Change is the only constant

Our lives are full of change.  In fact, it is the only constant!  Sometimes change is within our control and sometimes it is not.  Whatever the case, we need to adjust.  Fortunately, there are ways to adapt to change and, in some cases, take advantage of it.

Harvard Business Review published an article that provides some suggestions for how to cope.

  • Find the humor in the situation. Trying to find a funny moment during an otherwise unfunny situation can be a fantastic way to create the levity needed to see a vexing problem from a new perspective. It can help others feel better as well. Witty banter can lighten the mood and improve social interaction.  Just make sure it’s inclusive and respectful. A good rule of thumb is that other people’s strife is no laughing matter, but your own struggles can be a source of comedic gold.
  • Talk about problems more than feelings. One of the most common mythsof coping with unwanted changes is the idea that we can “work through” our anger, fears, and frustrations by talking about them a lot. This isn’t always the case. In fact, research shows that actively and repeatedly broadcasting negative emotions hinders our natural adaptation processes.  That’s not to say you should just “suck it up” or ignore your troubles. Instead, call out your anxiety or your anger at the outset of a disorienting change so that you are aware of how it might distort your thinking or disrupt your relationships. Then look for practical advice about what to do next. By doing so, you’ll zero in on the problems you can solve, instead of lamenting the ones you can’t.
  • Don’t stress out about stressing out. Our beliefs about stress matter. Your reaction to stress has a greater impact on your health and success than the stress itself. If you believe stress kills you, it will. If you believe stress is trying to carry you over a big obstacle or through a challenging situation, you’ll become more resilient and may even live longer.
  • Focus on your values instead of your fears. Reminding ourselves of what’s important to us — family, friends, religious convictions, scientific achievement, great music, creative expression, and so on — can create a surprisingly powerful buffer against whatever troubles may be ailing us. In a series of studies spanning more than a decade, researchers led by Geoffrey Cohen and David Sherman have shown how people of all ages in a range of circumstances, from new schools and new relationships to new jobs, can strengthen their minds with a simple exercise: spending 10 minutes writing about a time when a particular value you hold has positively affected you. The technique works because reflecting on a persona value helps us rise above the immediate threat and makes us realize that our personal identity can’t be compromised by one challenging situation.
  • Accept the past, but fight for the future. Even though we are never free from change, we are always free to decide how we respond to it. Choose to accept the fact that change happens, and employ your freedom to decide what to do next.
  • Don’t expect stability. In the late 1970s a researcher at the University of Chicago named Salvatore Maddibegan studying employees at Illinois Bell. Soon after, the phone industry was deregulated, and the company had to undergo a lot of changes. Some managers had trouble coping. Others thrived. What separated the two groups?  The adaptive leaders chose to view all changes, whether wanted or unwanted, as an expected part of the human experience, rather than as a tragic anomaly that victimizes unlucky people. Instead of feeling personally attacked by ignorant leaders, evil lawmakers, or an unfair universe, they remained engaged in their work and spotted opportunities to fix long-standing problems with customer service and to tweak antiquated pricing structures.  In contrast, Maddi found that the struggling leaders were consumed by thoughts of “the good old days.” They spent their energy trying to figure out why their luck had suddenly turned sour. They tried to bounce back to a time and a place that no longer existed.

Although each of these six techniques requires different skills to pull off — and you’ll probably gravitate toward some more than others — there’s one thing that you must do if you want to be more successful at dealing with change: accept it.

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  1. Jenice
    Mar 26, 2019

    Thanks for this valuable article on coping with change! I realize that many times our strength lies in our ability to adapt to new situations–no matter what stage in life we are in!

  2. Ben Heinrich
    Mar 29, 2019

    And as the Eagle’s said in their iconic song, “Take It Easy”