Updated: May 23
Change is something in life that is inevitable. Life is not a straight line. It comes with its loops, twists and bends. Change can be scary or exciting, sudden or gradual. Even a mixture! There are changes that are expected, then there are unexpected changes. It can be as a result of an external factor or a consequence of our decision. One change we all had to come to terms with in 2020 was life under lockdown. Living through a pandemic.
Change, especially when deemed ‘negative’, can be hard for people to deal with due to:
Fear of the unknown – not knowing what the outcome of the situation.
Losing control of life – feeling as if you are no longer holding the reins. No longer steering your own life potentially resulting in a burnout out or ‘crash’.
Life doesn’t seem to go to plan – The change is not a change that is desired, and it wasn’t foreseen or what you had in mind.
The above reasons are all very similar and link together. The question is, how do we deal with change? What are some ways we can cope when these feelings arise?
A few ways we can cope when change arises include:
Practising being in the present
Developing a growth mindset
Implementing these ways can ultimately lead to becoming resilient. The Collins Dictionary defines resilience as being “able to recover easily and quickly from unpleasant or damaging events”. As a qualified Early Years Teacher I‘ve learned how to instil resilience into young children. However, I believe that the following are lessons I’ve learnt constantly throughout life.
The first step in coming to terms with change is accepting that a change has been made. Whether it foreseeable or not, when we learn to accept our circumstance it does not mean being stagnant and not taking action. It means being mindful and acknowledging the uncomfortable, sad or distressful feelings and instead of avoiding, experiencing them. Emotions are there to guide us and give us signals as to what is going on. With children, it is important that we teach them to label their emotions so that they can understand what they are feeling and why. It sets a foundation to allow the child to either seek comfort or comfort themselves and move on.
In terms of acceptance, one must choose to recognise that a change has taken place. In most cases there is no going back, or avoiding but one can only choose to move forward, accept the change and adapt to it.
Practising being in the Present
An extended part of acceptance is living in the present. When things change, it is so easy to drift into the habit of yearning for the former or thinking “what if”. For instance, if a different decision was made or the change was a desired shift. Being in the present means just that. Learning to live in the here and now. Thinking on the past won’t bring the past back.
To simplify this, an example that comes to mind is regarding the children. A simple transition from being outside to going inside. I have seen many children struggle with change of environment. They begin to cry or start demanding to go back outside. There are even those that will attempt to stay outside by running away or hiding. This is similar to us who are more mature. We try and resist the change or refuse to accept the point and place in which we are at now. This is where self-discipline kicks in. Understanding that this change is now reality and learning to adapt and move forward. Which leads me to my next point…
Developing a Growth Mindset
Part of developing a growth mindset is acceptance as we previously spoke about, but it doesn’t just stop there. Life is funny in the sense that we can’t choose nor predict the cards we are dealt. Even though this is the case, we can learn to handle our cards wisely. If a change does occur, we can:
Learn a lesson from it – Learning to make better decisions. Learning to be intentional with our actions and choices. Altering our approaches to life and certain situations. Taking a principle from the situation that can be applied to life.
Create an action plan to deal with it – If needs be, lay out a plan of steps you can take to develop as a person and move forward in the situation. This plan can be written down so you can use it as a visual if you ever lose track.
For example, I recently moved out of London to the Midlands to start a new job. I was excited about the change but as it is all new I constantly feel anxious. I thought I was going to be excited and it was going to be easy. Complete opposite. In order to help me deal with my feelings of anxiety and to stay grounded, I have written out a plan of 1) my future goals and how I will use this change to get there
2) Lessons I can learn from how I am currently feeling and how to best deal with these emotions whenever they arise
Reframe the event or occurrence into a positive experience – What things are there to be grateful for in your current position in life? How can you use this change to your advantage?
All in all, life really can be challenging but it’s not something we were made to do on our own. If you need support, there are people to talk to. Professionals that can help if you are having persistent low moods or are feeling constantly on edge. Additionally, it is also good to talk to those around you; loved ones. When you talk to others you have a chance to rationalise your thoughts and see things such as ‘changes’ from a different perspective.
Change is inevitable. We can’t choose how the path of life is laid out; we can only decide how we are going to travel along it. We can either let the bumps along the way knock us off path or help us to slow down in this fast paced world and move along steadily and wisely.
Written by Tanesha