In Order to Change Your Life, YOU NEED TO LEARN THIS FIRST! (Eye Opening Speech)
How to Handle Changes in Your Life
As part of our nature as humans, we normally do not like major changes and the fear of the unknown that accompanies change. The “anticipatory anxiety” that we experience in the midst of important life changes can be emotionally paralyzing.To handle changes in your life, you need to accept what is beyond your control and focus on your own internal transition to the new reality. Remember that feeling fear about change does not mean that change is bad — what seems frightening at first may well turn out to be for the best. A good maxim to keep in mind is the old hippie saying: "Don’t knock it until you have tried it."
Recognize that changes will always happen.Changes occur in our lives at regular intervals, whether we are aware of them or not. A shop that has been in the area for years may close down, or an old building may be demolished to make way for a new roadway. More directly, you may experience a serious illness, a divorce, or the birth of a child. Life is not static, nor are we meant to be; change is part of our very nature, welcome or not.
- You’ve probably caught yourself at some point, while watching the sun set over the ocean, seeing your kids giddily open Christmas presents, or experiencing some other joyful setting, thinking “I wish it could be like this forever.” And yet, without changes, those situations could never have occurred. Change is inevitable and essential.
Expect internal resistance to change.Along with accepting that change will and must happen, you also need to accept that you will instinctively be (at least initially) resistant to most changes. This instinct has no bearing on the likelihood of a change being good or bad; it is simply a typical human response to something different.
- Some changes will be a challenge. You may change your job, or be forced to move far away. These are challenges to which you can either rise or fall. If you follow up your initial hesitancy with fear, you may become a nervous wreck. However, if you can move past your resistance and embrace change as a new adventure, you may end up happier and better off in the end.
Analyze the situation.While you can’t emotionally detach yourself from the experience of life changes, you can try to take a step back and look at things from a distance. Grab a pen and paper if it helps and jot down exactly what has changed and how it has impacted you.(Actually, journaling is a great way to work through your feelings whether you are experiencing life changes or not.)
- Once you’ve determined precisely what you’re dealing with, you can develop coping strategies that are best suited to deal with the circumstances.
- Say, for instance, that your next door neighbors move away, and new people move in. If your relationship with the old neighbors was cordial, you may view the newcomers with trepidation, or even distrust. Viewed rationally, however, it is entirely possible that you’ll get along even better with the new neighbors; as Jim Reeves once sang, “A stranger is just a friend you do not know."
Determine what you can and cannot control.Many life changes will be completely beyond your control — from the death of a loved one to corporate downsizing and so on. Even when you do have some amount of control — like trying to choose which house to buy in a new town — you still are not in command of the overall life change occurring. However, you always have the ability to control how you respond to the change.
- The key to accepting change is to have an open mind and to accept everything as it presents itself. The change will occur, like it or not; you cannot control it. In the face of this change, however, you have the ability to shape your response in a positive manner.
Be patient, not passive.All this talk of accepting change might make you think that you are supposed to just lie down and let life happen to you. Keep in mind, however, that there is a difference between patience and passivity. You can patiently accept change while at the same time actively pursuing strategies to reorient yourself (emotionally and otherwise) to the new circumstances.
- Changes will happen. You will be (at least initially) resistant to these changes. You cannot control either the changes or your initial hesitancy. You can control your larger response to the changes. To do so requires your active participation.
- Realize that some changes are going to be very unexpected. Accept it as a new chapter in your life; as a fresh opportunity to gain knowledge or experience in some new area, or a chance to discover new people, new places and new skills.
Adjusting to Change
Give yourself time to change.Life changes — like a car accident or winning the lottery — can “happen overnight,” but your adjustment period won’t. Think of a major life change as akin to dipping into a swimming pool. At first, the water feels freezing cold and you want to get right back out. After a bit, though, you get used to the change and can enjoy a relaxing, comfortable wade or swim.
