Let’s face it, change is hard and within change is the inherent fear factor- leaving what we have known and are comfortable with and not knowing what the future will bring. Of course, the more comfortable and content we are with our situation, the more difficult it is to make the adjustment.
Yet even knowing that change in life is inevitable, it very often still fills us with a sense of grief. Losing a friend, job, or opportunity understandably fills us with tremendous sadness, as a break-up, betrayal, or disappointment can, but even seemingly happy occasions can be just as traumatic. Especially if they are situations that force us to move from one stage life to another. Graduating from high school or college, leaving a job or moving to a new location, birthdays, weddings and retirement can fill us with distress. Leaving what we’ve known, are used to, and are comfortable with, whether good or bad, can lead us to that overwhelming sense of loss and/or anxiety.
The crux of the anxiety associated with change comes from the fact that we feel that we are losing something. At times, we may even feel that we have no control. Shifting that paradigm will go a long way to making the process smoother and less painful and it really isn’t as hard as you may think.
Acceptance is key.
Although it’s perfectly natural to want to fight against the tide, cross our arms, dig our heels in to prevent change, it can be as impossible as preventing the change of seasons. Taking the time to fully understand your feelings and their complexity is an essential part of acceptance. As exciting as it may be to start something new, we may also be experiencing fear, nervousness, and anxiety about what we’re leaving behind. It helps to:
- Focus on the positives that the change will bring.
- Be patient with yourself- understand that it takes time to adjust to a new normal.
- Visualize specific benefits associated with the change, such as making new friends, navigating through unchartered territory, and discovering things about yourself.
- Get caught in the positive wave. This can help you see and focus on what you’re gaining versus what you’ve lost.
Being appreciative for what you’ve known and the joy it has given you goes a long way in moving on. Taking time to reflect on where the experience fits into the bigger picture is very helpful.
- Understanding that life is about growth and learning.
- Honoring what you have learned.
- Finding the gift in the change goes a long way in accepting what is.
It may take some effort, but it is possible to promote enthusiasm for what’s to come.
Sometimes, reflection and redefinition are called for.
Very often when you’ve spent a long time doing something, such as child-rearing, it’s difficult to envision doing anything else. It is not unusual to experience emptiness and disconnection in such a situation. Many people feel lost and confused about who they are when their identity had been so strongly associated with a particular purpose in life. Now that our role is changing it is not uncommon to experience an identity crisis. Having to redefine ourselves can often cause us to experience grief as we mourn the person we used to be, but it can also be exciting to imagine who we are becoming.
- Be patient with yourself.
- Take the time to get reacquainted with yourself.
- Identify how you have changed- what were you like before this stage of your life?
- What do you yearn for now?
82% of the participants who participated in a recent survey that I conducted on betrayal said that they wanted to move forward, but that they didn’t know how. When you’re in the middle of a major life change, no matter what the change, it’s hard to imagine ever becoming your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual best. But it can happen. It just takes a commitment to do so. You are worth dedicating time to understand and take care of yourself and to transform into the best version of you, yet!