Life

How to Deal with Life’s Unexpected Changes Without Losing It

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on the old but on building the new." — Socrates

Life has a way of throwing things at us we never expect, doesn't it? Not all bad, life changes can encompass a healthy raise, along with the anxiety of performing well in a new postion. Change can come in the form of an engagement that requires us to move across country, away from family and friends, to start a new adventure. Often change has the ability to create anxiety and depression, even as it creates promise for future joy and happiness. Want to know the secret to triumphing over the negative without losing it? There isn't one. But there are several ways you can learn to cope with change that will, over time, help you worry less and allow those circumstances that sneak up on you to roll off your back.

Become Educated About Transition

According to Psychology Today, part of dealing with transitions is knowing how they work, and what you can expect in the process. For many, the problem with change originates from the basic human fear of the unknown. Turning that into something you can work through by anticipating how it will feel (and recognizing it) can help. There are three stages to the transition process. The first is resisting and reacting, which usually involves fear and discomfort, followed by adjusting and exploring, and then "living well in the New Old or the Old New." The third stage is one we hardly notice because we're no longer upset about the initial change that brought it on. But if you can recognize you're there, a self-congratulatory pat on the back will help you cope with future change and work as a reminder that you'll get through it. Read the full article here.

Focus on the Bigger Picture

I'll be the first one to admit that some of these concepts sound cheesy at first, but I'll also be the first one to say they're legit and have helped me through my own transitions. It's easy to be so caught up in what's happening right now, we lose sight of the fact that life really is a journey, filled with ups and downs over years of experience. Remind yourself that this is one of many changes that will happen in your lifetime and that not one of them signals a final destination, but a chapter in the novel of your life. Specifically, focus on how this change will likely project you forward. Positive forward thinking can take us out of the anxiety-filled moment and into more positive headspace.

Act Decisively

The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests that one way to become resilient in the face of change is to act decisively. Loss of control is one of the fear-inducing factors during a period of change. Making a decision and acting on it will help combat the feeling of being out of control. Your action doesn't have to directly relate to your change. Implementing a new workout regimen can be one of the decisive things that makes you feel like you're back in the driver's seat, as can starting a new hobby or pulling the trigger on a home improvement project you've been contemplating for a while.

Project Into the Future 

For a change that you've implemented, but that still gives you the heebie-jeebies, place yourself mentally into that third stage of living well. Imagine the best outcome possible and then place yourself in it. Or simply imagine how it's going to feel when the transition is complete. For example, you've got a move to a new neighborhood and are worried you'll be lonely. Imagine yourself already comfortable in your new digs, meeting new friends for drinks you picked up at yoga or a local cooking class.

Create Your Own Silver Linings Playbook

Positive thinking goes a long way to getting out of a tough spot. This tool works well for change that you didn't actively bring about. Sit down and write down what you have to be thankful for. Look at this list every time you feel anxiety relating to your transitional phase. It works. Trust.

Breathe

Yogis and other spiritual advisors have long been touting the positive effects of taking deep breaths. When the hammer comes down and you first realize the wind is going to start blowing in a different direction (or already has), take a minute to clear your mind and breathe deeply. Use this trick whenever you feel the pull of a lack of surety weighing you down.

Get Out of the River Denial

You really can't move forward until you've dealt with what's happening presently in a real way. Self-denial can mean the difference between the agonizing pain of pulling a Band-Aid off slowly, and the quick ouch that comes from getting it off all at once. Take that deep breath, admit to yourself what's happening, and then decide to move onward and upward from it, or make the very best of it.

Enjoy the Present

This is often easier said than done, but being aware of fresh air, literally stopping to smell a rose, or enjoying a pleasure as simple as a hot shower or cold glass of water can take you out of your worrying and create joy in the moment. The more joy, pleasure and satisfaction you can create in individual moments, the happier you'll be collectively, and the readier you'll be to take on your changes with aplomb.

image: Getty

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