“The Art of Life Lies in a Constant Readjustment to our Surroundings”Kakuzo Okakura
If there is one certainty that life offers us it’s that we can guarantee the experience of change in our lives. All things change – people, emotions, seasons, places. Change is a natural part of our existence. However, it is so multi-dimensional that it manifests itself in many different forms.
Change can be unexpected – an occurrence that we didn’t see coming, completely out of our control, and all of a sudden it just slaps us in the face, and we’re left shocked, dumbfounded, and wondering what to do or how to handle it.
Change can be desired – this feeling for change can come all at once or be built up over time. Regardless, we can feel this need arise in one or more areas of our lives e.g. leaving a dead-end job to build a dream business, leaving that dead-beat relationship so you can open yourself up to a better experience of love, going from a size 14 to a size 10, or blacklisting some so-called “friends” who are now toxic to your life’s journey.
Change can be expected – sometimes we see it coming from a mile away; sometimes influencing expected change is within our control and sometimes it’s not. This can be making the decision to go through a divorce, preparing for the death of a sick loved one, or embracing a new boss in your department at work.
Regardless of the way change announces itself in your life, it can be so scary! So scary that we try to run away from it for as long as possible, we worry, we lose sleep, we panic, we get dizzy, our hearts race uncontrollably, we fall ill and so many other issues that can occur when we go through this anxious feeling of unease when change is at the door.
But how do we overcome our fears of embracing change?
There is no one right way or straight path; however, you will find below 6 different strategies you can choose from to help you embrace change WAY more than you embrace your fear of it.
This step might be the hardest one, and that is why it comes first. Finding it within yourself to accept the situation, or the experience of change instead of resisting it is the first step to embracing change. This doesn’t mean that you give up the fight and resign yourself to the way things are as passive victims of circumstance. It means taking full responsibility over yourself – your thoughts, emotions, words and actions – when it comes to dealing with change. See the situation for what it is and become mindful of the parts of you that feel uncomfortable with it. Start there. Once you do that, you harness your ability to respond to life’s events in the most functional of ways.
Instead of running away from your fear of change, you ought to question it. Why do you fear this change? What about this change makes you feel fearful and uneasy? Can you pinpoint it specifically? Can you give it a voice? A face? Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and look for the fear under the fear. Write down the deep-rooted fears of change that make you feel to run, and then re-frame those limiting stories. For example, if you discover that you are telling yourself fearful stories of how difficult change will be once you become a single parent, re-frame the language to an empowering statement such as “I am capable of handling anything that comes my way because I am strong”.
When having to embrace change, our automatic response is to focus on the negative. We focus on loss, lack, worry, failure, dread and every other emotion that fills us up with turmoil. Focusing on the negative is stunting. We cannot grow from this place. “What is the best possible scenario that can occur?” This is what we should ask ourselves instead. Keep your eyes set on the possibilities rather than the problems. Change can actually be the best thing that ever happened to you, or turn into something wonderful that you never even thought of before. Get excited about the possibilities! You can even do the opposite. Imagine the worst case scenario that would occur if you don’t embrace change. Usually, not following through on embracing change can be filled with regret – something no one wants to live with.
Creating a solid strategy or plan of action will be worthwhile cushions, likely to make you feel more protected and comfortable when it comes to embracing expected or unexpected change. Of course the outcomes cannot be predicted, but there are many things you can do to increase your levels of peace and comfort when going through change, such as hiring a personal trainer to hold you accountable for the days you don’t want to work out or eat clean, saving a lot of money before leaving a career to pursue a dream, or hiring a life or business coach to help you navigate a clear path toward the achievement of life goals or making more money in your business. Having control over your own preparation can help to calm your nerves and ease your mind.
Since going through some form of change is a constant life experience, knowing that you are not the only or the first to go through some form of change should make you sigh in relief because you have countless people you can turn to. Seek advice and counsel from positive, inspiring and empowering people who have gone through what you are going through or who can help you go through what you’re going through. Ask them how they did it, how did it make them feel, what they might have done differently, and anything else you’re curious about that would help you on your journey. Creating your own support system and surrounding yourself with encouragement will make the process of embracing change a lot easier.
Focusing on gratitude and celebrating each little win when we’re going through a transition will get us much further, faster. Journal or meditate on at least one thing every day that you consider a success – big or small. You may have cooked a healthy plant-based meal instead of eating a burger, you introduced yourself to your new boss or colleague instead of sitting silent in your cubicle, or you may have had a peaceful conversation with your soon-to-be-ex partner. Whatever the case may be, be grateful for the positive way you handle each situation and its outcomes. Write them down so you don’t forget. Then clap for yourself and go celebrate that win!
Embracing change is not usually a smooth, seamless walk in the park on a bright sunny day. The truth is that many times embracing change is scary and it sucks! But you can’t allow your fear of embracing change to hold you back from the wonderful possibilities of what could be – including personal happiness, peace, growth, and success. By using one or all of these strategies you can reduce your anxious nerves, push past your fear, and embrace change like the superhero you are, ready for whatever change throws your way.