After writing Appreciating Sixty Years, I was in awe of all the changes we’ve experienced in this amount of time. Most of the changes denote a great deal of progress and are fun to reflect on. However, there are many changes which can make us sad and distraught. I was reminded of this as I posted The Blessing of Adversity, a church talk Mark gave 25 years ago, just four months before our car accident. In just a moment, our life quickly changed in the most unexpected ways.
How can we prepare for change? Some incidents catch us completely off guard and we have no time to prepare. I’ve listed some of my favorite tips from two different websites I researched realizing there will be situations which we cannot completely prepared for.
- Simply notice that you’re in the midst of change which is part of life. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it takes some practice to become aware of change instead of subconsciously denying it. Don’t try to run from it. If you have a journal, write about changes you notice.
- Face your feelings about the change, especially when the change is imposed and beyond your control. Get past “Why me?” “But I don’t want to!” and “It’s not fair!” Figure out what your fears or worries are. You don’t have to be a victim, even when you are not in control of the change. Write about your feelings.
- Adopt an attitude of anticipation. Welcome change as an opportunity. Find the benefit somewhere in the change. There is always a benefit and an opportunity. Write down the things you are grateful for. As you recognize the advantages you will notice a more powerful attitude of anticipation.
- Choose your thoughts and attitudes about each change. Negative thoughts block your creativity and problem-solving abilities. Positive thoughts build bridges to possibilities and opportunities.
- Learn to relax more. Deep breathing works for many people. Exercise also helps. Choose the way that works best for you. Relaxation allows you to deal well with change.
- Set smart goals so you can consciously guide the change. Smart goal setting helps you decide how to make the change happen and to recognize your successes. Write out your goals and your plans to meet them.
- Cut yourself slack. Recognize change is hard and making allowances for it helps. We are better able to make the transition by being gentle with ourselves.
- Keep the familiar. The familiar feels comforting and can re-center us when we feel thrown off. So keeping what is familiar in the midst of change—sticking to a familiar routine, doing familiar work, seeing familiar people, going to familiar places—helps tremendously.
- Get help. Some changes are especially hard. The important thing is to get through them in the healthiest way possible. Sometimes, that means getting help from others – family, friends, colleagues, and mental health professionals. There is nothing wrong with getting help. Suffering silently and indefinitely when other options are available is pointless.
- Find a new normal. The familiar feels good because it feels normal. Change feels hard because it doesn’t feel normal. As long as we keep trying to find the old normal in our changed situation, we will continue to struggle because the old normal no longer exists. But a new normal is possible. When we establish new patterns for ourselves, those new patters start to feel familiar and become our new normal and that new normal feels good too.
What tips can you share in how to deal with change?