- Major life changes require a “psychological metamorphosis” on your part. And, like a butterfly, the transformation takes time. Try to visualize the stages of your metamorphosis and imagine the end of the process, when you have adjusted to the new circumstances.
Focus on small, present things.While you want to visualize the big picture and see yourself happily adjusted to the major change occurring, you also need to focus your energies on the here and now of the adjustment process. Accept that you are in the midst of your adaptation to the new reality that faces you, and take note of your progress and your roadblocks.
- For instance, if your beloved pet dog has died, try not to obsess over asking yourself “When am I going to get over this?”. Instead, focus on small steps in your adjustment process: putting away the dish, leash, and chew toys; being able to pass the dog park without tearing up; and, eventually, feeling that urge to check out the puppies at the animal shelter.
Accept failures and false starts.Adjusting to changes is not often a one-way street. Sometimes, you’ll take two steps forward, and one step back. And that’s normal and healthy. Don’t judge yourself too harshly for slip-ups or backslides; rather, keep yourself focused on the positive steps you have made and will make next.
- For example, if your fiance has run off with someone else and left you shattered, don’t be surprised if your first few attempts to get back into the dating game end up as disasters. And don’t be too hard on yourself if you find yourself in tears, clutching a meaningful item from your relationship. So long as you are also making positive steps in your transition process, you can remind yourself that you’re doing just fine.
Specify your strategies.There are general concepts to keep in mind as you face any kind of major life change. There are also more specific strategies you should employ dependent upon the nature of the actual change you are facing. To name a few examples:
- If you’re starting a new job, try to prioritize completing tasks that complement your existing skills (so you can feel good about doing them well), and allow you to build a rapport with your new co-workers.
- If you’re facing a serious illness, allow yourself to grieve for what has been lost (your independence, certain abilities, your long-term future, etc.), and don’t discount the coping powers of a hearty laugh and a shoulder to cry on.
- If you’re moving to a new town, view it as an open-ended adventure — do research on your new home, plot out your “visit,” and talk to strangers for advice and tips on how to eat, play, and live like a “local.”
Increase your sense of control in small ways.Looking for opportunities to exert control may also help you to adapt to change. Try thinking of all of the little things that you can control in your daily life, such as what you have for dinner or what you do on your days off from work.
- You can also look for ways to feel more in control with the change that is coming your way. For example if you are moving to a new place, then research it as much as possible before you move to find out about the area. Look into little things like what stores are in your neighborhood, what activities are available, and other things that will help you to ease into your new environment.
Avoid making decisions out of fear.Change can be frightening, but it is important to avoid making decisions that are based in fear. Try to address your fears about the changes coming your way rather than avoiding them.
- For example, if you are feeling fearful about moving to a new city for your dream job, this is normal. However, the fear of the unknown should not prevent you from making this move.
- Try making a list of what you fear about the changes you are facing. Then, look over the list and determine if these fears are things that you can do something about. For example, if you are fearful of going to a new city because you think you will be lonely, then start looking into social opportunities, such as a special interest group. For example, you could join a running club if you enjoy running, a knitter’s circle if you like to knit, or a church if you are religious.
Count your blessings.It can feel like everything in your life has gone sour when you’re experiencing a major change, like a job loss or the end of a long-term relationship. At times like these, when everything seems to be changing for the worse, it is even more important to pause and take stock of all the good things (and people) in your life.
- Remember that things could always be worse. Yes, your car has been repossessed, but at least you can still borrow your parents’ clunky Oldsmobile to get around. Sure, your boyfriend cheated on and dumped you, but at least he didn’t dare try to take the cat with him!
- Don’t focus solely on the “it could always be worse” element, however. Identify and be grateful for the genuinely good and helpful aspects of your life, regardless of any changes occurring. Things like your good health, awesome apartment, and always-cheerful Aunt Sylvia are worth your thoughts and your thanks.
Seek familiar comforts.When your world is in turmoil, seek out a safe harbor that you know well. Familiar places, people, things, and activities will remind you that not everything has changed. Use them as totems to ground your sense of self as the world around you becomes less familiar.
