I love this time of year – you can really feel a freshness in the air of a morning and see the leaves on the trees starting to turn. I also look forward to the nights drawing in, getting out my autumn clothes and hunkering down to a cosier existence. London is beautiful in every season, but there’s something about walking through a city park in September that fills me with excitement and optimism.
Change means different things to different people – some love the novelty and excitement, while it fills others with fear and anxiety. It’s a cliché, but the one thing that never changes in life is change. Whether we like it or not, it’s impossible to keep things as they are. The cells in our body are completely renewed every seven years, our hormones are in a constant state of flux, not to mention our moods and emotions. From one moment to the next, we are literally different people!
Whether you embrace change or find it something of a struggle is neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’; but understanding your reactions can help you roll with inevitable ups and downs. If you are a ‘change junkie’ it can be worthwhile just stopping and trying to stay in the moment for a few minutes. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Now open them again. What’s going on with you right now? How do you feel?
If you have a tendency to fight change, it’s worth getting to know some of the psychology behind your resistance. There’s a great book called Changing for Good that I found really helpful in getting me through experiences that I wouldn’t have actively sought out given the choice.
The authors describe a five-part process, but in the interests of brevity, here are the three that I consider to be most significant:
- Preparation: first you don’t even see the problem; than you gradually become aware of it and make a decision that you want to change. This is the time when you plan your strategy.
- Action: this is the part most people think of as ‘change’ and involves introducing new behaviours or a new environment
- Maintenance: Where you reaffirm the new reality you have introduced.
This last year has been full of upheaval for me – big changes in my personal life, moving house three times (yes, three!), saying goodbye to old colleagues and learning to work with new ones, even physical changes like moving desks. I had to really sit with my emotions and work out how I wanted to act and what I wanted to happen in my life. I had a lot of work on and needed to shift my attitude from ‘this is hard’ to ‘I’m creating lots of opportunities’. I also really focused on increasing my energy levels to help me cope with the added demands on my time. This all took some time to process, but being gentle with myself while the change has occurred has been really worthwhile.
Don’t give yourself a hard time if change doesn’t come easy – especially change that’s been forced upon you. It’s a process and all change has to start with awareness. It took me two years to realise that I was reenacting conflict-avoidant behaviour I had learnt from my parents, and a further year to change it.
Lasting change takes time. So whatever stage you’re currently at in the change cycle give yourself a break. Accept you are where you are right now and that you will deal just fine with the change that comes. You might even enjoy it!