Mindful Moment – By Courtney Conover
It’s the sound of change happening all around us.
It’s the sound of school buses pulling up the curb, alarm clocks blaring far earlier than we’d like, and, in some instances, it’s the silence that inhabits the space where noise once lived.
It’s the sound of September. And even if you live in a childless household, it’s likely that something with regard to your schedule or life has—or will soon–change.
And change can be a tricky thing.
Sometimes we rejoice about change; other times, though, change is an experience we welcome about as much as the prospect of chewing glass. Simply put, change can be hard no matter who we are or what we do.
I recently came across the wisdom of lifestyle consultant and coach Terri Babers, and I feel like her words are too apropos not to share:
“Whether you look forward to a change or dread it, change triggers powerful effects in your body and your emotions (sometimes called “stress!”). [But] you can increase your sense of control and steer your life into positive territory when you know how to deal with change.”
I’m no therapist or health expert, but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that—for most of us—the part about our emotions is what breaks us down. Meaning, just the mere anticipation of change can get our minds racing or our hearts pumping—and not in a good way. We’ve often decided we’re doomed before the change has even taken place.
We need to stop this. Not only is this uncomfortable, it’s unhealthy.
According to Babers, who describes herself as a personal growth junkie and flaming extrovert with introverted tendencies, this is what we should do instead:
Approach dealing with change as a process. Dealing with change is not like a switch we turn on or off. Babers says it’s more like baking bread. There are many steps and ingredients. Both baking bread and dealing with change take time.
Face our feelings about the change. This is especially pertinent when the change is imposed and beyond our control. Says Babers, “We need to get past the ‘Why me?’, ‘But I don’t want to!’, and ‘It isn’t fair!’ and figure out what our fears or worries are.” And that’s a process that takes work—and may even involve therapy. “You don’t have to be a victim, even when you are not in control of the change,” says Babers.
Figure out when to accept and when to reject the change. Babers references the well known Serenity Prayer for this one. (Google it if you need a refresher.) Babers says that we need to reflect on what we’re accepting, what we’re rejecting, and what we’re doing about it. She says we’ll be amazed at how effective our choices are.
Adopt an attitude of anticipation, and be grateful. Now, admittedly, this might seem like torture for the glass-half-empty folk. But Babers says there really is virtue in welcoming change as an opportunity and finding the benefit—somewhere—in the change. There is always a benefit and an opportunity. Start by keeping a written record for 3 days.
Choose your thoughts and attitudes about each change. Negative thoughts block our creativity and problem-solving abilities, while positive ones build bridges to possibilities and opportunities. Here’s a simple rule of thumb: As soon as a bad thought enters your consciousness, replace it with a good one. This takes practice, but it works.
Learn to relax (more). Deep breathing works for many people, exercise can help for others. Choose what works best for you. Relaxation makes change more tolerable.
Set smart goals so we can consciously guide the change. Smart goal setting helps us decide how to make the change happen and how to recognize our successes. Then, Babers says, we can write out our goals and our plans to meet them. (There are even apps to aid with this.)
We essentially need to adjust how we think about change. Heck, even if we attempted one or two of Babers tips, we may be better off.
I know, I know. It’s not always the easiest thing to do.
But as my dad always told me: “Nothing beats a failure but a try.”
Courtney Conover is wife and mom of two who has called Wayne home since 1995.