“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
Change can be either frightening, exciting or both, depending on your perspective. For some people, even just switching up their daily routines is a source of anxiety. Big life changes have the potential to shake even the most steadfast of us, thanks to the looming element of the unknown: you can’t always anticipate what’s ahead.
No matter how you feel about it, however, change is an inevitable part of life, and resisting it can be both useless and debilitating. Attempting to keep things as they are when life has other plans for you can be a significant source of stress. While short-term stress can be useful, as it helps us to navigate difficult situations, when it becomes chronic, stress is a killer.
If you allow stress to take over your thoughts, it can result in a number of health complications. Prolonged stress can lead to digestive distress, inability to focus on daily tasks, and can even compromise your immune system. It can leave you more susceptible to seasonal illnesses, spike your blood pressure and even increase your risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease.
Furthermore, if other people are experiencing a life-changing event with you or around you, your negativity towards it can affect them, and cause them stress as well.
While some changes are inherently difficult to deal with, there are some things you can do to get through the process with greater ease.
Say or write down how you feel
Start off by simply asking yourself how you feel about the change? If it makes you angry, say it out loud, or write it down. If it makes you scared, same thing. Start by naming your feelings.
Avoid the temptation to dwell on any of these feelings. Just say them and/or write them down. Making sure you are honest about how you feel is a great starting point in identifying ways to deal with a change.
Assess what aspect of the change really bothers you
Getting more specific, it’s time to consider aspects that are the real hurdles. Maybe you have been experiencing anxiety over an upcoming change, but aren’t sure exactly why. Taking some time to really get to the root of your fears can be highly beneficial, because then you can be much more clear on what steps to take to address it.
If you are stumped, talking to someone close to you can help you uncover what it is about a particular situation that is keeping you up at night.
Make a “worst case scenario” list
Instead of suppressing your fears, give yourself some time and space to fully confront them. When you have some alone time, it may help to actually list the worst case scenarios that can arise from a particular change. Be as honest and specific as you can, keeping in mind that this list is to help you personally, and you don’t have to show it to anyone else.
Seeing your worries listed out on paper can have many benefits. First, it can allow you to analyze which of your fears are irrational, or have almost zero probability of occurring, and which ones (if any) are more likely potential outcomes. If the fear is irrational, it is not worth letting it hold you back. Talking to a counselor or meditating (see below) are two ways to get a handle on irrational fears.
If some of your worst case scenarios are feasible, list steps you can take to avoid them, or to deal with them should they occur. However, if you have items on your list that are both likely and may lead to severe negative consequences, maybe it’s worth considering changing your plans in a new direction which is acceptable to you.
Of course, this is not always possible in life, but listing alternatives and considering all of your options can help you make the best plan possible, and allow you to be as prepared as possible for what may come.
Make a “best case scenario” list
The most powerful tool in dealing with change is to see it in a positive light, with awareness of all the good that can come of it. Once you have your negatives out of the way with your “worst case scenario” list, it is time to dwell on the potential positives, by making a “best case scenario” list.
Could the change, for example, bring you closer to certain family members or friends, give you a chance to explore a career path or hobby you have always been interested in, or teach you to be more independent? List as many life-affirming, positive outcomes of your change as you can think of.
Focusing on the possibilities that accompany the changes in your life can not only allow you to let go of much of your fear, but can also enhance your enthusiasm about what’s ahead. Seeing what good may come of a certain change laid out on paper can also help you to actively work towards making those positives happen, both by your intentions and your actions.
An added bonus: If others in your life are also experiencing stress about the upcoming change, sharing your list of positives with them can elevate their attitude about the matter, and even inspire them to create a list of their own.
Meditation is one of the most powerful tools we have to shed our worries about the past and future, and to center our energy fully in the present. This practice has a track record of success dating back thousands of years, and for good reason. On top of helping to alleviate stress, meditation has been found to have a number of important benefits for your health.
When you meditate, you give yourself the space to fully experience all of the conflicting feelings that may accompany a change. Once you feel them, recognize them and understand them, it also gives you the tools to let them go. The discipline that meditation imparts is the ability to live in the present moment.
Shifting your focus to the present allows you to take things as they come, with full awareness to handle anything and everything with grace and composure. Meditating regularly can provide you with the skills to see every change – and every moment, for that matter – as a fresh, new beginning, and an opportunity to take the best actions possible, without the past or future weighing you down.
While it may be difficult, change is bound to happen. Instead of fighting it, welcome it – you may be pleasantly surprised to discover a new world waiting for you once you let go.
-The Alternative Daily