Family and relationship therapist Roger S. Gil defines change as “a modification to a person’s environment, situation, or physical/mental conditions that results in circumstances that challenge their existing paradigms (Dachis, 2013).” Based on this definition, one can infer two principles about change:
1) Change is constant.
2) Change is challenging.
Since change is not something we can avoid, it is vital that we learn to adequately cope with change so that we can continue to grow and develop as individuals. Let’s explore some strategies that can be used to help us better deal with change and the fear that tends to accompany it. So what are some strategies that can be used to help us better deal with change?
Redefine How You View Change
Many people have a very negative perspective when it comes to thinking about change. Change is seen as an evil that brings discomfort, inconvenience, and unknown risks. Roger Gil notes that anytime we are faced with an event that is incongruent with our core beliefs or is inconsistent with what we deem as typically occurring, we experience some level of stress, even if the change is good (i.e. getting married or taking a vacation). It is the stress associated with change and the negative perceptions often attached to change that most significantly impact our ability to cope with it (Dachis, 2013).
Socrates is known to have said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Thus, a key to coping with change is shifting the way we perceive change. While change can often be uncomfortable and full of unknowns, change is a vital part of learning and development. Rather than looking at change as a negative, the aim should be to see change as a pathway to deeper understanding and further growth. In doing so, we learn to view change as an untraditional route to a positive outcome and that shift in thinking allows us to manage changes in a healthy manner.
Expect the Unexpected
Since we understand that change is a continual process, another way to deal with the fear of change is to simply learn to expect it. While we cannot always know exactly when to expect change or what changes may arise, we can get in a habit of expecting things to vary in some way on a pretty regular basis. Facing each day with this thought process makes change less shocking when it does occur because you’ve put yourself in a constant state of expectation that will better help you deal with the differences.
Break It Down
Often, change seems so overwhelming because we are looking at the entirety of the change. However, a great method for making change easier to cope with is breaking the change down into smaller and more manageable segments via a process known as chunking (Facing History and Ourselves, 2019). Breaking down challenges into smaller bits and subsequently tackling one portion of a challenge at a time makes coping more feasible.
Change isn’t an end all be all. Rather, it’s an alternate route to a positive destination. Using the outlined methods to learn how to embrace change will make our lives easier to navigate and help us grow in our overall knowledge and understanding.
Dachis, A. (2013, February 11). Why You’re So Afraid of Change (and What You Can Do About It). Retrieved from https://lifehacker.com/why-youre-so-afraid-of-change-and-what-you-can-do-abou-5982622
Facing History and Ourselves. (2019). Chunking. Retrieved from https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/teaching-strategies/chunking
Rockman, A. (2019, July 23). How To Overcome The Fear Of Change And Confidently Face New Challenges. Retrieved from https://www.aconsciousrethink.com/6334/fear-of-change/