How can I cope more easily with Change?
We’ve all read the quotes about change being the only thing you can truly rely on, or the only real constant in life, and we all know that change will continue to happen in our lives whether we like it or not. Sometimes the change feels exciting and welcome, and other changes can seem shocking at least, and not in a good way.
Regardless of what is changing and how, sometimes it just feels hard, or at the least uncomfortable, and we all like to feel like we have some sense of control over situations or events.
Significant changes in our lives can have a massive impact, like the loss of a loved one, the onset of illness, redundancy or moving house, and when events collide or combine it can seem insurmountable. Consider the example of someone losing their spouse and having to relocate, and it’s understandably more than overwhelming.
Having said that, what could be considered ‘smaller’ changes can also have us feeling out of sorts or shocked and it can take time to adjust. We can find ourselves feeling angry or disappointed from a change in the weather, or when our favourite cafe changes hands, or the local supermarket no longer stocks our favourite brand.
EVERYONE instinctively likes routines and habits and at the same time we can crave variety. It’s in our wiring to rely on certain things as constant, or reliable. Studies have shown that most of us will choose the same cubicle in a public bathroom every time we visit even if they are all vacant!
So how do we build our skills to cope with changes?
Here are some tips that might assist you build your ‘change’ resilience:
1. Acknowledge your emotions. The most important thing is to acknowledge that whatever you feel is OK, no matter how big or small the change is. Your emotions are valid and everyone is unique. What might completely shock or frustrate you could be completely neutral for another and both feelings are valid.
2. Acknowledge yourself. If you’re reading this article then you have faced changes big and small and you have survived. Think back to all the unexpected or expected events you have faced in your life, AND learned how to cope with. What did you do? How did you do it? Reflecting on your achievements is a great way to build your change resilience.
3. Talk to someone. It’s so important to maintain social connections and speak up about your feelings. While seeking support could be new for you, there are people in your life who want to listen and loads of people who care.
4. Consider the positives. What could be OK about this new situation? According to neuroscience expert Dr. Rick Hanson, we’re all hard wired to consider all the real or potential negatives before we even consider any good outcomes. He calls it our ‘negativity bias’.
See if you can come up with 5 aspects of the change that you could be ok with. For example, if you have to find a new doctor you might possibly find one who you might feel even more comfortable with, and there could be some good aspects of the new suburb you feel forced to move to.
5. Try something new more than once. If part of the change you are facing involves you trying something new, make a decision to give it a go more than once. While the latest research suggests that it takes at least 20 hours to learn a new skill, you might decide to join the new mothers meet up group 5 times before you decide if you’ll keep attending or not. Or you might try that new medical centre two times at least. Stick to a number before you decide.
There’s one thing we all have in common no matter where we are in life and what changes we might face. We ALL have the capacity to cope with change because we have all done it before, and with persistence, practice and an open mind, and maybe some support from others, we can continue to cope with change and keep moving forward in life.
‘Change is inevitable. Progress is optional.’ Tony Robbins