Coping With Change: 4 Ways to Survive Any Major Life Event

When a crisis hits, follow these simple steps.

GaudiLab/ Shutterstock
GaudiLab/ Shutterstock

So many of us feel lost. We don’t know where to turn. We don’t trust ourselves or those around us. We’re destabilized by uncertainty. We feel disappointed, disoriented, and disillusioned. We’re overwhelmed. We lean too easily on fear instead of faith.

There’s a reason for that. It’s because we don’t know how to cope with Change.

But Change is the very definition of what it means to live because life is experienced only through Change. Change is the natural order of things. One moment turns into another turns into another. Energies shift and then shift again. Nothing ever stays the same except for Change itself. So what happens when we resist, defy, or avoid Change? We try to make a moment something other than what it is. We interrupt the natural order and create disorder in our lives because we’re attempting to defy a fundamental law, like trying to make rain fall upward. It’s simply impossible. The laws of our universe won’t allow it. The very fabric of our reality is imbued with Change. When we defy it, we defy ourselves. We lose our way. This process unfolds simply and predictably over time: 

  • Change appears in the form of something unforeseen.
  • We feel uncertain, anxious, frustrated, worried, and fearful at this unexpected turn of events. 
  • We resist Change by creating stories of how we think things should’ve turned out.
  • Our stories cause us to suffer because they are incongruent with reality. 
  • Suffering is disorienting and makes us give up our power of free will. 
  • When we feel powerless to choose, we abandon ourselves and feel lost. 

There’s no telling what we’ll do when we feel lost. We spiral. We waste precious time. We fall out of alignment with ourselves. We block our blessings. We make unclear choices. We subvert our best interests. We act out in fear. We numb. We refuse to feel our feelings. We bury our love with resentment. We reach for any coping mechanism possible. We fall from grace.

Change can be scary to experience, difficult to process, and harder yet to accept. But it’s also the law of life. Whether it’s a brutal breakup, a devastating death, a jarring job loss, a debilitating diagnosis, or a perilous pandemic; Change has a way of breaking open our hearts for something bigger, brighter, and bolder to enter our lives. But only if we know how to converse with it. That’s why I developed a model for how to not just embrace Change, but completely transform your relationship with it. A key component of my new book, It’s Good to See Me Again: How to Find Your Way When You Feel Lost, the RACE Model for Change is comprised of four simple steps:

  1. Resist one thing only: Your resistance to Change.
  2. Accept what you cannot Change so you may let go.
  3. Choose to Change what you can by reclaiming your power to choose.
  4. Embrace Change by remaining open to it in the future.

Follow this model and you will always find your way back home to you. Choose to embark on this journey and you will learn to befriend Change. Choose the path of highest good laid out for you and you will finally realize that it’s good to see me again.

4 Ways to Survive Any Major Life Event

1.  Resist one thing only: Your resistance to Change.

What is resistance?

Resistance is nothing more than the refusal to accept one moment changing into another, to believe that one moment isn’t acceptable as it is and to think it should be swapped for another moment instead. It reveals itself as a defiance of reality, a rebellion against something that can’t be changed, an insistence of how things should be, the rejection of the facts in favor of a story.

What does resisting look like?

Life feels like a tug of war for those who can’t accept the truth of the present moment. You keep pushing and pulling, resisting and denying, until you’re thrown from your position and dragged through the mud. It all starts with an idea in your head of how things should be. When this expectation isn’t met, you feel slighted by the Universe. You think: Why can’t things be the way I imagined them? There must be something wrong with me, you falsely conclude. But the only thing wrong is the way you’re showing up for circumstances in front of you. In any given moment your inability to accept reality is directly proportional to your lack of faith in the Universe. You would rather be right than simply let go and let God. You would rather perpetuate drama than be at peace. 

What you’re really saying, though, is that deep down you don’t think you deserve better. If you really felt that way, you would let things unfold as they are because you’d know in your heart of hearts that you’d find your way forward no matter what happens. You might feel like your heart’s shattered into a thousand pieces yet somehow, some way, you will be put back together. You will be raised up to light and shown how strong you are. You will be golden. 

Instead, we prefer to tug and tug and tug. We insist and control and demand that things happen a certain way. When they don’t, we are put in a state of incontrovertible shock, dismay, and overwhelm. This is what gives rise to our reluctance to accept reality. When we avoid the truth of a situation, we amplify its gravitas, causing suffering in our hearts and our lives. We are thrown by the tug of war each time. The more suffering we endure, the more we avoid or resist, since ultimately all resistance is an avoidance of the perceived pain of Change—a denial of the lesson laid out for us on our path.

How do we give up resisting?

To break this tug of war, we must relinquish how we think things should be, and embrace how they are instead. We must accept what arises as it comes and do our best to live in a state of nonresistance, never trying to preserve a moment or protect ourselves from it. We can drop the rope or prepare for the burns. It’s up to us.

2. Accept what you cannot Change so you may let go.

What is acceptance?

Acceptance means coming to terms with what has happened. It is a translation. Acceptance takes everything that we’ve misunderstood about our past and expresses it in the language of love and redemption. We reframe our stories through acceptance. Like rain that falls on a forest engulfed in flames, acceptance douses our doubts and dismisses our despair, helping to clear the air of destruction and resuscitate our love, joy, and peace.

