Every change, big or small, has some impact. Arm yourself with this eight-point guide.
No matter how safe, secure, predictable and stable your life is, you will still have to cope with change at points along the way. Change is a normal and essential part of life, yet, ironically, when we’re in the middle of it, it feels anything but normal.
Changes can be enormous – a marriage, new home, baby, new job, divorce, bereavement.
Everyone knows that these levels of change can be very stressful and difficult to cope with. But small changes can have a big impact too, though they are often underestimated. Things like a new routine in your day, losing or gaining weight, cutting your hair short, changing a room around, not seeing a familiar face any more, can affect you for some time.
It doesn’t make any difference whether you’ve chosen the change or not, it will still have an impact on you. Imagine deciding on something as small as sleeping without a pillow.
At first it would feel odd, you wouldn’t be able to get to sleep, you’d wake up in the night with a sense of loss, and wonder whether you’d ever get used to it. It might be a couple of months before sleeping without a pillow felt normal to you. And that’s the real point: change can’t be rushed. It’s about the transition from one set of circumstances to another, and that takes time.
Some people love change and make changes in their lives often. Too often, though, and there’s a danger of becoming bored too easily and getting hooked on the new. Others dread change and agonise through it. But most of us are somewhere in the middle, enjoying a certain amount of change, but not too much.
The trouble with change is that it has a cluster effect. One change often seems to be followed by several more, and it can feel as though your whole world is changing. So here’s my guide to coping with change as easily as possible:
1) Expect a reaction – People often say: ‘I don’t know why it’s affected me so much’, and criticise themselves for crying, laughing, or feeling moody. All these, and every other emotion, are normal in the face of change – any change.
2) Let yourself grieve – Change, no matter how good it is, means loss. When something in your life changes you lose the old way of being or the old set of circumstances. And loss means grief and nostalgia.
3) Go with the flow – Resist and be rigid in the face of change and it will be a lot more painful. The secret is to be flexible and you can ride it out more easily. Think of yourself like a boat in a storm. Turn against the waves and they’ll crush you, go with them and they’ll carry you home.
4) Hang onto the familiar – If the change is big then keep up many familiar things as you can – and remind yourself of how much in your life isn’t changing. Stick to your usual routines, see people you normally see, and reassure yourself that not everything has to change just because some things have.
5) Get support – Don’t try to cope alone or keep your feelings to yourself. Talk about it, have a hug, a laugh, a cup of tea and a bit of reassurance. Being brave doesn’t always mean managing alone, it may mean finding the courage to ask for help.
6) Divide it up – When possible, divide bigger changes into smaller steps. For instance, a house move, a wedding or a divorce involves several stages. When you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the change, concentrate on the step you’ve reached, rather than the bigger picture.
7) Find the good in it – Some changes feel awful – death, illness, financial loss and many others can feel like the end of the world. Sometimes you have to look very hard to find the blessing in such changes, but there always is one. It’s through change that we grow wiser and stronger and learn to make better decisions.
8) Know that it will end – All change comes to an end when the new circumstances are in place and become familiar to you. Every change, no matter how big, will end and you’ll return to a feeling of normality. Keep this in mind when you feel as though you’re in the middle of a bumpy ride.
If you have found the above helpful and are interested in receiving my ‘7 Tips for How To Deal With Change’ please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.