“The only thing that is constant is change.” — Heraclitus
Think of the last time you were going to do something, or something was going to go a certain way, but then it didn’t. Whatever the event or task was, changed. How did that make you feel?
Regardless of if we like it or not, change is necessary for life. After all, how would you feel if you were the exact same as you were ten years ago and nothing had ever changed in your life and everything just remained exactly the same?
Change is constant, even if we don’t notice it. Some of us try to control and plan our entire life, always thinking about what is going to happen later today, tomorrow or next week. Have you ever planned for an event to go a certain way, or to do an errand by the end of the day but then something you didn’t expect came along then you didn’t get the original errand done? This is change. Some changes are good, like being the recipient of a random act of kindness. Other changes can be irritating or devastating, or even scary. When I had my car accident, it was a big change for me on a physical, emotional, and spiritual perspective.
The changes that do not go our way tend to stir up anger, sadness, or a sense of anxiety inside us. It’s easy to get irritated and angry and try to address the problem if it’s within our control, or to wish things were different if the problem is outside our control. “If only I didn’t do X.” or “If only I had done Y.” are famous expressions that many of us use, that only build feelings of frustration and regret.
What benefit do we get from building up all of this anger, frustration, anxiety, and worry? If this is an experience that is not being used to learn from or create a solution for, it ultimately just serves as a vessel that provides us with emotions like anger or anxiety.
What if we could lessen our feeling of anger or anxiety?
Learning how to cope with change is an important life skill. Every situation is different so we may need different coping strategies or a combination of multiple strategies. Some ideas of coping are listed below:
When a situation changes, we can use optimism to appreciate the previous situation, while seeking positive aspects of the new situation to help us with the transition and become adjusted to the new situation. For example, if a plan with a friend gets canceled it can be easy to get mad and annoyed about the change. By coping with change in an optimistic perspective, we can accept the change and think about other beneficial ways we can use the time we would have otherwise spent with the friend.
Deal with the stressors
A change we don’t like can lead to feeling stressed and unhappy. Instead of brewing this stressed mood, we can do something to alleviate the stress and cultivate happiness. Watching or reading comical material, working out, listening to music, or doing a hobby you enjoy are all good ways to deal with stressors and help put things into perspective and see the bigger picture.
Talk to others
Close friends and family can be a great source of support to help deal with change. Change can be overwhelming and sometimes we just need to voice our thoughts and express our worries to someone we can trust. Close family and friends can be a great option to help us with the changes we are experiencing, and making us feel better. If the situation is taking a big toll on your life, advice from a mental health professional could be beneficial as well.
Give the situation some time
Some changes are difficult and will take time. That’s okay. Not everything can be dealt with instantly. By giving yourself time to process the change, it can help you gain a better understanding of your emotions and allow yourself to emotionally heal in a healthy way.
Learn from the change
One of my favorite ways to cope with change is to learn from it. By asking myself questions like, “What is the lesson from this change?” “How can I use this lesson in the future?” “What should I take away from this experience?” I feel that the change has provided me with a valuable experience, rather than just a difficult transition.
Change is constant in life, but it doesn’t have to be bad. We can also create change, by thinking and implementing ideas, habits, and actions to improve ourselves and the world around us. By celebrating the good changes and by improving your coping methods for difficult changes, you can thrive and become better and stronger than ever before.
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