Stress Management and Mastery: How to Handle Change
Q. I have just recently come to recognize that I don't handle change very well, although my husband and friends have told me that for years. I seem to have trouble with changes that are out of my control. And then when I try to change things I want to change, I just don't know what to do and get bogged down. What do you recommend?
I believe that most people do not like change because they either don't know how to respond to it or they respond poorly.
One way to think about this is that change is like waves on the beach. Just like change, waves are relentless and can be powerful, and there's really only three things you can do with a wave: Let it knock you down, survive it or ride it.
Let's take a closer look at each of these three ways to handle change.
We let the waves of change knock us down when we take what I call the dead roach approach to change - flat on our back, feet in the air and just out of control.
You can tell you are taking this approach when you say things such as:
"I'm so stressed out!"
"I can't take this!"
"This isn't fair!"
"Why does this always have to happen to me?"
Doesn't surviving change sound like a good thing to want to do? Though in a few cases it's really the only thing you can do, it really isn't the optimal approach to take. I don't know about you, but merely surviving doesn't sound like a very compelling way to live.
If you're thinking or saying these things, you've probably settled on merely surviving:
"How can I get through this?"
"What's the worst that could happen here?"
"I don't know if I can take this."
"What can I do to get by?"
The problem with taking a survival approach is that you just merely get by. When you're ready to do more than just get by, it's time to begin managing change.
Riding the waves of change means moving from a state of survival to a state I call "thrival." Thrival is simply the process of making change work for you.
Here are some questions to ask to begin to learn how to thrive on change:
How can I make this work for me?
What's good about this?
What does this change allow me to do that I couldn't do before?
What positive things might this change force me to do.
Change is inevitable. How we handle it is optional. Make the choice to ride the waves and you're likely to create a compelling life for yourself.
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