What is change?
Can’t cope with change? there has been a lot going on recently.
Change happens all the time. Positive stuff like a pay rise or calling an old friend.
Or painful – a bereavement, a relationship split, or being made redundant. It challenges how you think, work, the quality of your relationships, and even your physical security or sense of identity. Whilst painful changes can be very difficult, if they are understandable, then this helps to accept and move on. Unsurprisingly the unexpected, out of our control changes we’ve all experienced during the pandemic and beyond has been a challenge to us all.
So let’s look at ways to cope with change in these difficult times.
How can it affect you?
How you feel or react to change can make the situation feel better or worse. Your reaction will determine if you can’t cope with change. If you aren’t in a great place to start, well its not likely to feel any better. You can take things personally or be defensive as a new change triggers feelings from past experiences which can often be outside of your awareness …I know, how hard does this want to be?
Accept or Deny?
How we cope can come in two forms:
Avoidance: which is escape coping
literally avoiding the difficulties of change,
putting up barriers,
not using new systems,
ignoring calls & text,
drinking more to avoid and self soothe painful feelings,
Proactive: which is control coping
positive approach that looks at what you can do rather than what you can’t,
Looks for the power and control in the situation,
Does not feel like a victim of change,
Gets support to accept change,
In other words – If you manage your feelings around change, then it’s possible to be part of or accept the changes.
Rather than it be something that happen to you.
4 stage reaction to change
There are 4 stages we go through when reacting to change:
Shock and Disorientation:
The sudden loss of anything – job, relationship, health can feel like an actual physical blow. This changes how you feel and your outlook on life as you try to make sense of what has happened
Anger and other Emotions:
Difficult changes often bring up anger. As a result its often the tip of the iceberg of deeper feelings. Not only does showing hurt or sadness make you vulnerable, but you also feel safer expressing anger. Trying to cope with strong feelings can lead to harmful destructive behaviour.
Coming to terms with change:
During this stage there is a movement from what was to what now is. This can be a slow process with avoidance and denial but letting go of what was is an essential part of coming to terms with change and looking to move on. Exploring and understanding what this change has bought up for you at a deeper emotional level will help with coming to terms with it.
Acceptance and moving on:
This is the full acceptance of the changed circumstances and the ability to manage your feelings. But this doesn’t mean you won’t feel sad or a loss, rather that you can contain your feelings, and no longer need avoidance or harmful activity to cope. Consequently you still have these feelings, however they don’t overwhelm you. Furthermore you know they will pass at some point. Instead the acceptance allows you to create or maintain proactive coping methods for life generally, like seeing family or friends (or making new ones), getting out in nature, taking exercise, getting a hobby or helping a cause.
Whether its through conditioning or your own judgement you can often feel like you should just be able to ‘deal with it and get on’ in life not taking into account how much your feelings and emotions affect your thoughts and behaviour.
Bringing it all together
So to conclude; to cope with change you firstly need to take time to acknowledge and explore how you feel. Once you understand what you are feeling and why, you can then draw upon our support networks and practise self care to reach the acceptance stage.
Undoubtedly this enables us to adapt to change and continue to grow.
Got any questions? Please click on the contact page to get in touch.
About the author: Chris Boobier is the owner of CRB Counselling specialising in anxiety, trauma & loss. Supporting adults and adolescents, she is passionate about helping people be their authentic self through counselling.