How do you deal with change? Do you embrace it or fear it?
There are many reasons why change can be scary, such as conditioning. Your parent’s worldview, their fears, worries and concerns create the environment in which you develop and their views can become yours by default, unless you challenge them.
Also, current affairs, no one in the world can have escaped reports of the C Virus. Keeping it in perspective though is another matter and someone with a demanding schedule may, for example, find it easier to deal with than someone who lives alone and listens to incessant daily news bulletins becoming more anxious by the day.
We like to be comfortable and in control and when we ‘know’ the outcome it makes us feel safer, so it becomes easier to stick to what is familiar.
Use it or lose it
Strangely this can work against us as we get older, although our steady routines and familiar routes may offer us comfort, for the brain to stimulate growth and carve out new neural pathways, we need to do something different, challenging. And change requires retraining the brain.
The definition of change is to replace something with something else, to upgrade, substitute or improve.
I did this some years ago when it became apparent that I wouldn’t be having children, I decided to start singing. Strangely one of the first songs I sang publicly was a popular Billy Holiday number, called ‘You’ve Changed’!
I really had to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn something totally different from my ‘day’ job as a Psychotherapist. Not only learning the words to new songs, becoming familiar with music charts but I really had to overcome my fear of standing up in public and singing. This is akin to standing naked in front of lots of people by the way!
Learning something new and honing that new craft will help you to become more resilient and flexible both mentally and it seems emotionally. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change itself. As a hypnotherapist I can vouch for that. When a programme (a habit) is no longer serving you, for example over-eating. Change it! Upgrade to a new programme that curbs that behaviour and offers you new ways of thinking and feeling about food.
We should welcome change because it fosters resilience, you may have heard the adage that the strongest tree is the bamboo because it bends deeply in the wind and will not snap during a storm. Can you bend naturally with the changes that life throws at you? Because one thing is certain, all the while we’re living there will always be change so better perhaps to learn how to embrace change than to engage in a futile attempt to resist what is?
Finally, I conducted my own mini survey and asked some people I know who have survived various adverse experiences, how they coped with change.
My neighbour Major George Whittingham coped with lockdown by learning a new piece on his euphonium each week. This was in preparation of a performance to an appreciative audience of neighbours and passing traffic! He also says his faith and an exercise of daily gratitude are the two things that have helped him through life’s challenges and at 95 he has had a few.
A friend who has survived several devastating life changes told me the best way she knows to cope with unwelcome change is to “Go with the flow, look forward and don’t dwell on the past.”
Surprisingly change becomes safe and familiar again when practised often enough. If you don’t believe me? Try this, fold your arms. Comfy? Probably because you folded them the way you always do. Now unfold them and fold them the other way, with the other hand resting on your upper arm. Feels odd doesn’t it, repeat it a few times and you’ll notice it begins to feel more normal.