There are a lot of changes that we go through during life, and, while we understand that change is sometimes inevitable, we tend to fear it because we can’t anticipate the outcome. Dr Lynda Shaw, psychologist and change specialist (https://www.drlyndashaw.com/) explains how we can deal with change and how embracing the unknown might be the best thing for our wellbeing.
“First, your feelings may be of shock, anger, and anxiety, or it may trigger ‘flight or fight’ reactions,” Lynda explains. “But, change is an opportunity to embrace and grow beyond what feels comfortable, build resilience and experience new things that we might otherwise never have done. Change is going to happen whether you like it or not, so it’s not enough to just survive change, we need to use it to thrive”. Here are Lynda’s tips to deal with change.
Instead of approaching changes with a ‘can’t do’ attitude, try to accept the challenge. “We’re inclined to choose options with a familiar and known outcome. Push yourself to consider other options and do your research,” says Lynda. “Avoid having a narrowing or shrinking fixed mindset, aim for a growth mindset. The brain is fantastically adaptable, and the chances are you can do it”.
“A positive mindset can be the deal breaker between you doing something or not,” warns Linda. “The outcomes are predictably in favour of someone who is often positive, rather than someone who is usually negative. Being positive and facing change is the best way to learn and move on”.
Give yourself a pat on the back
Even though we support the ones we love, we tend to forget about being our own cheerleader. “Having your own strong inner support system is important during times of change,” says Lynda. “Talk to yourself in the same way you would speak to and coach a friend. Dismiss constant negative internal chatter and replace it with gratitude and an occasional pat on the back for trying your best”.
Some say to push yourself to infinity and beyond. Others advise you to keep your goals and expectations realistic to avoid disappointment. Regardless, we need to be okay with not succeeding. “Learn that it’s OK to fail and learn how to fail well by picking yourself up and trying again using different tactics,” Lynda suggests.
Take your time
Making sure you take the time you need when making decisions can really help. “Demands for change can trigger our fight or flight instincts, cause stress and debilitate our decision making”. Lynda says that following your gut instinct is not just an expression. “Our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons and are in constant communication. It’s harder, though, to make good decisions when stressed, as we’re less reflective and more impulsive”. As such, take some time to make decisions so you can reflect before responding. It can even help give you time to summon the strength to make the choice if it is needed.
“Good health is crucial to giving you strength,” explains Lynda. “Make sure you’re sleeping enough and eating well. Obstacles can seem insurmountable when you’re overtired and you’ll feel less motivated, have trouble concentrating and be less productive”.