When change thunders through your life or appears like dark clouds on the horizon…how do you respond? Do you run and hide under the covers? Do you stand still and hope it goes around you? Or do you gather your internal army and stand strong, ready to take on whatever is coming your way?
None of these are wrong: they’re all instinctive responses to an incoming stressful event. Which is exactly what change is: an incoming, unknown entity which by that very definition is likely to get the heart beating a little faster. However, knowing how you respond to change can help you be more prepared for it.
I used to be someone who stood still and hoped the change just passed me by. If I didn’t make eye contact, it wouldn’t know I was there, right? Ah, no. Usually that just meant I got bundled up in the change circus and dumped out the other side of the big top with little clue about how I got there. Not much fun, but I made it through.
However, as you may know, I can’t stand inefficiency – and I found this way of approaching change to be really inefficient. So I tuned in to when I started to freeze and mentally sidle towards a quiet place where I hoped life would pass me by. That ‘freeze’ feeling became my trigger to recognise that change (i.e. a stressful incoming event) was coming – and then I could start to prepare. I would assess what was happening, how big the change was, what the impacts were, and how it might affect me. From this quick assessment, I would mentally run through options of what I could do next to optimise the inevitable change. (The result was usually a much more ‘productive’ experience of change. I’m not saying it was easy, or without emotional fallout, but I could ride the wave with more awareness and engagement. Awareness and engagement with change leads to greater personal development, and saves you experiencing the same change over and over again – but that’s a story for another day).
My point here is to recognise your default response to change, or at least to ‘incoming stressful situations’, whether that’s to fight, flight, or freeze. By ‘recognise’ I mean notice how you feel. Notice sensations in your body, your mind, and your emotions. Learn to read your emotional responses so you instinctively become aware of ‘that sensation’ which alerts you that change is coming. Don’t get bogged down in what you do next (unless you’re ready to go there – again, that’s a different story) – just start to attune yourself to your response. Once you start to become aware of that response, ask yourself ‘why’. Why do you respond in that way? Why is your response to fight and not freeze? Or why do you freeze instead of running away or fighting? What’s going on in your mind at that point? What thought processes are happening so fast you’ve never stopped to reflect on them, until now?
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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!