Dealing with change can be difficult, it happens to all of us so learning and understanding change is key. Everybody deals with change in different ways; there is no set way. Janice Haddon reveals why we find it so difficult to deal with change and how to deal with it in a positive way.
The one thing we can be sure of in life is that things change! Nothing stays the same no matter how hard we try. When a major part of our life changes, it is common for us to experience highs or lows. We all go through a cycle of emotions when change hits us- the speed, timing and how we deal with it, varies from person to person. Understanding that it is ‘normal’ for us to experience these feelings can often help so we don’t feel our life is unraveling at the seams!
Change impacts us all in many different ways and in all areas of our lives. There is no getting away from it so having the skills and strategies in how to deal with things is key. If you are experiencing a particular change right now, you first need to understand what is happening, the impact it is having on you and then how you can positively deal with it.
So why do we find it difficult when a change comes along?
Some changes and life experiences fit with how we view ourselves – how we want life to be. Other changes can completely shatter this view and alter how we thought things would turn out to be.
We may have seen our job or career heading in a certain direction, how our personal relationships would turn out, what our future would be like. When we make changes that we are in control of – the things that we choose to change – then these things will generally be supportive of how we see our future. When we do not choose the change, it can have an impact on us that makes us want to ‘deny’ the change – to find a way of stopping it happening so we can go back to how we want things to be.
So when change is forced on us we can cling to what we know rather than something that we don’t have any experience of. We cling to how things used to be or try to create things how we want them to be rather than accepting a change that someone else is forcing on us where we feel out of control.
Our behaviour and how we react to change emanates from our sense of self and from our personal values. Our behaviours and values are built up and learnt from the experiences that we have had in life, all those things that have happened to us, right from an early age.
Our brain never treats anything as a completely new experience – we always go back into our ‘memory archives’ to look for a similar experience. This then informs us how to behave or react in the situation we are currently facing.
With things that are repetitive to us – like driving a car or eating, we don’t have to consciously think about what to do next – we just do it. About 80% of our behaviours actually come from this ‘unconscious’ part of our brain – things we can do automatically without really thinking about it. Likewise, when something happens that is seen as a positive thing for us, something that supports our values, experiences and vision of our future, then this part of our brain will allow us to embrace the change and move forward.
With all change it is important to get clarity. To help you get clarity, it is important to understand what is happening, what the impact on you is and what options you have. Weigh up your options – look at the pros and cons of each one and decide the best course of action to take. Then set yourself some goals. Successful people have goals – they will give you focus and direction and help you to keep on track when ‘emotions’ might take over.
Not having goals will leave you reacting to daily circumstances and can make you feel even more out of control. When you have goals in place it will help you to keep motivated to succeed and will under-pin a more positive attitude for getting through the change. .
Here’s how to set successful goals
Always take time to consider what it is you want to achieve – sometimes we get caught up in day-to-day things.
• Work out what you want to achieve
• Know by when you are going to achieve it
• Break it down into chunks and decide when you are going to achieve each thing by
• Tell someone about it – that will encourage you to get on with things!
So – nothing ever stays the same – of that much we are guaranteed.
If you are finding it difficult to come to terms with a change in your life right now or are experiencing a high level or range of emotions, then know that this is a temporary experience. You will get through it and start to feel different soon. If a change you are facing wasn’t quite what you had in mind – start looking at how you can get through it – look at your options and chose the best course of action. Allow yourself time to visualise a different future and how you can make the most of the differences. Sometimes when we look back at changes in our life that we have resisted – we can see that it was the best thing that could have happened – even if it didn’t feel like it at the time.
Remember, you are more than your current circumstances.
Once you understand change, you may start to welcome it a bit more. Don’t forget that you are in charge of your own life and your own future – no one else is! If a change is being ‘forced’ on you – make your own choices about how you can go forward as a result of it.
Grab hold of it! You can create your own positive future and more importantly, your own positive present.
‘Change is a way of growing beyond the person you thought you were into the deeper, stronger person you will become.’ – Susan Squellati Florence.
Janice Haddon is Managing Director at Morgan Redwood and Founder of Thrive in Life. She has over 25 years’ experience in strategic and operational Human Resources and management consultancy.