- Go for a meal at Grandma’s house. Re-read a favorite book, or leaf through your old baseball card collection. Spend a “sick day” together with your best friend since kindergarten.
Talk to someone you trust.We all face major life changes, and none of us should try to face them alone. When you’re struggling with a life change, writing down your feelings can be very helpful. Often, though, it may be even more beneficial to verbalize your feelings to a sympathetic ear.
- Call or meet up with a friend or family member who you know is an attentive listener, and to whom you feel comfortable speaking with on personal matters. Say something like “I’ve been struggling a lot with the death of Spot / move to the city / changes at my office. Is it okay if I unburden myself on you for a few minutes?”
- You can make it an impromptu talk, but it may be more helpful to plan out a time in advance when you know you can converse without distractions or interruptions.
Manage your stress.Life changes can and will increase your stress levels, and some of us have a more difficult time handling stress than others. While a manageable amount of stress is actually a healthy thing, and can help spur you to adapt successfully to life changes, excessive and/or constant stress can damage your emotional, mental, and physical health. In order to effectively handle changes in your life, you need to be able to handle the accompanying stress.
- Symptoms of excessive stress can take many forms, from experiencing difficulty concentrating to having heart palpitations. Treatments for stress likewise take numerous forms, ranging from healthy living (via eating, sleeping, and exercising) to meditation to enjoying fun distractions. See Control Stress for a fuller discussion of the signs of and treatments for excessive stress.
Get additional help.If you simply cannot manage the changes happening in your life — or, more specifically, your emotional response to them — there is absolutely no shame in seeking professional guidance. Mental health professionals are capable of helping you to better evaluate, accept, and adapt to the changes happening to you.
- If you are feeling overwhelmed and need immediate help, call an emergency mental health hotline like 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255), which is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (in the U.S.). Or, call 911 or the equivalent emergency services number where you live.
QuestionMy Ex wife just came back after about a year away and asked to have my daughters overnight and never brought them back. I can't eat, sleep or even function anymore. It's like I lost my whole life. What can I do?
M.A, Clinical Mental Health CounselingM.A, Clinical Mental Health CounselingExpert AnswerI’m very sorry to hear you’re in so much pain. You’ll need to take some preliminary steps in order to resolve this conflict. Do you and your ex have a custody agreement? If so, you will need to contact the authorities about enforcing this agreement. Do you know where your Ex lives? It might be time to contact her or visit to see your daughters. Do you think they are safe? If not, it might be time to contact the police about their safety and location. Are your daughters old enough to contact you or have access to a cell phone? It might be time to call them. Do you know any family members of your Ex who would know where she is? It might be time to contact them and ask about your Ex and your daughters. If you have already tried all your options and if you are not eating, sleeping, or functioning normally, I advise that you seek the support of a mental health professional in your area, especially if you are having thoughts of suicide or wishes of no longer ‘being here.’ Although you have not seen your daughters, you still matter to them and you owe it to yourself and them to seek the support and help that you need as you go through this time. If you are in immediate crisis, call 911 or go to the ER for help. You can also call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if it is a big change that I can see happening every day, and I simply cannot find a way to accept it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAccepting a major life change takes time, so be patient and don't be too hard on yourself. Also, take time to analyze the specifics of the change and how it has impacted (and not impacted) your life. Then, work to develop strategies to effectively deal with the changes happening to you and within you. Don't be afraid to seek the help of a trusted friend or a professional counselor.Thanks!
QuestionMy dad passed away -- how do I adjust to living without him?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIn a situation like this, the old saying that "time heals all wounds" may seem like small consolation. But, in reality, you can and will adapt to life without your father. Give yourself time to grieve, and expect good and bad days in your adjustment process. Also, don't feel as though you are dishonoring your father's memory by eventually getting on with your life; certainly he would want you to do exactly that.Thanks!
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