Managing Change

I’m in a big phase of change in my life, and each day I notice that how to swing from welcoming it with open arms, to resisting change with everything I can muster!

And just occasionally, I’m able to simply surrender to change, and trust that whatever is occurring is the right thing, and for my highest good.

If you were to ask me about change, I’d tell you “I love it!”, and some days that’s entirely true. I truly believe change keeps my thinking fresher and my brain clearer. I’ll tell you it makes me more creative and happier, and even helps keep me young.

But that’s not the whole story. Here’s the real kicker… Change is destabilizing and anxiety provoking!

It’s downright scary. It’s frightening, and makes us fearful. It brings up many questions:

What if things don’t work out the way I want them to?
What if I don’t get what I want?
What if ‘they’ don’t like me, or don’t agree with what I’ve done?

Facing our fears

To manage change successfully we need to face our fears of the unknown, of the future, and so much more. Easier said than done.

Sometimes, I don’t notice the fear… those are the times when I simply move on to a task or request that’s less threatening, without even a thought. When I have the awareness that I’m experiencing fear, I try to get clear on what it is that I’m afraid of, so I can remember that it might simply be my brain’s inherent negativity bias, and also to see if it’s a ‘real’ fear. You know, those ones that truly are a threat to my physical survival, rather than me avoiding some kind of shame or humiliation.

At the same time it’s important to remember that focusing on fearful thoughts tends to attract more fear.

When I notice I’m once again expecting the worst, I begin to focus on past successes, and remember that I also encountered fears prior to each of those successes. Most change comes with fear, but I’m trying to train my mind to expect to succeed, and to create more positive beliefs about my future.

Negativity Bias

As Rick Hanson say in his blog pos,t ‘Take in the Good’ Nov. 18, 2009: “the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones.”  Put simply, we have to work at being aware of the positive things that happen to us, and remembering them, rather than exclusively staying aware of the negative or fearful events.

It’s also important to remember the upside of change. Changing my ideas, or my perspective, can help me be happier and can make my life better. It can feel great, and can be exciting. And sometimes one small change in outlook is all that it takes to achieve dreams, and goals.

Remembering both to notice the upside, and being aware that my brain is attuned to the negative, can help to defuse the anxiety that change can induce. Add to that a little bravery in the face of my internal gremlins, and my life can be so much easier, and I can get on and do the work that brings me joy.

What change do you want in your life, and what are your strategies to manage change?