How Change Affects Emotions

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Change is ever-present. It’s always right around the corner, a few moments past having occurred, and currently in the midst of happening. While it’s widely discussed and often overly stated, there’s a reason why we celebrate it, fear it, and study it so much. Change not only affects the world we’re creating, but it also does a number on our emotions along the way.

It helps by starting with a simple understanding of it. Change can be broken down into two components. First, an event occurs. Either something old stops or something new begins. Second, a transition period follows. The transition period always includes some social or psychological component related to how we as people perceive and experience change. As an enlightened person, you likely understand that how the initial event occurs, often dictates what kind of impact the transition period will have.

Transitions simply stated, are marked by endings and beginnings. It isn’t always clear what kind of transition is occurring but typically our emotions hold a key to unlocking our perception of the change. If it feels unexpected and unwelcomed, we deny, show anger, reject the new reality and fight it from taking hold. Endings are typically marked by these emotions. If the change feels surprising and exciting, euphoria and glee take over providing an opportunistic perspective of what’s yet to come. Beginnings are typically marked by these emotions.

Regardless of whether you’re in an ending or a beginning, it takes a positive mindset to muster the motivation necessary to guide change succesfully. If you’re ever having trouble adjusting, consider the advice of author and health expert Jillian Michaels. In her Big Think video Tweak your brain chemistry toward happiness, purpose, meaning– she explains how emotions and our physiological wellbeing are intricately intertwined. Namely our reactions to change reinforce our brains’ chemistry to continue having those reactions.

This week consider the William Bridges Transition Model presented by Learning & Development Coach, Gary Tremolada. What changes are you dealing with? Where are you on the curve? Are you experiencing the change as something ending or something newly beginning? Understanding how transitions occur and the emotions they bear, can help you—and others around you—adapt to change more confidently.

“A transition period is a period between two transition periods.”
— George Stigler

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