Change is the only constant in our lives. It may be cliche, but it is true.
Our environments, relationships, minds, and bodies are constantly evolving. We can’t stop it. All we can do is learn how to accept it.
If you want to live a happier, healthier life, you need to know how to embrace change. Let’s look at why change is so difficult and discover a few ways for guiding yourself or your loved one through life’s pivots.
Why Is Change So Hard?
People often beat themselves up for being resistant to change. They think there is something wrong with them because they struggle with change or can’t embrace new habits or ways of life.
But the truth is: change is difficult for everyone because our brains aren’t wired for change.
Two of the most important functions of our brains are to keep us safe and limit our energy use. Change disrupts both of those programs.
Our brains see change as a safety issue. Our brains see something new as unknown and therefore, likely to harm us. Our brains are wired to keep us away from change. They try to keep us in the routine of things we already know won’t hurt us (even if the habits and routines we have are likely to hurt us in the long run).
Our brains see change as an energy drain. Our brains like when we engage in a routine because they don’t have to be on high alert. They can go into autopilot. They know what to expect and can relax and use less energy. Change, on the other hand, makes our brain work harder, draining our energy and coaxing us back to doing things the old way.
If change makes you uncomfortable, unhappy, tired, frustrated, or irritable, it’s not your fault.
Small changes, like shifts in our schedules and or the introduction of a new person in our life, to big changes, like moving to another state or ending a relationship, can cause our brains to go into a tizzy.
But, thankfully, our brains are malleable and fluid. We can train them to accept change, so we can accept change.
Here are a few ways to embrace change and teach your mind how to accept shifts in your life.
7 Ways to Embrace Change in Your Life
These tips will help you get better at accepting change. You can also share them with children or young adults in your life who may also be learning how to deal with a changing environment.
#1) Focus on the benefits of change.
Change is perceived by our minds to be negative. We have to teach our brains that change is good. You can do that by focusing on the benefits that you receive when change happens. As you go through change, continue to refocus on what you are gaining from the modification to your life.
Remember that you are:
- Expanding your mind.
- Learning something new.
- Developing better habits.
- Having new experiences.
- Becoming more adaptable and flexible.
- Making improvements to your life and future.
#2) Identify change (and the emotions that go with it).
When change negatively impacts you, don’t turn away from or mask the discomfort. Instead, name it.
Identifying a change and what emotions it is causing can speed up your ability to embrace the change. If you experience signs of stress or begin feeling frustrating, sad, or anxious, consider what is making you feel that way. Acknowledging the discomfort, and consider what you can control and what you can’t.
#3) Visualize the change in your mind.
If a change is upcoming, start to get your mind prepared by visualizing what life will look like when the change happens. By introducing your brain to the new setting or situation, you can ease your mind into the change.
Consider using meditation as a guide to calm your anxiety about an upcoming change and get your mind ready to embrace it.
#4) Maintain routines and rituals you can control.
A lot of change at once can be difficult. So if possible, maintain some existing routines and rituals. Change will be easier if you can accompany it with some predictability.
For example, if you are going to start a new job, wake up and perform the same routine to get ready as you have in the past. If kids are going to have a new babysitter at night, ensure that they follow the same bedtime prep that you do.
#5) Expect bumps along the road.
Simply knowing that change is hard will make it easier to deal with the discomfort that comes with it. Prepare yourself by acknowledging that there will be some negative emotions along the way.
Emotions can come without our permission. Remind yourself that you can’t always control them, but you can understand that the feelings will pass. Avoid criticizing yourself and others around you if change creates some tension in your life.
#6) Celebrate milestones.
Change is difficult, so give yourself permission to celebrate your ability to go through it. Reward yourself for making tough changes, and celebrate milestones along the way.
Remember to celebrate even the small steps. After making progress on breaking a bad habit, draw stars on your calendar to remind yourself of the steps forward. On the first day of school, reward your child by doing something they love.
#7) Ask for help.
Sometimes embracing change can be more than we can do on our own. Changes — especially major life changes — can be difficult. They can be more difficult if you are going through them on your own.
Reach out for support. Whether you talk to a friend, a loved one, or a professional, just talking about what you are experiencing can help.
Need Help Embracing Change?
Our brains want to keep us complacent and comfortable. Sometimes, they can get stuck in their ways, and we need a little help negotiating with them.
If you feel like you are having trouble dealing with life’s pivots on your own, we are here to help.
Loving Life has a team of caring, professional therapists and counselors to support you. We offer both on-site and virtual sessions that can help you cultivate the skills needed to deal with life changes.