How to cope with change?

Contrary to what we might think; change is difficult. If I want to change there is some stress, but if that change if forced on someone it is even more difficult. The more areas of change that are occurring in one’s life, the greater the impact. For example: If someone loses their job, have to leave my friends and move to a new unknown place, the factors would be cumulative. These undesired changes will affect that person emotionally adding more impact. However, if someone just got engaged, received a promotion at work, and just found out that a long-awaited pregnancy had taken place, then change is welcomed. This change will still need to be managed; but, with a different mentality.

The fact is that we cannot control most of the environmental factors that occur in our life. Of course we think that we can so this costs us emotionally energy as well. We might blame ourselves for some of these changes and this will also add more damage. Our age might play a part as well. When we are younger we might handle change as an adventure and look forward to this new start in our lives. As we get older and enjoy our routines these types of changes can be more difficult.

In terms of myself, my personality dictates that I do not like change no matter what age I have been experiencing. I say that I only like to change two things: my clothes and my food. Anything else is suspect and stressful. These changes challenge my/our sense of safety. We know and are familiar with our current situation but being unsure of the future causes us to cling to the past.

Can’t Do It:

It is important to realize that we CANNOT control certain aspects of our life. I love the serenity prayer that states:

“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Mentally this puts us in a place where we can organize our changes. That does not mean that we deny their impact.

Grieve:

We need to grieve the losses that we cannot change. Grieving means that we acknowledge that it is a loss and state those losses. We give ourselves permission to be angry about those aspects but then eventually we need to accept them and tap into our spiritual resources to gain the strength to cope with these losses. Gaining a sense of acceptance does not mean that the issue is settled. One might need to do this several times.

To those issues that we can change we need to try to access our mental energies to develop a plan to change them. Do we need help to make this plan? Be sure to reach out to other people that can encourage us to find solutions. Handling change by oneself is more difficult. Sometimes our pride gets in the way of inviting others to help us with this journey.

A Little Grace:

We need to be graceful with ourselves. Be sure to set aside sufficient time to adjust to all the activities that are required to make the change. Be sure to acknowledge any emotions and deal with them appropriately. These emotions are part of the journey. They need to be accepted as well.

The word ‘crisis’ in Chinese means either danger or opportunity. We need to do all we can to see it as an opportunity. This is a choice. As difficult changes are occurring we need to have a talk with ourselves and convince ourselves that the fears we have are just that—fear. Fear of change and its unknown aspects can block our view of the possibilities that await us if we stay focused on what we can change. Be sure to “treat” yourself along the way. Go out with your friends and reminisce the events that you shared. Make a plan to stay in contact. Connect with the new location if this is part of the change. Try to form connections in the next location. One step at a time, living one day at a time without fretting over the future unknown.

Change does not need to be overwhelming; but needs to be managed properly if we want to achieve more positive outcomes. Join the journey! Make it an adventure! See God’s hand in these changes and believe that they can bring further blessings as we look forward to His plan for the future.

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