I have a difficult time managing change. At work, I have recently been transferred to a different department, therefore dealing with a new boss and assignments. At home, I chose to sell my house in order to save money, but I am not enjoying my new neighborhood. On top of that, I am in a new relationship. That part is positive, but it is new, and the changes all at once are overwhelming. How do I cope?
There are both changes that are imposed and those we choose. Your situation includes both. Although managing self-imposed changes is slightly different than managing changes that you did not choose, they both have similarities. I recommend three practices when managing change.
The first is to float with the emotional side of change. When we get a fever, we often take medicines to reduce the fever, which temporarily manage the pain. The downside is that the medications also keep us sick for a longer period of time because the reduction in temperature prevents the body from fighting the illness. The emotions we experience during change are like the fever. If we suppress them, then they last longer. So it is wise to let yourself feel the pain. Let yourself experience the frustration and overwhelming feeling. It goes without saying that there are unhealthy ways of expressing emotions. On the one hand, you will need to prevent yourself from saying or doing destructive things with your emotions. On the other hand, however, you must feel and express those emotions in a constructive way. Let the emotions out by getting exercise, talking with friends, crying and yelling into a pillow, if need be. Spend time with people who understand and will listen understandingly.
The next step is more intellectual. Set small goals that allow you to recognize little victories along the way. Progress is one of the strongest motivators in life. Most of us make progress on a daily basis, but few people stop to recognize and celebrate these victories. Change is managed over time. You won’t see the end result of imposed or chosen change for days, months or years, but it will be accomplished in tiny increments. Take account of the progress you make no matter how incremental it may be.
The third way to cope with change is to keep your focus on what you will become and what you will achieve when the change comes to fruition. Most people state their desired outcomes in negative ways, which slows the process down. For example, they say, “I don’t want to be unhappy (poor, sick, sad or unproductive) anymore.” That is like saying to yourself, “I don’t want to think of the color blue any longer.” All that does is get you thinking about the color blue. If you want happiness, then you must say, “I want to be happy.” We all go in the direction of our most dominant thoughts.
This is true in our spiritual lives as well. If we want to avoid sin, then we must focus on virtue, not sin. If we want to love God and not the world, then we must put our focus on him. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you through change, and he will do the heavy lifting. Praise God for allowing you the opportunity to grow in this way.
Catholic business consultant Dave Durand is online at DaveDurand.com.