One of the most surprising things that can hold us back in life is the fear of change itself. Some of us seem to find it easy to leap forward and embrace the new, but sometimes we can catch ourselves literally digging our heels in at the very idea of moving on, even if what we’re facing is a change for the better.
If you think about it, it’s just not possible to avoid change. Or if you did, you’d lead a very strange life indeed. A quick look back over your own life to date will show you how many changes that you’ve already been through. Some might make you wince, but others will have brought new energy, new places, new people and fresh experiences into your life that you wouldn’t want to be without today.
Learning how to handle change is actually one of the most important skills we can master. Back in the late 1960’s, a study of the records of over 5,000 medical patients by psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe led them to draw up what is widely recognised today as being a ‘stress scale’ that puts a score against the kinds of changes we can face in life, such as moving house, changing work and even doing something amazingly successful! This clearly showed that even things that we might actually try and bring into our lives can have a toll.
The reason why I say that handling change is a skill is because it’s something that to a great extent is learned. We might have been brought up in households where we were taught that change is to be avoided and feared and that it’s better to play life small and safe, or we might have been raised by parents who by their behaviour showed us that life was an amazing adventure to be thoroughly enjoyed and experienced to the full. Along our own life paths, we also build our own set of experiences that add up to an overall perception of whether we think change is a good thing or something we have to drag ourselves through even though inside we’re kicking and screaming. The good news is that because handling change is a skill, we can learn how to do it better.
So what is the best way of handling change?
1/ Track your self talk. If you’re moving home for example and you catch yourself thinking, ‘I’m leaving all my friends behind. I’m really going to miss them. It’s going to be really lonely’ replace it with a more positive truth such as, ‘I’ll always have the friends I’ve got and I’m probably going to meet some fantastic new people’. Think about the change as bringing you in new and adding to the abundance of your life rather than taking away the old and beloved.
2/ Make use of tried and trusted stress busters that are proven to be able to ease you back into a calm and positive state of mind. Tai Chi, Chi Kung and Yoga, meditation are all great ways of softening the experience of stress and if nothing else you can always find a quiet place for five minutes meditation which has been shown over and over again to literally change the way your brain works.
3/ Remind yourself that stress is all in the mind. Your body is truly amazing, but in some ways it has quite a limited way of responding to certain things that can happen. For example, whether you’ve walked in on a surprise party being thrown in your honour or come face to face with a tiger on the loose, there are certain things that happen at a biochemical level that are exactly the same! And what’s really fascinating is that studies have shown that your mind will then try and make sense of those biochemical changes by creating a story about whether what’s happening is a threat or something good. So make sure that you are in conscious control of the story you tell. If you’re stomach is churning, instead of telling yourself that you’re terrified, remember that’s also what excitement feels like too.
4/ Keep those healthy patterns you’ve built up going. If you’re being sidetracked by dealing with any kind of change, it’s easy to fall into living on coffee, adrenaline and grabbing junk food snacks rather than eating properly. Your body is coming along through this change with you, so nurture it along the journey.
5/ Look back at the times in your life when change hit you and you resisted it. Note what positive you can see came from that change now. Perhaps you had a painful break up but then went on to love someone in a deeper way? Or lost a job but ultimately found your vocation? Trust that this change will no doubt bring a miracle later on.
6/ Visualise the detail of what is coming in as all going well to help you create a compelling future that you want to move towards.
7/ Breathe. Every hour, when it’s safe to do so, pause and focus on your breath. Take ten slow inhalations and exhale slowly. With every exhalation relax the muscles of your body just that bit more. Just that can be enough to help you feel calm, centred and ready to face anything.
We are the change we want to see in the world so step into your power
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