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Coping With Change

This post was originally published on Elaine Rogers’ blog

“If you believe you can or cannot do something, you are probably right” – Henry Ford

All change is stressful: whether positive change such as moving house, getting married, starting a new job or having a baby, or negative such as experiencing a bereavement, being made redundant or getting divorced. This is because change, whether positive or negative, involves uncertainty and altering your routine.

Where there is life, there is change. We change through action, learning, and commitment. Transitions are periods of risk and possibility. They are a period of danger and opportunity. The danger is that we will be unable to cope with the transition and will be scarred by the experience. The opportunity is for personal growth.

“The only sane response to change is to find the opportunity in it” – Jeff Jarvis

Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Too much change causes chaos; too much security keeps us stuck. When managed properly, security (material, emotional, physical) provides stability, and change provides growth potential.

There are 4 basic phases when we embark on any change process:

  1. Shock or Fear – feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, low morale, and resistance
  2. Denial – a natural coping mechanism and buys us time to process information
  3. Anger/ Ineffectiveness – a reluctance to adapt to change; we may under-perform in different areas of life. Can lead to blaming others rather than seeing the situation for what it is.
  4. Letting Go/ Moving On – we begin to come to terms with the changes, let go of the past and look forward to the future. This final stage brings positive feelings and is the catalyst for personal growth.

Creating change doesn’t guarantee that we will get what we want. Our success depends on how clear we are about our motivation for change. Not any action will move us forward. Only appropriate action will. Even a dead fish floats downstream after all! Maybe the way forward happens to be upstream. Oh! There’s that Fear again! We want to take the easy way, don’t we? We want safe and cosy, don’t we? Well then, we have to stay where we are, but if we do, we then have no right to complain about it!

To embrace the change process, we must learn to differentiate between cause and effect. Any attempt to merely change effects (our actions) will not address the root of the cause (our thoughts). In order to be sure that we benefit from change, we need to take the time to honestly explore why we want to make the change. We need to gain a clear sense of who we are, what we are about, and what our values are. Once we achieve self-knowledge and a clear sense of purpose, we can move out of our comfort zone towards growth, achievement, and increased self-awareness.

We should observe to become aware, be aware to understand, understand in order to develop, and then develop towards self-actualisation (Kurt Goldstein’s definition: “The motive to realise all of one’s potentialities”.)

Coping strategies when going through a Change process of any kind:

Stress takes energy. Rather than sucumming to stress and excess usage of energy, take special care of your body and:

  • Accept that change is inevitable
  • Accept that all change provides opportunities for growth
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Watch your diet – eat, and eat well (little and often)
  • Watch your thoughts, when you think a negative thought – turn it around and gain something positive

Try some affirmations:

Affirmations (Something declared to be true; a positive statement or assertion) help to program our unconscious, so it seeks out from the universe for all that you affirm:

“I am living the life I desire”

“I feel healthy and will never smoke again”

“I am the perfect weight and shape, I love my body”

“Money comes to me frequently and easily”

“The universe will provide me with all that I need and desire”

“I am whole and perfect, strong and powerful, loving and happy”

“I am grateful for all that I have and appreciate those who support me”

By repeating affirmations regularily, we are asserting these thoughts to become our reality. Try it out. Another way to positively move through change is to constantly smile when you can, and have a good belly laugh every day, especially if at yourself!

Moral of the story? Be proactive in the change process and make sure it works to your advantage. Thoughts?

Elaine Rogers is a Business Trainer, Coach and Writer. She takes pain away. She helps soothe the rough and tumble of running a business through education, information and coaching. And a bit of entertainment. Elaine hangs out at The Smart Train She provides online training and coaching solutions in the areas of MS Office Skills, Business Skills, and Soft Skills. She also provides exclusive content for her ever growing email list.

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  • Good post Elaine. Tough change is many times, an opportunity for many people to realise actually how lucky they are with what’s around them…

  • Thanks for this interesting post. We all resist changes for some reason, but when we’re somehow forced into it -only then- we can take fully advantage of what’s offered to us along with the “changing process”. nI got “stuck” in a toxic workplace for years, unhappy with my daily life and myself, unable to leave only because the trade off was some travelling. I eventually grew so tiread and grumpy I knew I had to leave for my own sake. Initially, despite knowing it was the right choice, you feel lost, without direction, useless. As your life becomes YOUR life again, this feeling fades away, and you start working on yourself. It’s been almost a year, and I am finally quite happy with myself. I have changed careers, I am losing weight and learning new stuff… I feel I am becoming more and more the person I want to be. I am only saying all of this because I know there’s a lot of people outhere who would love to change, but somehow never find the strength to. So, if you would like something different, go for it, it will go your way! And you’ll look back with a smile, I promise. Thanks again for your words.

