Plants gracefully adapt to change, and so do most living creatures. Transition is a normal part of the life cycle for all living things. But we women (and men) make the change process far more difficult than it needs to be. We fight and kick our way through it, even if the transition is one we’ve initiated.
Our complex thought processes help us to survive challenging circumstances. Yet these very same processes preclude us from thriving during times of change. While the family dog surrenders to change and may even make healthy adaptations to it (such as shedding her winter coat as warm weather approaches), our tendency is to overanalyze and worry. And all this pointless brain activity turns a natural process into a nightmare.
To complicate matters further, change is occurring at a faster rate than ever before. Ever-changing technology impacts every area of our lives. In fact, corporations pay “change management” gurus big bucks to help us learn to deal with change as effectively as do chameleons.
Transitions are difficult, even when we choose them, such as taking a better job or getting married. Transitions require that we let go of the past. This is hard for us, because we tend to stick with what’s familiar, even if it hurts.
Once we say goodbye to the past, we find ourselves in a kind of limbo, where we are disconnected from yesterday, yet not attached to tomorrow. “Limbo” is a time for reflection and introspection. It involves feelings of confusion, frustration and anxiety. But if we ride out the discomfort, we reach a stage where new possibilities exist.
Although we thinking beings will never handle change with the finesse of our plant and animal cousins, there is a way we can thrive during transitions.
The Solution: The Thriver’s Tool Kit
- Take one day at a time. Pondering future unknowns can be overwhelming. Try to focus only on the next thing to be done. And keep any long-term planning to a minimum.
- Take care of yourself. Rest, exercise and eat well. Self-care is more important now than ever. In the midst of change, hang on to routines and rituals that give you a sense of comfort and security. If you feel healthy and safe, change will come more easily.
- Accept yourself and the situation. Don’t squander even an ounce of energy fighting yourself or your situation. Accepting the way things are puts you in the best position to deal with change, and even capitalize on it.
- Allow your feelings. During a transition you can expect to feel some discomfort, such as anxiety, insecurity and frustration. These feelings are normal and temporary. Letting the feelings be there will help you move through the change process more quickly.
- Give yourself time. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Rushing through the change process may keep you from completing it effectively. Additionally, moving too fast may cause you to miss some very important insights along the way.
- Get your support system up and running. This is not the time to isolate from friends and family. Don’t be shy about letting loved ones know how they can be most helpful. Warning: Steer clear of toxic people!
- Have faith. Turning to a higher power can be helpful during times of change. And don’t forget the many times you have survived change in the past. Make a list of these times as a reminder.
If your transition is a particularly difficult one, you might consider hiring a Life Coach, or asking a wise friend to act as a sounding board. Whatever the circumstance, you’ll be amazed at your newfound ability to thrive in times of change.
Purcell, M. (2006). Don’t Think! Thrive Your Way Through Transition. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/dont-think-thrive-your-way-through-transition/
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.