Summer Skill Series: Embracing Change
What is Embracing Change?
Change happens whether we like it or not, whether we resist it or welcome it. Fear of change doesn’t deter its arrival. Plan and strategize as we might, we can’t ever know what the future will bring. As taught by the idiom derived from Benjamin Disraeli, “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
Worrying over change is natural, but we shouldn’t allow this trepidation to cloud our days. Embracing change isn’t about just accepting and planning for it, but sometimes actually leaning into it.
Why is it Important?
While worrisome, change can also be accompanied by exciting new opportunities that previously weren’t there. A change in career, as seen during the events of the Great Reshuffle, might lead to a happier life. Moving to a new home might be followed by new friendships with interesting neighbors. No matter how painful or abrupt some changes may seem at first, even those aren’t necessarily a catalyst for exclusively negative outcomes.
Rather, it might be our resistance to change that precipitates negativity—wake up expecting the day to go poorly and we’ll later tell ourselves that it indeed went poorly. This resistance, especially if dwelt on, can affect our mental and physical health in the form of stress or even depression.
Learning how to embrace change allows us to better prepare for it, making transitions easier and stress lighter.
How to Practice Embracing Change:
- Accept it. Everything changes. If we currently aren’t happy with a situation, we could work on transitioning into one more enjoyable. If we are happy right now, we worry that change will disrupt that happiness. Thus, as researcher Taylor Harrell delineates in this TED Talk, our resistance might come not from fear of change, but from fear of loss.
- Be flexible with it. Things come up; plans change. It’s important that we learn how to be flexible. Mental flexibility, elaborated upon in this podcast with psychologist Rick Hanson, PhD, of UC Berkeley, allows us to readily adapt as things change around us. Some things are beyond our control and sometimes we should just go with the flow.
- Plan for it. Change can be scary. New, undiscovered paths are always full of mystery. To counter this fear, we should prepare a path to success, outlined in this video by Practical Psychology. Like a rainy-day fund, having a contingency plan can also make change less daunting and help us bounce back swiftly.
Change happens. It’s beyond our control. But what is in our control is choosing to navigate it with grace and positivity, thereby inspiring confidence in ourselves and those close to us.
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