a rut, it could be solely based on your refusal to seek out change or to embrace change with open arms when it seeks you out.
Because the changes in our lives can be dramatic, unexpected or so frequent it can be difficult dealing with change.
Often we learn new skills and coping strategies, just in time for things to change again!
Dealing with change doesn’t mean we necessarily have to be happy about the change itself. But we do need to find healthy ways of dealing with change in our life.
The truth is sometimes we only get comfortable with change because we have to. (Grieving comes to mind in this instance, losing someone or something we love can be one of the most difficult changes we have to deal with).
Here are some thoughts to take into consideration when it comes to change.
Watch out for resistance
Often when we have a major change in our lives our first instinct is resistance.
It seems much easier (at least in the short term) to deny, pretend or ignore the change.
The big problem with denial is that it tends to bite us at some point and we find ourselves in even more difficulty.
Pretending always catches up with us and ignoring just makes the inevitable moment of acknowledgment all that more painful.
Save your energy for the change process itself, not for struggling against it.
Fighting change brings its own set of problems and complications.
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- How to Cope with the Frequency of Change
Stop thinking all change is bad
This is where a lot of us get bogged down.
We automatically think of change as a bad thing.
We don’t want life to change because we think things won’t be as good as they are now or we think our lives will get worse.
Change can be a great thing as well. Change can bring growth and learning.
Granted it might not feel that way at the time but sometimes we need some time to pass before we realize that a particular change was a positive thing that put us on the right path.
Look for the opportunity
While change can be challenging it also can bring about amazing opportunities. Your job is to look for those opportunities.
For this to occur, however, you have to be open to embracing opportunity which rarely happens when you are hiding in the corner thinking how terrible life is.
To jump at opportunities, you have to be paying attention!
Be prepared for the frequency of change
We might be fine with things changing. What can mess with our heads is how often things change.
The frequency of change can leave us trying to catch our breath and wondering what the hell happened?
One of the most common frequencies of change, which can have a big impact on our lives is changes to our income.
The frequency at which some companies restructure is mind-boggling. Restructures mean change regardless of whether it’s something as simple as a department name change or something more complex like redundancies.
People understandably feel on edge when they perceive their livelihood and income are at risk.
We can’t stop a company restructuring but we can make sure that as individuals we have some sort of personal plan in place to cover our financial needs. It helps if we have some money (not a credit card) available in case our income suddenly changes.
Having a financial buffer in place is even more important if you are employed under a fixed-term contract (which is starting to become more commonplace in many companies).
I’ve been working fixed-term contracts and temp jobs for a couple of years now so I know how important it is to have some money tucked away in case you get called into a meeting room and told completely out of the blue that you no longer have a job. I’ve had this happen to me twice and each time it has been an extremely difficult change in my life. Having some money put aside helps with the financial side of things, leaving you more energy to deal with processing your emotions.
Speaking of which…
Deal with your feelings
One of the interesting things about change is that many of our problems have simple solutions.
If you are living in a toxic environment the solution is to leave that environment and find somewhere else to live.
But it’s our feelings that are associated with moving out of our existing situation that make the change so hard. It’s the feelings of shame, guilt, regret, resentment, disappointment, grief, frustration, anger and sadness that keep us locked in our toxic situation.
When you are aware of and start to deal with your feelings, change becomes easier. Not easy, but easier.
One important thing to note – this is about dealing with YOUR feelings, not overthinking, assuming or overanalyzing everyone else’s feelings.
If you need help processing and dealing with your feelings and emotions, please reach out to a trained professional for help. Look into what services (free and paid) are available in your city or state. I recently worked with a grief counselor over the phone and it helped me a great deal. Never be afraid to reach out for help.
Don’t drag out the misery
Some change is better when it’s not dragged out.
Take, for example, you know that your relationship is over but you can’t stand the thought of things changing when you break up, so you hang on and on. Meanwhile, you’re miserable. That misery drags out, all the while you tell yourself that you can’t bear the misery of breaking up – yet you’re already miserable! You’re already in hell, just a different kind.
If it’s ending, make it quick and get yourself onto the healing and recovery phase. Yes, it will hurt, a lot, but so does staying in limbo.
If you are staying in a bad situation, there might be more going on. You may be self-sabotaging and staying in a situation (that while awful) feels comfortable, because comfortable doesn’t require change.
There is an excellent chapter on self-sabotage in the book I am currently reading, How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back from Happiness by Andrea Owen.
This book has amazing insight into how to deal with your feelings as well as other topics that will help with your personal growth. I’m only about halfway through this book and I can already tell that it’s going to be a game-changer for me! Grab a copy of your own, I hope it helps you as well.
Fight like hell
There are times when change can truly knock us on our arse and when that happens the thing we need to do more than anything is fight. We need to fight like hell.
Being told you have cancer can be one example.
When my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, her whole world changed. It changed again when they found a cancerous tumor on her kidney.
Sometimes fighting with everything you got is your only option.
Go with the flow
This might sound oversimplified (particularly after that last topic) but sometimes we have to learn to go with the flow.
Sometimes there is not a damn thing we can do about something changing. Not a damn thing!
Some change is completely out of our control.
Stressing and worrying will only make matters worse, not to mention ramp up your anxiety to ridiculous levels.
Our best chance to get through unscathed is to let go and just let the change wash over us and accept that everything will sort itself out and that we will end up where we need to be.
Going with the flow isn’t easy but occasionally it’s all we got.
To help get you into this state of mind, focus on another element of your life.
For instance, if you are facing massive changes at work, focus on your relationships or hobbies or a passion project that you have on the go. Focus your positive energy on another area of your life and let the work situation sort itself out.
Change is something that we all have to learn how to deal with, and in many situations, learn how to embrace with open arms.
By not changing and growing you hold yourself back. You stagnate without change.
Change can be hard and painful. It can also be exciting and wonderful. How you deal with change and which path you take is completely up to you.
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