9 Ways To Adjust to Change That Is Out Of Your Control
Change that happens out of our control can leave us feeling vulnerable and helpless. Change may cause us to resist and deny what is happening. This is natural, however, getting stuck or dwelling on what has happened won’t allow us to move through the change. An essential component that can help get through change is to accept what has happened. For example, a partner breaks up with you and you are forced to learn how to be single again, or a health scare happens, and you must change your diet, or you have to learn new job responsibilities. Change is difficult because often it requires us to get out of our comfort zone and face uncertainty. Even though change is constant and inevitable, it disrupts us as habitual beings and requires more energy.
If you want to be able to learn how to be adaptable and feel empowered to get through change, then here are 9 strategies to get you started:
Change is a way to learn and grow. This can make us uncomfortable and take us to vulnerable places that we don’t want to go. Is there something that needs to be developed inside us in order to adjust to the change? For example, learning how to regulate emotions or learning how to reach out for help. This can turn into an empowering place because it gives you control over how to work through the difficult times.
Allow little burst intervals: Change can be shocking and overwhelming to our system. The body and brain can adjust with experiencing feelings of discomfort for brief periods rather than feeling all of it at once. Again, change does require more of our energy and effort.
Refrain from being self -critical instead embrace self-compassion: This can be a challenge if we feel responsible for the unwanted change. It’s important to acknowledge some self responsibility on what has happened. Self criticism is when we ruminate and beat ourselves up on the core of who we are rather than noticing and naming the behavior. For example, not getting a job that you wanted. Self criticism is concluding, “I am not enough”. On the other hand, embracing a self compassionate response could be “I wasn’t a good match for what they were looking for” When we have self compassion for ourselves its a lot easier on our hearts to move through it and heal.
Find the meaning of change: We have a choice on giving an explanation to ourselves for the reason why an unwanted change has happened. Again, we can connect this meaning to negative perspective or a positive perspective. For example, a negative perspective might reinforce a lack of self worth. Whereas, a positive perspective can be an opportunity to learn how to love ourselves more.
In the book by M.J. Ryan, How To Survive Change…. You Didn’t’ Ask For, Bounce Back, Finding Calm In Chaos, and Reinvent Yourself describes a few more amazing tips on how to handle change:
Fear and other emotions are a normal part of the process. When you acknowledge that fear and other negative emotions (blame, judgement, regret, anxiety, sadness, disappointment, helplessness) are a normal part of the process. This allows us to soothe our system because we know that this is a part of change. In fact, these emotions may get even more intense.
Being open to seeing the positive aspects of what is happening. At first, there maybe a feeling of disbelief that you can’t see anything positive when experiencing these changes. However, this does require a willingness to see there could be positive things that come from these changes, for example, after a break up, having more time to concentrate on self healing and self growing or a chance to learn a new skill at work or after a health scare saving money by cooking meals at home.
Recognize the mistakes but see the positive part too: It can be easy to ruminate and stay in a negative place. Still, try to acknowledge both seemingly conflicting thoughts “ Yes ,my partner left me, but I am still a lovable person” “ Yes, I neglected my physical body and I am learning about healthier food choices” This will help us to cope better with changes.
Avoid the trap of blame and regret: There might be a tendency to jump to blame another person or the self. We can regret making the choices but this can also take us in a direction of a vicious cycle of self criticism and self blame. However, it just slows down the ability to accept the circumstances and focus on how to get through it. Blame doesn’t allow us to work through the feelings and adjust to the new changes. Furthermore, regret doesn’t allow solutions to come in or the opportunity to feel empowered by what has happened.
Find supports: Be sure to connect to people that are going to be supportive and encouraging. Reach out and connect to professionals (therapists, spiritual or religious leaders, doctors, holistic workers) or family and friends. Sometimes we may underestimate how powerful it is to surround ourselves with people that care about our well being. It makes the process of change feel more bearable.
Change can be tough and distressing. Integrating some or all these 9 tips will help you to be well through the process. In my experience working as a therapist, seeking out support is another great way to get more tools on how to adapt and feel empowered during inevitable changes in life.
Crystal Hamill, MA, is experienced in the areas of mindfulness and interpersonal relationships, plus many more. For more information on Crystal and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.