Change can affect people in different ways, but I’ve noticed there are general patterns that show up on a regular basis for most of us. Whether it’s sudden change (that happens in a moment), or evolving change (that builds up over time), that first moment of change happening or the awareness that it’s needed is an emotional one. These emotions can range from bursting into tears (from happiness, shock, grief, or overwhelm) through to a happy dance or an adult-sized tantrum, popping a champagne cork or two or wanting to punch something. Whichever way it comes out – the emotions usually come first.
Emotions are the response…but what do you really need to DO after change rolls through?
Depending on the change, processing your emotions may be the only thing you can do (or feel up to doing) for a while. And you know what, that is absolutely okay and where you need to be. It annoys me how there’s so much out there in the media that urges people to switch to positive thinking, and moving on to fixing the ‘problem’, when you’re clearly not ready for it. Trying to rush your emotions after change will likely come back to bite you later (speaking from experience here).
I know sometimes you need to shelve your emotions to ‘get on with it’ and get a few practical things done – but my advice is 1) make the shelving only a temporary thing - those emotions do need to be processed for your own health, wellbeing, and personal development; and 2) if you need time out to have a melt down then you go right ahead and do it. Take the time you need to process what’s happened. Be gentle with yourself, be kind and give yourself the space you need to adjust. It’s okay to not have all the answers right away. It’s okay to be a bucket of tears or wander around in a daze. Allow yourself to process and shift and adjust. When you’re ready, you can take the next step.
So, what is the next step? What’s the first step to take once your emotions have peaked? Well, that’s when I step into project mode and take an inventory of what’s just happened. I write down, or mentally go over, what’s happened so the whole experience can take shape more clearly in my mind. For me, order in the middle of chaos soothes my brain and helps me find direction for moving forward. I ask myself things like:
Putting together answers to these questions gives me some order to the jumble and craziness that can go with a change experience. Even if I don’t have all the answers straight away, by asking myself these questions I know I’ll subconsciously keep looking for the answers while I’m processing the emotions or the basic practicalities of day to day that still need to happen.
Give it a go and see if it helps you.
Download the free workbook How to Stay Sane as You Navigate Change and work through these questions as they relate to your change situation – you can access the workbook here.
What's the first thing you do after the emotions of change have swept through? How do you start making sense of your life? I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading,
Change can happen in an instant, or it can be a slow burn that creeps up on you over time. To differentiate between these two types of change, I call the instantaneous variety ‘sudden change’ and the slow burn ‘evolving change’. In this blog, I’m talking about evolving change. Evolving change is something you instigate to put a different course of action in process – after you experience a trigger or some type of motivator that urges you to start living your life differently.
Knowing when it’s time for change can be tricky. So many people go through life just putting up with whatever life throws at them with an acceptance of ‘well, that’s just the way life is’. I used to be one of them. We get so used to living by rules, ‘shoulds’, and real or imagined expectations of others that we don’t think for ourselves about what we really want from life. It reeks of compliance, obedience, duty, and little personal investment for going after what you want and creating a life that fulfils you.
So, how do you know it’s time for you to make a few changes? How do you know if your current life is no longer ticking the boxes for you?
In a word, it’s stress. Stress shows up in moods and emotions, emotional responses to different situations, and the words that come out of your mouth (ever hear yourself starting to swear more regularly? Or start using more negative phrases in situations? Now, we all have bad days or emotional situations triggered by a bad night’s sleep, or unexpected news, or plans gone awry, or even something we ate. But when you have a consistent response (emotional, physical, verbal) to a situation, a person, an event, or a job (for example), it’s time to start taking notice. Here’s a few things I’ve learned to take notice of…
Frustration is a key emotional response to take note of when it comes to change. Irritation is in the same book, being a milder version of frustration. Frustration is a pretty good indicator that you’re not being true to you in some part of your life, that you’re feeling constrained in your expression and your ability to be yourself. Do you feel consistently frustrated in some part of your life? If so, what part of you is feeling restrained and unable to be expressed? What do you need to change?
What about tolerance? When you’re simply tolerating something it’s a form of frustration or irritation that’s simmering just beneath the surface. On the outside you’re okay with it, but underneath it’s causing friction. What are you tolerating? How is it causing you stress? What change would you like to experience instead?
Anxiety from stress can also be an indicator that something has to change. I’ve had jobs where I’ve been so filled with anxiety each morning all I wanted to do was throw up or curl up in a ball and not face the day. That’s not a way to live. It’s a huge sign that something has to go (big tip: for me it was the job!). Is there a part of your life that fills your gut with anxiety? That heightens your stress levels to where you feel unwell? Perhaps something needs to change.
One last tip I’ll give you is to listen to your language. When you constantly complain about something, it’s clearly a problem for you. What do you whinge about frequently? Listen to what you’re saying. Early in my 20s I came to the conclusion that whinging about something doesn’t change it. If you don’t like that part of your life either find a way to deal with it, or do something about it. Trust me, everyone else around you will also be grateful! 😊
If change is something you'd love some help with and you want to know when the next blog post comes out (I’m aiming for fortnightly), sign up HERE and receive a free 10-page workbook on How to Stay Sane as You Navigate Change. Or, call me - I'd love to help if I can!
Thanks for reading,
Life experience has taught me a lot about change - its messiness and my desire to circumnavigate it in a more efficient way. In this blog I share my experience so you too can survive change with a smile on your face!