Change is nerve-racking as it takes us out of our comfort zone. Change is a constant part of life. As human beings, our lives are the very definition of change. We are always growing, evolving, emerging.
If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change.
If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change.
John A Simone, Sr.
Change is a part of life that we must acknowledge and accept rather than resist and fight. Change is often scary and demands more from us than we are willing to give.
Change can be planned or can be unexpectedly forced upon us. With the planned change, we are better prepared for it. We might deliberately seek change as a way of getting out of an unwanted situation in which we find ourselves stuck.
We might have asked ourselves questions such as “What do I want?”, “What am I unhappy about?” and “What is required from me to change the situation?” This type of questioning opens the door to something new.
For example, we might realize that we are stuck in an area of our life that will require that we gain additional skills in order to move forward. The demands of learning new skills are a part of the change process. To accommodate these new demands, we will be prepared to willingly adjust circumstances in our life.
Because the benefits of the adjustments are a known quantity, the additional work that needs to be done rarely meets with resistance. When change is forced upon us it often leaves us running around in circles and confusion for some time.
With unexpected change, we find ourselves in uncharted territory that leads to a lot of stress.
Being Open to Change
Although change is scary it often leads us to move toward new opportunities and experiences.
When we are faced with change, being able to put it into the right perspective is crucial. This means considering thoroughly our reaction or response to it. This means thinking about what we will do and how we will handle it.
Being open implies that we appreciate change and recognize it as necessary for growth. In the words of Gail Sheehy, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow, if we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” When we are open to change, we are more likely to act from a place of courage, flexibility, and adaptability.
Few people resonate with the idea of embracing change. The contrary idea of resistance to change is often the first response.
However, when change is seen as beneficial then resisting it offers little or no value. By resisting we are refusing to open ourselves to the new perspectives and fresh prospects that change can bring.
We lose the opportunity to take the risks that will develop courage and resilience within us. In contrast, when we choose to embrace change that we see as beneficial, we can thoughtfully maneuver ourselves through the uncharted territory.
We can stay focused on the bigger picture rather than the disturbance and instability that abrupt change initially brings with it.
Fears that arise
The predominant fear that arises with change is the Fear of Uncertainty. It is stressing over the unforeseeable future, of the events and outcomes that are associated with change.
To mitigate this fear, it is a good idea to examine and analyze change. This analysis adds a level of certainty and preparedness, a roadmap of sorts through the new territory.
It is a good idea to analyze and examine closely the demands of change. Questions to ask could be:
- What exactly is happening?
- Am I in control?
- What is new here?
- How must I adapt?
- What are my options?
- What are the potential roadblocks?
- Am I challenged to the point of being stuck?
- What will happen if I don’t take action?
- What will happen if I take action?
- Do I need additional help navigating this change?
- Who could help me?
- What positive action could I take now?
- What are the expectations being placed on me?
- What is the cost-benefit of this change?
- What was gained?
- What was lost?
- How am I dealing with loss?
- What do I have to sacrifice?
- What basic needs are disturbed by this change?
- What is my internal self-talk? Is it one of acceptance or resistance?
Ways to manage the stress that change can bring
As I have mentioned throughout this article change is stressful. It demands more from our daily lives.
Being resilient and prepared helps to alleviate some of the stress. Some of the ways in which stress levels can be managed include exercise, journaling, prayer, affirmations, visualization, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing techniques.
An attitude of gratitude and acceptance can take us far when it comes to adjusting to change.
Knowing and accepting that change is demanding, risky, and expansive better equips us to handle it.