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“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” —Victor Frankl
When we fight the change that inevitably will occur in our lives — death – of ourselves, of others we love; a shift in our daily routines due to career changes, children growing up, etc. — we expend energy that is better used cultivating moments of joy in our lives and with those we care about.
If we become aware of change that is imminent, change that we do not want to happen but cannot stop, how we handle ourselves reveals our ability to not only be resilient but also to be aware of the world around us and how we can best navigate amongst it to not only improve the quality of our own lives, but the quality of the relationships we have with others and equally as important, our overall physical and mental health.
Today I would like to share with you six ways to handle unwanted change in a positive and productive, yet compassionately for not only others, but ourselves as well. In so doing, we reduce anxiety and potential depression as well as model to others how to traverse well through unwanted situations as well as honoring respectfully different moments and people in our lives that have and will continue to hold a special place in our life story.
1.Understand how stress functions in our lives and shift your perspective about it to improve rather than hinder your life journey
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) sites psychologist Kelly McGonigal, author of The Upside of Stress, who reminds, “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”. In other words, yes, stress, if not chronic can be managed to benefit each of us if we understand the purpose of the stress in our lives. Once we become aware of why stress has crossed our paths, we can also recognize what the stress is trying to help us understand — an opportunity to demonstrate our talents, reason to heed a red flag in a relationship, reassess the need for boundaries, a reminder to see others as human and extend compassion.
When we take a step back to ascertain why stress has decided to enter into our lives, we may discover something quite invaluable in how we progress with the rest of our journey.
2. Accept the truth of inevitable change
Understanding and accepting the truth of change while two different concepts can be simultaneously accepted. And when we acknowledge that change will happen, no matter how badly we want all that we adore and enjoy to remain as it is, we are reminded to savor the present all the more. As well, we are better prepared to move forward well, all the while honoring the past, but embracing the opportunities in the future that can be experienced should we step forward rather than lingering in the past.
3. Maintain the routines that provide stability, strength and tranquilty
From tending to the necessary chores, to making sure to not forget the daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal rituals that are part of your self-care routine, by adhering to the routines and healthy habits that restore you, you give yourself strength to be your best, think clearly so as to make sound decision as well as navigate your emotions in a healthy manner.
4. Talk to others who are supportive and uplifting
Sharing your fears regarding the inevitable change that has either happened or will happen reduces the amplification of the worst-case scenarios spinning about in your mind. Simply by sharing our fears, hearing them out loud, we may not only realize how absurd we are being, but also realize we are far more resilient and capable of handling well what we do not want to occur. While we do not want to dwell on our worries and bog someone else down, sharing them once and thoughtfully so with someone who listens and cares helps create a support system as we move forward.
5. Take part in the change if appropriate and fitting to the situation
While not all change is malleable, some change is. For example, if change is happening at work prompted by a change of leadership or a change in the redistribution of funding, etc., if you have the opportunity to take part in decision-making moving forward, why not step forward and lend your time and expertise? In other words, if the change is inevitable, but you can be part of exactly what change happens, why not become a part of the shift? While it will not give you complete control, it can ease your mind and give you a sense of ownership over the next step.
6. Savor and be present instead of dwelling and becoming absorbed in thoughts of the unwanted future
Moments unwanted provide opportunities of growth, awareness and time to reassess how we are living our lives. Simply knowing that the life we are living now cannot continue exactly as it is provides a simple reminder to be engaged with the present, bring our best selves, thoughtful with our words and kind with our actions.
Savoring moments we love, as we have talked about before on the blog, can increase our happiness even well after they have passed. In other words, unwanted changes in our lives can actually become teachers offering a lesson on how to improve the quality of our lives.
While letting ourselves feel the emotions that may come in ways, expected or unexpected, once we are grappling with change unwanted, we can also discover much more about ourselves, the world and how we can best contribute and be part of it. I am always amazed how life wants to teach us, wants to show us how to live well, if only we would pay attention, and the case of unwanted change is no exception.
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