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How to deal with change

M. Scott Peck’s book, “The Road less Travelled”, begins with these words: “Life is difficult”.

Not only is life difficult, life is all about change.  We deal with and face change every day.

The challenge for most of us is how we deal with change, how we manage it, not simply that we have change to deal with the whole time.

Managing change well means less work, more time to feel content, less stress, more feelings of joy and being “alive”.

Here are five simple ideas that I’ve found helpful in managing the changes in my life:

  • Understand that change is inevitable.

We don’t have any evidence that the future will be like the past – obviously as it is the future, we’ve not been there – so how can we make that assumption?  Once we understand that tomorrow will be different we can accept changes more readily when they come. Sure, the future is often much like the past, but it is always so different in many ways; even in simple ways like the change in weather from day to day.

  • Learn to appreciate (even enjoy) change.

This sounds tough, but when you think about it, change often causes stress.  However, the body does not know the difference between positive stress (exercising for health) and negative stress (too much alcohol).  We make the negative in our minds – just think about that diet – is it going to be easy or hard?  We can just as simply be excited about change, rather than taking the opposite view and feel threatened and upset.  Sure, this doesn’t get over the initial “shock” of the news of the change.

  • Work towards the changes you want.

We know change is coming – it is part of life.  We may not like the situation in which change comes about – losing a job, not getting a promotion.  What can we do to make the change more pleasant?  We can make sure that we are pro-active in helping the changes we want.  What job do I really want, what sort of relationship do I really want – it is all a little selfish, but that’s absolutely right in these circumstances.

  • Keep the change in perspective.

Sometimes we get totally overwhelmed by the idea of change to the extent that we see every change as a threat.  Some changes are important – these affect our lives more fully than other.  By picking the battles, we can spend more time learning to deal with the larger changes in our lives and less on the worry about the small ones.  Pick the changes that really matter.

  • Chill Out – Relax.

You’ve done the hard work by now – you know change is happening, you’re enjoying it, working for the changes you want in your life and in your circumstances and you’ve sussed out which are major and minor changes.  So stop, see the sunset, sip a cocktail and enjoy your life.
So why not start now?  Here are some thought provoking (stress-less) questions for you to spend some time with over the next while.

Review the most recent changes in your life – take some time to remember these and write them down.  With each of them ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did you see them coming?
  • How did you feel – excited or stressed – and try and work out why?
  • How did others see you in this time – stressed or excited?
  • What might happen if you reversed your feelings – take one where you were excited and see how you might have felt if you’d been stressed about it?
  • Would the outcome have been different if you’d felt differently?
  • Think about how you can begin to see and understand that change is inevitable.

The next time you experience a major change, practice feeling excited rather than stressed.

Now, pick one thing you would like to change - what can you do to make that happen?

Go on, start making the list of things that you can do to make this happen and then (here comes the dare) start doing those things.

Creating Possibilities and Finding Solutions

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