Acceptance is the antidote to resistance. It takes our fearful stories and returns them to love. We are healed when we welcome acceptance into our lives with open arms. When we accept what has happened, we put a salve on our heart. A thought, a chapter, an era is finally finished. We can mend. 

The past cannot be changed. Death cannot be reversed. The court of logic cannot convince your heart. These are essential truths of our existence. And what cannot be changed must be bravely, fearlessly, radically accepted.

How do we practice acceptance?

Acceptance is the key to the chains that bind us to our pain. When we acknowledge, allow, and accept what has come to pass, we are no longer enslaved to it. Freedom is always available to those who are willing to welcome acceptance into their hearts again and again and again. This stuff takes work. It is rarely a simple one-and-done affair. So how do we actually practice radical forgiveness? We accept what cannot be changed by doing the work of accepting. Here’s what you need to be willing to do:

3. Choose to Change what you can by reclaiming your power to choose.

What is free will?

Free will simply means that you have the power to choose. It is God-given and inherently yours.

We make hundreds if not thousands of different choices each and every day. These choices can be quick and straightforward, like the ones we make first thing in the morning. Or they can be conscious and deliberate, like the ones we make when we buy a car or house or decide whom to marry. Choices come in all shapes and sizes but there are really only two categories of choices: Conscious and unconscious. With every choice we make we are consciously or unconsciously choosing to wield our willpower again and again. 

The ability to choose is nothing short of incredible. In any given moment, you have the power to consciously create your reality, to breathe life into your dreams. Your life is a sculpture. You get to shape and mold it, removing what no longer makes sense and adding elements that give new dimension and character to your art. This is your masterpiece. You get to choose which form it takes. 

These decisions are yours and yours alone to make. That’s why it’s imperative to treat your choices with careful consideration and conscious awareness. Everything you choose creates your reality. Most of this happens unconsciously and automatically. That is also a choice. You get to choose if you will consciously make your choices or whether you will run through life on unconscious autopilot. Pay attention to the choices you make and you can completely transform your life.

How do we make better choices?

The right answers always start with the right questions. If you want to make better choices, you have to take an honest inventory of your life. That will require self-exploration and self-reflection. This process will ask more of you than you may be used to giving. Grant yourself the permission to focus on yourself for a while. Take time and space away from others to get still and get clear about your motivations. Allow yourself to question your choices in an inquisitive and nonjudgmental manner. This is about getting to the root of why you act one way and not another—or what to do when you come to a time-honored fork in the road. You will need to get up close and personal with yourself to do this. It is when we put these areas of our lives under a microscope that we can see more clearly. 

When we are willing to explore this uncharted territory—when we are willing to venture into the unknown—we start to understand what spurs our choices and what our actions are trying to tell us about ourselves. This knowledge is powerful. It gives us the data we need to take informed and enlightened action. 

There’s an infinite number of choices we can make, but there’s a finite number of areas in our lives in which we can make them. We really only have the power to change two things: Our inner world and our outer orbit. At any given moment, we are choosing to wield our power over one or both of these two areas. Everything is a combination of these two centers of gravity. 

Our inner world is ultimately all about how we pay attention. We have the means to cultivate peace by challenging our negative thoughts and selecting those that lift us instead of limit us. We’re able to identify our purpose and take steps toward living within it. We can accept our spiritual assignments, follow the signs from the Universe, and live life openly, curiously, and unapologetically. The way we look at the world has a disproportionate and direct impact on the way we show up for it. When choosing to change your life, it’s vital to start with the internal lens through which we view our external environment. 

Our outer orbit, on the other hand, is all about our intention. What matters to us? Why is that so? How do we live our best lives? When it comes to our environment, we possess the power to choose what we allow to influence us. We can’t control what happens around us. But we can choose those things with which we associate—we can consciously and carefully select what we allow into our orbit to begin with.

4. Embrace Change by remaining open to it in the future.

How do we stay open to Change?

Keeping an open mind and an open heart is a choice we make consciously in order to learn from Change, to honor this fundamental law of life. But while Change may show up in myriad ways, we remain open as the result of seven sacred steps: 

  1. Realize everything is unfolding for you, not happening to you. 
  2. Never close your heart. 
  3. Honor your growth.
  4. Heed the signs that you’re where you need to be. 
  5. Know that the Universe’s default is love. 
  6. Always act out of the power of your light. 
  7. Have faith that you’ll be given equal or better. 

These steps complete your journey back home. They will deliver you back to the path of highest good when you feel lost. Stop closing your heart and start opening it instead. Then recognize that you are a living, breathing, conscious being. Next, realize that you are not defined by the events that have occurred or will occur to you because you were, are, and will be the same essence of energy throughout those events. In embracing their death, you are accepting your life. After that, cultivate a belief that the Universe is a friendly place replete with love. Stand in the power of your light by refusing to react to the darkness in another. And always believe that you’re being guided to something better. This is how you come to terms with your past. This is how you surmount your pain in the present. This is how you embrace Change in the future. This is how you say, “It’s good to see me again.”

If you enjoyed this post, check out my book, It’s Good to See Me Again: How to Find Your Way When You Feel Lost, available on Amazon now.

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