Any life is a life of change. We experience transitions in work and relationships, changes in our physical and mental health, and new events in our local communities and our world. Sometimes we know a change will occur, while other times it comes suddenly and unexpectedly. Maybe it’s a disappointment, or maybe it’s a wonderful surprise. But change is inevitable. Change always was and always will be a part of our life.
Many people spend a great deal of time and energy trying to avoid change, but it will inevitably catch up to them. If you can learn to cope with change, you’ll lower your risk for anxiety and depression. Your relationships will flourish, and your body will feel healthier. But if you can’t cope with change, only a minor amount of stress can make you feel overwhelmed by life. You might also struggle to set and meet the goals you have for yourself.
Being able to cope with change is sometimes called resilience. Though your environment and genes might influence your level of resilience, the amount isn’t set in stone. Practicing different ways of thinking and being in the world can boost your ability to deal with change and help you create a life that is adaptive to new places and unexpected events. There are usually two ways that people cope with change.
How People Cope With Change
People tend to cope with change in one of two ways:
- Escape coping.
- Control coping.
Escape coping is based on avoidance. You take deliberate actions to avoid the difficulties of the change. For instance, you might deliberately miss training for a new working process, or show up too late to attend a meeting about an upcoming restructure.
Maybe you’ll trash letters from your HR department about layoffs, or ignore calls from a co-worker who’s just got the promotion that you wanted. Some people even take refuge in alcohol or drugs.
Control coping is positive and proactive. You refuse to behave like a “victim” of change. Instead, you manage your feelings, get support, and do whatever you can to be part of the change
In reality, most of us respond to major change with a mixture of escape and control coping. But control coping is generally the better option, as it is impossible to avoid the reality of change for long without becoming exhausted or damaging your reputation.
Stages of Reacting
Change can be difficult because it can challenge how we think, how we work, the quality of our relationships, and even our physical security or sense of identity. We usually react to change in four stages:
- Shock and disorientation.
- Anger and other emotional responses.
- Coming to terms with the “new normal.”
- Acceptance and moving forward.
But our progression through these stages is rarely simple or linear. We might get stuck in one stage, or advance quickly but then regress. And there is often no clear-cut, decisive move from one stage to another. Shock can change to anger, for example, with no obvious break between the two.
Dealing with change
Here are some tips that can help you dealing with the change:
- Think things through and ask, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’
- Ask yourself how much you can control
- Practice Self-Care After a Loss
- Check Your Thought Patterns
- Accept and reframe
- Be in the present
- Celebrate the positives
- Find Your Priorities
- Take action
- Manage your stress
- Seek support