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How to Adapt to Change

The skills of resilience can help you adapt to our ever-changing world.

Key points

  • The world keeps changing, and even though some changes may be positive and improve one's quality of life, adapting to change can be stressful.
  • Resilience skills, such as connection, flexibility and problem-solving, can help people deal with both positive and negative change.
  • Finding meaning and purpose in change, expressing one's negative emotions, and taking care of oneself are also important during times of change.

Over the years, psychologists have developed a number of theories about change with most of the focus being on how you go about changing yourself. But what about the changes that are occurring around you that you must adapt to? Developments in technology have far outpaced many people's ability to adapt to these new changes. I, for one, do not need a cell phone that will do all sorts of things that I have no interest in doing.

One thing we can count on is that the world will keep changing. Is more changing now than in the past? Yes. It is not your imagination or the fact that you're simply getting older. The reality is that knowledge about our world and ourselves is increasing rapidly and may outpace the human race's ability to adapt. Many of these changes are positive ones. In the next few years, we may be finding cures to some of the diseases that plague us. Stem cell research may hold the key to some of this.

The problem with change is that it requires us to change. And most of us do not like to change, even if the changes are positive. Change is stressful. Even positive change can cause stress because it requires us to do something different. We, as human beings, generally do not like this. Perhaps some of it is evolution and our need to maintain balance. We may be in a rut, but it may be a comfortable rut, one where we know the contours.

How to Deal with Change

The resilience skills that we have discussed in this blog for some time are very helpful in dealing with change of any kind, both positive and negative. Connecting with and communicating with others is important during times of change. Flexibility is probably the most important resilience skill in dealing with change. Digging our heels in and being set in our ways usually doesn't work. Keeping up with what is changing, making realistic plans about how to adapt and carrying them out is important. Again, communication about this is important. Problem-solving individually and with others can help the community adapt to change.

As I said earlier, most of us do not like change and we often have strong feelings about it — often negative ones. Finding ways to express these feelings and discharge is important. Be confident that you can deal with the changes that are occurring. Human beings are quite adaptable. That's why we've survived all of these years.

It is also useful if we can find purpose and meaning in the changes that are occurring around us and recognize that many of these may be positive. They may even improve the quality of our lives. Being able to see the big picture is important. The changes that are occurring around us will continue and probably speed up. Many of these changes may only be temporary because things will continue to change. Some of these will have a major impact on us, but not everything will change and not every change will have a pervasive effect on our lives. Blaming others for these changes or blaming ourselves will not help.

And, of course, during times of change, taking care of ourselves is important. Diet, exercise and maintaining our financial health are important. Last of all, we should look at being able to help others adapt to these changes. Helping others will build our resilience as well.

So be optimistic. What do you have to lose? Good luck with the changes that are coming.