Our journey through life involves a series of changes - some major and many minor. Being able to adapt and respond effectively in a constantly changing world has become a necessary skill. And one that we can enhance and develop when we understand what goes on at a personal level when we are faced with change.
How we respond to change is a funny thing. There are times when we go out of our way to initiate change in our lives. For example, we may move house, city or country; change jobs or go back to school. In the last week, I have stopped teaching the daily yoga in the park classes and left my job at lululemon athletica. Although I have been apprehensive about such changes, I'm stimulated by the possibilities and opportunities that will emerge.
Like this, when we initiate the change, we are likely to define the experience as exciting. On the other hand, these same changes might be imposed on us by circumstance, or the design of another person, or our workplace. When change is imposed on us, our experience of the change is likely to be quite different. In these situations, we may feel threatened and fearful about the change, and focus heavily on negative outcomes. We may want little to do with the change and find ourselves resisting it fiercely.
When we resist change, we knowingly or unknowingly behave in ways that attempt to keep things 'the way they were'. Our attitudes and actions are not aligned with the new directions and we are likely to feel discomfort or tension as a result. To help ourselves move from resistance to acceptance, it can be useful to understand that there are varied reasons why people may resist or struggle with change it isn't simply because we think the old way is better.
When we find ourselves resisting or struggling with change, the first step is to ask ourselves WHY?
It May be Because... We Are Creatures of Habit!
Being able to do things the same way provides us with a large element of predictability, stability, and comfort in our lives.
It is important to recognize that it is natural to feel out of sorts and frustrated from time-to-time when we are embarking in new directions. Doing things differently takes effort and the course is never really clear. During periods of change, when things are uncertain and unpredictable, we may fear or worry about the unknown. We may be anxious about where we are headed, and what the future will look like. We generally have a high need for information, and yet it is common for information to be sketchy or incomplete. To help ourselves adapt to uncertainty or ambiguity it's helpful to break things down; look at how the change will affect our immediate situation, clarify things that seem unclear and to take one step at a time.
To minimize worry about what lies ahead ask yourself the question 'is there anything that I can do about this matter?' If yes, then identify the action to be taken. If not, acknowledge that 'I have no control over this matter' and focus on those things that you can influence.
Having a positive orientation towards change will also go a long way. The phrase - "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" reminds me to encourage optismsim and a can-do attiude in the face of adversity or unfortunate changes. It is important to be aware of our stress levels, and to take special care of ourselves during these times. This means ensuring that we are getting enough rest, eating healthily, and participating in yoga or activities to help one connect to oneself.
We each have an active role to play in how we respond and adapt to change that we experience in life. Understanding this will make it much easier to take advantage of the opportunities for learning, and personal growth that do exist amidst change.