Changes That Come Your Way

Jeff Herring

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Q: I have just recently come to recognize that I don’t handle change very well, although my husband and friends have told me that for years. I seem to have trouble with changes that are out of my control. And then when I try to change things I want to change, I just don’t know what to do and get bogged down. What do you recommend for my question?

You’ve asked a very good question, and I’m going to use it to start a two part series on change. You see, there’s really only two kinds of change: change that seeks us out (such as getting older, job and relationship loss, etc. ) and change that we seek out (such as getting rid of weight, improving a relationship, making more money, etc). Knowing how to manage and what kind of tools to use with each kind of change can make all the difference.

This week we’ll look at how to handle the changes that come your way, and next week we’ll look at how to get the changes you desire.

Change that seeks us out

One of the few things that are constant in this world is change. At the same time, many people just don’t like change. As a matter of fact, the only person I know that always likes change is a wet baby!

Having said that, I believe that most people do not like change because they either don’t know how to respond to it, or respond poorly.

One way to think about this is that change is like waves on the beach. Just like change, waves are relentless, can be very powerful, and there’s really only three things you can do with a wave: let it knock you down, survive it, or ride it.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these three ways to handle change.

Letting it knock you down

We let the waves of change knock us down when we take what I call the “dead roach approach" to change. That is, flat on our back, feet in the air, and just let it take control.

You can tell you are taking this approach when you say things like:

  • “I’m so stressed out!"

  • “I can’t take this!"

  • “This isn’t fair. "

  • “Why does this always have to happen to me?"

    Surviving it

    Doesn’t surviving change sound like a good thing to want to do? While in a few cases it’s really the only thing you can do, it really isn’t the optimal approach to take. I don’t know about you, but merely surviving doesn’t sound like a very compelling way to live to me.

    If you’re thinking and saying these things, you’ve probably settled on merely surviving:

  • How can I get through this?

  • What’s the worst that could happen here?

  • I don’t know if I can take this.

  • What can I do to get by?

    The problem with taking a survival approach is that you just merely get by. When you’re ready to do more than just get by, it’s time to begin. . . . . . . . .

    Riding it

    Riding the waves of change means finding a way, or many ways, to make the changes work for you.

    Here are some questions to ask to begin to learn how to thrive on change:

  • How can I make this work for me?

  • What’s good about this?

  • What does this change allow me to do that I couldn’t do before?

  • What positive things might this change force me to do that I might not have thought of doing before?

  • Since life has handed me a lemon, how can I make lemonade?

    Change is inevitable. How we handle it is optional. Make the choice to ride the waves and you’re likely to create a compelling life for yourself.

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