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Adapting to Change

Positive changes can be as difficult to accept as negative ones.

Things change constantly: Loved ones die. Jobs end, as do relationships. People get promoted, couples bond in marriage, and babies are born. And guess what? The positive changes can be just as hard to adapt to as the negative ones are.

Here are some tips on adjusting to change, both good and bad, to help make life easier.

When a good change appears, accept it with grace. You may not believe you deserve it, or you just may not be ready for it, but the only way to move forward and get the most out of it is to embrace the positivity, however it shows up.

When a negative change is looming, start looking for alternatives before it actually happens, if you can. For example, if you know your company is in trouble and you are hearing things that are making you insecure, don’t wait to get laid off. Start looking for another job. Even if your current position isn’t changed, you will have gained valuable experience and maybe a better gig.

Change is constant, so we usually don’t notice the little or the expected changes; it’s when you are caught off-guard that you can get discombobulated. The trick is to know that it is just one of the millions of changes that are going to happen in your life and, good or not so good, do what you can to just roll with it.

Emotional changes can be the hardest to adjust to. For example, when your heart gets broken, acceptance is not always an easy option. You may not have the strength or understanding to be objective. In cases like this, you need to process your feelings, and this can take some time. If you want it to go faster, see a therapist.

When you start to develop feelings for another human being, it is as though everything changes. Generally, people who are falling in love see life differently, and it’s really easy to get caught up in the feelings and ignore whatever else is going on. Take care of the day-to-day, and enjoy your sweetheart.

Take responsibility for how you deal with changes. One of my mentors, Dr. Albert Ellis, once said, “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”

If the changes in your life are overwhelming, you don’t have to deal with them all by yourself. Friends, family, support groups, and counselors are available, but you do have to reach out and ask, which can be hard. It may be a struggle, but you don’t have to suffer. The love of those who care for you can make life much easier to deal with.

If you are someone who hates change, then you are going to have to at least tolerate it when it happens. There is no law saying that you have to like what’s going on, but you do have to find a way to cope, because change happens, like it or not.

Life can be difficult to navigate in our fast-moving society. Things are changing so quickly these days that by the time you’ve opened the box of your new cell phone, it’s probably out of date. Learning (at your own pace) to deal with the changes going on around you is a great survival tool. We used to say “Go with the flow,” and that may be the most comfortable way to deal with the future.

More from Barton Goldsmith Ph.D.
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