  • Mike []

    Great advice Elaine – change is an everyday phenomenon and needs to be embraced. It often leads to great opportunities too…

  • Hi Elaine, great post! nnIn my experience the biggest obstacle (business or otherwise) is our inbuilt resistance to changing our beliefs structure. Many of us come from the position the beliefs are fixed rather than transient. nnIt’s in letting go of a particular belief about ourselves or the world around us is where we start the process of changing. nnThis sometimes happens naturally but it’s cumbersome and invariably accidental, where as if you realise that you can take an active part in your beliefs system, you in turn empower your actions and results. nnThe people who change the world are the ones that believe they can 🙂

  • Hi Elaine, nnI try to remember that we have to pay for our mistakes u2013 emotionally, financially, and spiritually u2013 and accept the consequences. nnMany of the changes we face are self-inflicted but that doesnu2019t mean we have to negate or deny them. Itu2019s part of the learning process. nnNot always easy when change is teaching us lessons we donu2019t want to go through. nnPS u2013 and of course we also have to accept the rewards. Something one can overlook at times.nnIvan

  • Hi Elaine,nnExcellent post! Change is never easy. I try to face it, understand it, look at the negatives and positives and strengthen the positives. nnIf everything was good, whats good? Change is a natural part of life and it teaches us about life, connects us to it and allows us to grow.nnToday I tried on some summer clothing and ran out of the store …with no purchases, so… (cough) u201cI am the perfect weight and shape, I love my bodyu201d. Will be back there this wkend, with a new perspective!

  • I think change instills fear in some – why change when we are happy the way we are, but perhaps we are not asking ourselves the right questions…nThanks for reading Fred 🙂

  • Hi John,nThanks for stopping by and sharing some great insights with us.nChange can often only happen when the need for change is greater than the want to stay the same, or indeed visa verse. nI particularly like your comment “you’ll look back and smile”. If that was said to everyone afraid to embark on a change, it would empower them forward.nWell done on being aware that your life was worth more to be out of a toxic situation and giving yourself the permission to make that change – best wishes with your ventures 🙂

  • It’s when the change is big that scares people, I feel it’s important to have a strong network to support us through difficult decisions and challenges. Challenges are opportunities to grow as a professional and as a person, you are right that it leads to great things… nnthanks for stopping by and sharing with us

  • for such a small word, EGO can be devastating, demeaning, and freeze us in our tracks. Our ego wants to protect us – at any cost, including growth and development. We develop as humans when we embrace change and progression. We can literally conquer the world (or beyond) if we think it’s possible. nnLetting go of beliefs is not possible until we realise they are not truly ours but inherited/learned. And yes you are so right in that once we realise we can do something differently or believe something differently, anything is possible within our belief system, our new belief system :)nnThanks for sharing that Niall

  • Mistakes are too often perceived as negative – they are the lessons of life, our chance to grow.nTraditionally, I don’t like making mistakes, so it’s like my subconscious makes them for me (often as great bloopers!) so all’s that’s left is to accept them like you say, learn, move on and embrace the change process. When we feel positive towards a change, the rewards are incalculable :)nnThanks for sharing Ivan, mistake should be removed from the dictionary 🙂

  • Anonymous

    This topic reminds me of a post by Tom Asacker, “Innovate On Purpose” in which he talks about how it isn’t so much change people fear but the accompanying uncertainty. That’s really it though…we don’t know where we will end up or what will be required of us as we go through change. We resist when we feel the uncertainty.

  • Hi Christina,nThanks for reading and sharing your story. Unfortunately, to buy now for summertime, is difficult – we don’t have the necessary tanned skin and summer glow to match the outfits ;)nnIt’s similar in business, trying to prepare now for what’s ahead, even tho it’s not a good fit right now. As long as we keep the end game in mind, it will help us to focus. nnOf course you will try the shopping again, and will be successful, as you know deep down it must be done to be ready for the next season. And life goes on, constantly changing, like you say. and we definitely are the better for it 🙂

  • I think to have a real focus, and keep the end game in mind is important. For example, I know people who have been made redundant or lost their jobs. Some are waiting to be contacted by agencies or companies to be offered a job. Others are being pro-active in their job search, thereby managing the change process more effectively, and they have a huge impact on the process as a consequence.nNot so scary, when you take it on board and become a driver of the change, not just a passenger. And much more fun!! :)nnEspecially in Ireland today, all the talk is about change, so yes I agree, we are not necessarily afraid of change, but the uncertainty it brings with it. We want something different, but a lot of ordinary people have no idea what that may entail. nnPerhaps, we should put more thought into it beyond “we need changes around here”, and ask ourselves, “Exactly what changes do we want around here?”nnThanks for sharing the link Elli, it was an interesting read :)nn

  • Anonymous

    Your point about being the driver of the change is the key thing. It’s a powerful shift go to from “we need changes around here” to one of “what changes do we need?” There are some people who will feel responsible (right or wrong) for making changes and may feel guilty or ashamed if they don’t know what to do. Others may take on the attitude of “it’s too big, why bother?” But when we shift to identifying specific changes, it’s easier to see the solutions and pick one. nnChanging a nation ( or any large organisation) is a big deal! There will never be a perfect solution or pace of change. The next part of this conversation might be something like that proposed in Switch by Dan and Chip Heath. How do we smooth the path for all of us?

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