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,
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!