Hey Socialites! If you’ve been keeping up with me on Instagram, you know that I’ve been posting quite a bit about change lately. I didn’t make any particular resolutions for the new year, but I just knew that I had to take control of some areas in my life that had gone into free fall: My weight, my finances, and my mental well-being. Now that I am 35 years old, I can no longer treat my body the way I used to, and I have to make a conscious choice every day to make better choices with nutrition, exercise, and self-care, and to spend time with God in prayer and meditation. Approaching change is not always easy…I am a wife and mother (like many of you) with a full time job, the blog, and multiple social media accounts to run, but it can be done. I’m going to share 7 ways of approaching change with grace & gumption, and no fear!
Realize That Change is a Part of Life
Change has to happen. Changes occur in our lives at regular intervals, whether we are aware of them or not. As part of our nature as humans, we normally do not like major changes and the fear of the unknown that accompanies change. To handle change in your life, you need to accept what is beyond your control and focus on your own internal transition to the new reality. Remember that feeling anxious about change does not mean that change is bad. Change is inevitable and often essential for growth.
I’ve shared before that holding your feelings inside is not always the best approach to working through change or emotions. It helps to call or hang out with loved ones or family members that you know will listen to you without judgement, and also offer sound advice. When my dog passed away a few months ago, I often had to call my mom or my sisters, and just come clean about the fact that I was really struggling with the loss of Grizzly, and that I needed to talk to them so that I could just unburden myself, if only for a few moments. People will typically make time for you when you approach them with sincerity and an open heart.
Give Yourself Time
I’ve always read that it takes 21 days to make something a habit, and I do believe this to be true. Sometimes a life change can happen overnight (illness, death, inheriting or winning money), but it will take much longer than a day to adjust to new changes (not to mention the lingering ripple effects.) You have to allow yourself time to go through the psychological process of change, even when changes are positive! I recently gave up a stressful career (Child Abuse Investigations), and although this was a positive life change for me, it took time for my brain to catch up and realize “I don’t have to do this anymore! I don’t have to have that dread in the pit of my stomach about what the day will bring when I wake up in the morning.” I had to give myself time to adjust to my new circumstances, and most people need the same amount of time (or more) as well.
Be In The Moment
One of my favorite quotes is a “simple” quote by Jim Elliot, but it has always had profound meaning for me:
I love this quote because it reminds me to always be present in the moment, to be the main character in my life’s journey, and to focus on the details…no matter how small they are! When approaching change, it’s easy to want to fast forward and see the big picture or end result, but it’s important to focus your attention on the here and now of the change and adjustment process. When Grizzly died, I began to focus on the smaller things, such as putting away/donating his items and food supply; walking past the pet aisle in Target without crying; and dealing with the new sound of silence when the doorbell rang. I allowed myself to get through this process instead of fast forwarding to “When will I get over this pain?”
Accept Internal Resistance
I’ll admit that I’m a creature of habit, and I enjoy routines. I’m also a perfectionist. This means that I have a tendency to resist change, and then beat myself up for not handling change the way I think I should. It can be easy to get caught up in this cycle, so we have to remember not to beat ourselves up through the change process. You have to accept that it’s totally normal to be resistant to most changes, especially changes that are challenging, such as getting a new job, relocating away from family and friends, or the loss of a parent. If you accept this initial resistance and give yourself time to process it, you’ll be much better off in the end.
Don’t Try to Control Every Aspect
Many of the changes we experience are often beyond our control. We cannot stop the hand of time, nor prevent death, downsizing and mergers, and so on. What we can control is our reaction to impending changes. The key to “taking your hands off and going with the flow” during change is to accept change components as they present themselves. It’s not easy, but you have to keep an open mind.
LET GO OF FEAR!
I have found that the number one thing that stops change dead in its tracks is fear. Fear is a paralyzing agent, a thief of joy and peace, and a negative state of being that is the polar opposite of how God wants you to live. Yes, change can be frightening, but it’s important to try to address and conquer your fears at the beginning of the process before allowing them to spiral out of control. With regard to change, it is usually a fear of the unknown that manifests most often, and this is normal. Of course you’re going to be afraid when starting a new job, or when moving away from home for the first time! But the one way to dispel fear is to cast down negative thoughts and replace them with positive self-affirming thoughts. This will clear your mind and help you to face changes head on and take control of them! For example, if you’re afraid of moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone, fear will immobilize you and keep you trapped in a lonely place. However, when you approach change with gumption, you’ll start searching for online social groups and communities designed to help you connect with new people in the area. Dispelling fear allows you to be proactive.
Finding a quiet spot in a nature setting can clear your mind and prepare you for change!
Knowing that change is a part of life doesn’t always make it easier to handle. But I have found that by following these steps to approaching change, and letting go of fear, I can be calm and comfortable in the face of planned or unplanned changes.
What are some of your go-to methods for approaching change? Share them in the comments below!