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Mentally Prepare for and Embrace Change

The Doe Team

by The Doe Team

| January 25, 2022

How can we be better at dealing with change and even embracing it?

One thing that never changes is that things fluctuate in both our personal lives and in society. Our reluctance to embrace change also, well, never seems to change. In our personal lives, at work, in our families and in society at large, if something isn’t evolving, it will be soon enough. 

What Change Looks Like

Change doesn’t look the same for everyone. For some, change might mean dropping everything and moving to a new country. For others, it might mean trying a new brand of coffee. No matter the scale, though, change is frequently cause for anxiety. An article from Psychology Today reminds us that people like the familiar. Familiar things suggest safety, while new and different things suggest risk. This is why it can be hard to embrace change.

While we all experience change in a unique way, there are four basic types of change we encounter in life:

    1. Life-Interrupted Change: These shifts are caused by external occurrences, like death, elections, natural disasters, world events, etc.
    2. Professional Change: These adjustments happen in the workplace and be anything from a small policy fix to a promotion or staffing change.
    3. Lifestyle Change: Any update to how you live your daily life would fall into this bucket. Perhaps you started going to the gym, moved to a new house or got a new schedule.
    4. Transformational Change: This refers to any sort of change to who we are as individuals and can be anything from a small update (like a new haircut) to significant foundation change (converting to a new religion). 

Fluctuations in our lives can be good, bad or even a little of both. Any one of these occurrences can trigger anxiety and also present new opportunities. While you may not be able to exercise much control over big changes, you can learn to manage your responses to those events.

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Responding to and Embracing Change

The best thing you can do when responding to change is understand how your reactions can affect your actions. Here’s how self-improvement expert Jack Canfield suggests you think about change:

Event + Response = Outcome

Events happen and we respond, creating an outcome. Events may be out of our control, but responses to those events are something the average person has the power to influence.

Two common tactics we use to deal with negative emotions caused by change can be prove useful: 

  1. Try to be analytical. The more fraught the change, the more it helps to pretend you are looking at the situation from an outside perspective. How would you advise a friend to deal with this scenario? Separating your emotions from the experience can help you gain perspective and manage your response.
  2. Adopt practical techniques for managing stress. Mindfulness meditation may help if the change is a big one. Breathing, exercising, taking a walk or even petting your cat may help as well. Understanding how you find mental and emotional relief can make it easier to deal with change.

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Change means opportunity, and focusing on the opportunities at hand makes it easier to avoid certain negative behaviors. Ask yourself: What is good in this situation? What opportunities might open up to you? Are you worried about nothing or overreacting? 

Once you’ve done some analytical thinking about the situation, you may see a way to benefit from the change. For example, maybe you lost a job unexpectedly. You are anxious about being jobless, but you have also been wishing for more independence and more control over your schedule. Use this major change event to refocus on your schedule. Maybe you can make a quick transition into full-time freelance work, or you could use your free time to learn a skill that increases your earning potential.

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Things to Avoid When Dealing With Change

There are positive and negative ways to cope with change. Some of the counterproductive things people do are almost automatic, which is why they need to be called out. Here are some things you want to stay away from if you are struggling to embrace a change:

  • Lashing out at other people. It can be tempting to let stress or worry bubble up in the form of anger. This is a quick way to add unnecessary stress to an already tough situation. 
  • Pretending to be unaffected. Changes that bring opportunity can also bring stress and worry. Pretending not to feel these natural emotions can be bad for your physical and mental health.
  • Inventing disastrous scenarios. No one can predict the future, so inventing future problems for yourself will not help. Do your best to avoid catastrophizing.

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Understand and Embrace Change

Embrace change by realizing it can be a good thing. Recognize that whatever happens may be tough, but it also offers opportunities for growth and self-improvement. Even if things look bad, you can manage the negatives by practicing the tricks mentioned here. Looking for more resources like this one? Subscribe to our blog.

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