Change is an inevitability. When we plan a change we can probably just about cope but when the change is enforced it can be a major upheaval. In this blog I discuss how change can impact us and give suggestions on how we can manage it.
No Change - No Growth
Resistance to change is often a result of fear. This is due to the way the brain has been hardwired with a fight or flight response. We are also wired to favour predictability. The trouble is though, that without change, growth can’t happen.
If you can welcome the change you can welcome new opportunities that present themselves. A challenge to that which is familiar is a good thing and allows you to mature into a better person. If we look at nature change is constantly happening.
We get different seasons which means that we get wonderful flora and fauna. In countries where there is no change in season, the flora and fauna and noticeably lacking save for a few determined things.
When I was forced to move house again recently I struggled! The life coach side of me was celebrating the move as an opportunity for a fresh start whereas the autistic side of me was dreading it!
Throughout evolution the human brain has developed a heightened awareness of potential threats to stay alive. The brain is naturally more sensitive to negative stimuli and will focus on the negative in any situation.
Change Has Its Own Grieving Process
Sometimes we grieve the end of something when change happens - especially enforced change. With this in mind it is only natural that we should move through the various stages of grief as we work towards accepting change.
First we have denial. When the change is unexpected we will tend to focus on what was. The brain enjoys familiarity so we try to convince ourselves that things will remain the same and that the change isn’t going to happen.
Next - anger. We get angry because the change is happening (especially if it’s been forced upon us). It’s the old fight-or-flight trigger again and our limbic system (which control the anxiety and fear emotions) kicks in. Blame is likely to occur at this stage which will lead to frustration.
After that we’ll try to make a deal to stop the change from taking place. We try to negotiate our way out of the change. We’ve accepted that it’s real but you don’t want to lose control. We try to seek advice to try and alter what is changing. This is known as the bargaining stage.
Eventually it is likely that we’ll feel emotionally heavy because of the change. This is depression and it happens when the full impact the change brings is registered. Your cortisol levels may increase which can impair your memory and concentration. You may feel apathetic and isolated.
Finally we come to an acceptance. The change is happening, we can’t keep resisting it and so we decide the best thing to do is to choose to move ahead with it. It is not unusual to feel excited, optimistic, or simply tolerant…in fact you may get all three.
As I mentioned earlier when we fear change, instead of looking forward to the future, we might dread it. We won’t see new opportunities, we’ll only see obstacles. One thing that helped me with the house move was meditation as it helped me view the uncertainty more positively.
At first I was determined not to move house. I asked the Universe to help me find a way to buy the house. This didn’t happen. The Universe gave me the answer I needed not the one I thought I wanted. I’m a little scared about starting my businesses from scratch - but I’m also excited.
There is a lot of work I need to do to ensure success, but this clean slate gives me the chance to wheedle out that which didn’t work previously. I can set things up methodically and be creative with my thoughts.
Having creative thoughts is a brilliant way to embrace change. There are three main networks in the brain which produce creative thoughts, and through meditation I was able to tap into them. The networks are all tied in with each other and often work at the same time.
The Default Mode is imagination. Imagining what it would be like to start my businesses in a new way was exciting. I was able to think of creative solutions and ideas to issues that may arise. The other two areas are Salience and Executive Attention (Central Executive).
The more I focussed on imagining how I’d like things to be the more my brain was unable to rely on past connections. The past had taught me lots of things that I knew would work, but it also taught me what I needed to modify.
The more I practised my innovative thinking, the more I was starting to embrace the change. This does’t mean it’s all plain sailing and that everything is going right…it isn’t - but by working on my creative thinking I’ve been able to think of possible solutions.
How to Embrace Change
Here, in conclusion, are some ideas to help you start embracing change:
Meditation - Meditation helps you focus on one thing, if you can think of positive things, that will help you view uncertainty with a little more positivity. There are many programmes out there, but I sell custom made meditations for this very purpose.
Innovative Thinking - As with everything to do with the mind (and body), the more you use it the stronger it gets. Creative thinking forms new neural pathways in your brain which helps you innovate more. Get creative (in any way (art, music, dance, cooking, etc.) and see the change!
Innovative Resilience - The more you can practise innovative thinking the better. Innovative thinking reduces feelings of stress and nervousness, which enables you to change gears from fight-or-flight to acceptance, quickly.
Positive Thinking - If you’ve spent much of your life thinking in a negative or cynical way, positive thinking can be a challenge. Making the effort to do so can really help you move forward. If you find yourself thinking, negatively don’t tell yourself off…but do acknowledge it and rectify.
Make Changes - Don’t wait for change to be enforced. Actively seek out change. Look for new opportunities to learn and develop. As Sidney Poitier said “A person does’t have to change who is to become better.”
Baby Steps - Don’t think you need to do everything at once - especially if it’s a big change. Prioritise what needs to happen and what you can do to facilitate it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.