How to Deal With Change

Dealing with change is hard. Like, really hard. Think back over the past year. How many changes did you go through?

We had to deal with a pandemic, which ultimately meant lost businesses, maybe lost employment and even lost lives. These are really challenging, hard changes that were mostly out of our control. We didn’t want them and we didn’t want to deal with them. At the same time, during the pandemic, there were good changes too. Things like finding a new passion, like photography or repurposing furniture, or even improving our health by getting more sleep and moving our body more. These kinds of changes are good and positive and improve our lives. Regardless of whether changes are negative or positive, many of us don’t like change at all.

Many of us don’t like change for one of two reasons:

  1. We lose control over the situation or the environment we’re in.
  2. The change forces us to lack or lose consistency in our life.

Which is it for you? For me, it’s about the control piece. As a Type 1 on the enneagram scale, I hate change because I like the idea of having things perfect. When there’s change and I can’t control the change, I don’t even have the ability to make sure things are perfect. Granted, nothing in life is perfect…trust me, I know. If you don’t like change either, you’re not alone.

With change, there can be big changes and small changes. This whole concept is subjective. My husband and I were talking about changes and when I said a hair cut was a small change, he disagreed. His response was that a hair cut for a patient going through cancer treatment was life changing…and he’s right. Changes for me that I consider small could be huge to you. Vice versa with my big changes being small for you.

I did a lot of thinking about this and landed on finances as an example we could use for both. Think about debt. For some, their debt is huge and for others, it’s very small or non-existent. When it comes to debt, paying off all of it could be a huge change while paying off just one bill could be a small change. Point in showing you this is that with change, whether it’s negative or positive, is that you need to celebrate all the wins you experience with change. Especially the small ones! The reason for this is because of the compound effect. When we celebrate the small wins, they compound over time and become huge wins in the end.

Getting back to the changes that we go through, think about the emotions that come along with them. With changes that we want, the emotions we feel are positive and enjoyable. Changes like an increased income, losing weight or moving to a warmer climate, for example. But what about the other side? When there’s a change that takes place that we don’t want, the emotions can be very negative. It can feel like the change is being forced upon us. Examples could be losing a job, being forced to work overtime (when you’ve got kids at home to take care of) and gaining weight.

There is a way to deal with the change regardless if it’s positive or negative, though. How? Here are my tips for getting through change and coming out on top.

Process your emotions as they come. Yes, there will be a lot of emotions you experience – sadness, joy, happiness, fear, etc. And with those emotions might come reactions you’re not expecting. If you need to cry, then do it. If you need to laugh, then do it! Go through that emotion and feel it. If you try to push it down, it’ll come up later on tenfold.

Create a Pros & Cons List. I love doing this because it works for just about anything. When you create a list like this, in almost all cases, you have more items on one side or the other. Once you have that list, you can create a plan and make it happen. This allows you to know what you’re going to expect in the future.

See the positives. Yes, there are some. There always are. In any change, there is a silver lining. During the pandemic, many of us learned to slow down and start to take care of ourselves. Quitting one job and moving on to another may allow for more freedom. Sometimes you have to look really hard, but I promise you, positives are everywhere!

Find a healthy coping mechanism. Whether you love to run, read with a cup of tea or journal, a coping mechanism is a must. But it must be healthy! Don’t go out and eat or drink your pain away because that doesn’t benefit anyone. The activity you choose should be energizing, help you clear your mind and see things as they truly are, without emotion.

Be open to the change. Listen, you don’t have to like it. But being open to it is helpful because it makes the “pill” easier to swallow. When you’re open to the idea of making a shift, you can see both sides of the equation and understand that the change is happening for a reason. It might take time for you to see this, but you will see that there is a reason – maybe you need to learn something, maybe you need to feel something. Whatever it is, be open and willing.

Without change, we wouldn’t have new technology or bigger and better cars for us to use. We also wouldn’t have our own personal growth. Change is inevitable and will always be here (just like stress) so instead of fighting it, go with it. In almost all cases, you will be ok in the end.

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