Change: That Silly Little Thing I’m Doing Yet Again

February 20, 2013  |  Behavior Change  |  Share
Change: That Silly Little Thing I’m Doing Yet Again

There’s always an opportunity to learn, my friend, Kim, always says. Today, I’ve learned something about myself. I struggle with change. Ok, so I haven’t just learned this today, I mean, I’ve already devoted an entire post to change and how much of it I’ve done and the negative consequences of doing too much of it at once, I’m just reminded of it again today as I find myself on a new but familiar path, juggling flames again. (Some of us have to do things a few times to really get the lesson….)

So my latest round of big change is getting married and starting a new job in short order. New job has started; wedding is coming up in May. I’m very happy about both, yet they are both big life shifts that come with their own stressors. And I think I’m stressed.

Stress for me is insidious. I don’t feel it right away; I don’t even feel it overtly. Most times, my only clue is that I start to slip. I turn inward and unwittingly shut out my most important people. My job performance isn’t 100%, not that it shows so much as I know it in my heart. (And in a new job, no less, way to go, Kirsten.) I feel off. A little paralyzed. I resist the things I’m supposed to do and do things I don’t usually do.

Am I looking for control when I feel like I’m losing it? It’s not that I’m a control freak, I think it’s just that innate human reaction, the need to feel as though we have some ability to choose the direction of our lives regardless of how the world is swirling. I’m usually pretty steady in a swirling world; but when the ground really shakes my tree, I tend to lose a few coconuts here and there.

So, in taking a hard look in the mirror, I have to admit I don’t really do change very well. The problem is that I tend to do it in big swaths and think I’m managing just fine when, in fact, I’m faking it…and not really making it. Does this ever happen to you?

I wonder who has mastered this change business? Anyone? Bueller? I’d love to know the secret.

Change Begets, Well, All Sorts of Stuff

There are some pretty ugly things that come from change, like distress, depression, anxiety, physical pain, and emotional pain.  Sometimes those thing go away when the source of stress goes away. I fall on the emotional end of the spectrum – depression, avoidance, withdrawal – and thankfully, these feelings resolve when the source of stress resolves. For some of you, however, they linger. Forever.

What then? In all honesty, I wish I had the answer. Is it enough to say, just keep moving forward? It has to be. Having a positive outlook may not be a cure all; but without doubt, focusing on the negativity, ruminating and getting stuck are absolute exacerbaters (you know, if there were such things). So you keep moving forward.

Live your life as best you can.

Talk to people – family, friends, doctors, therapists, strangers. Of course, with strangers, you run the risk of them thinking you’re a crazy person if you just walk up and start unloading. But then again, they’re strangers, so who cares, right?

Take care of yourself – seek treatment, be experimental and try new techniques if old ones haven’t worked. Think exercise, mindful meditation, yoga, acupuncture, Tai chi, diet changes, medications, behavior change. There are a whole host of things you can do proactively to help yourself feel better, to cope, to manage day to day.

Seek solace in the familiar. Change implies new and unfamiliar. While this is often good, arguably even the whole point, it can be unsettling. You’ll find all sorts of comfort in your family and friends, your home, places you know, memories, even a warm cup of coffee and a book. A bit of time spent with some known creature comforts, in whatever form they come, can help keep you grounded while you usher in something entirely new.

Most of all, learn something. Believe me, I get that change is hard; when it leads to chronic pain, that’s bad and depression just sucks. I also understand fully that change can be really, really ugly so I don’t mean to paint too rosy a picture of sunshine and pink ponies on the other side. But the worst possible outcome from change is not learning from it. Regardless of whether the change is positive or negative or the side effects hurt or don’t hurt, there is always something to learn from change. Don’t overlook the opportunity.

Not being one to avoid a taste of my own medicine, what have I learned? Aside from the fact that I struggle with change more than I care to admit…repeatedly? I have way too much respect for your time to list everything (you’re welcome), but here’s something. Complacency is worse than change. Change stimulates, challenges, teaches and builds character. It’s good to lose a few coconuts every now and then, new ones will always grow in their place – they might have a little familiarity to them, but they’ll be a little different, a little more interesting.

What have you learned from a big life change or two?

[photo: flickr]

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