How To Effectively Deal With Change

It’s Time To Empower Yourself and Stop Letting Changes Defeat You

The only thing certain in life is that everything can and will change when you least expect it. Yet, we spend an awful lot of time and effort trying to avoid or combat it. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, change will inevitably catch up. It could be the end of a long-term relationship, the death of a loved one, the loss of a friend, a move to a new city, a brand new job or position. 

Change is inevitable. 

There will always be transitions at work and in relationships. There will always be changes in both mental and physical health. There are new events in the world, change in the community. Sometimes you know when change is coming, other times it’s as sudden as it is unexpected. Sometimes change is welcomed, sometimes it’s disappointing. 

If you can learn how to deal with change effectively, then you will reduce the risk of anxiety and depression. Moreover, you will bolster relationships, live a healthier, happier, life, and experience less stress. 

If you are unable to cope with change, then you are likely to feel overwhelmed by even the smallest of stressors. You may also struggle with setting goals for yourself and achieving them because rarely do our plans unfold as we expect and being flexible and adaptable is a key skill. 

When you learn how to deal with change effectively you build resilience and it is that resilience that fuels personal growth. Change can defeat you or it can empower you, the choice is yours. Your level of resilience isn’t set in stone. 

There are different factors that influence it, though, from your upbringing and genes to your environment and support system. A different way of thinking can help you roll with change. Now, let’s talk about counteracting your natural response to change. 

Dealing With Change 

You can’t deal with change until you first identify what is happening. Often, we notice that we’re feeling anxious or stressed out, but we don’t take the time to zero in on the issue at hand. So, your first step is to identify the issue, label the problem clearly, and then you can acknowledge the emotional reaction you’re having in response to it. 

One thing that most people find stressful is a new boss. That can heavily impact on your stress level because you don’t know what this boss will change, how they will treat you, what they expect, and that level of uncertainty is difficult to cope with. So, in that type of situation, you have to ask yourself what your reaction is. Is it the boss themselves? Is it a concern about your work-life balance? Is it a layoff concern? Define what’s going on with your emotions. 

1| Worst-Case 

We are often guilty of catastrophizing a situation and believing that outcome is inevitable. It isn’t, but there is a benefit to thinking things through and considering the absolute worst-case scenario. In doing so, you think carefully on what may happen and as you write them down, you can come up with strategies to deal with the stress that comes from those scenarios. 

You might not be able to plan for every eventuality, but planning for the ones you can, can lessen the fear you feel about the change. Change is rarely as bad as it first seems, sometimes you just need time to get used to the new way of doing things. 

Using our initial example, what’s the worst-case scenario you have imagined for the arrival of your new boss? 

2| Locus of Control 

When major changes occur, it’s vital that you determine just how much control you have in the situation. When you know your role, when you know what you can control, and how much influence you have, it is far easier to deal with change. If you’re moving to a new city, then there is a lot about the process that you can take control of like the planning. If your loved one has received a terminal diagnosis, you can only control smaller factors surrounding the situation, such as cooking and cleaning to make things easier for them. 

You can’t control everything, but in our work example, what you can control is your attitude to your new boss and the level of work you do. 

3| Acceptance And Reframing 

When a change is unwanted and completely outside of your control, then you will need to try taking a reflective approach. You need to accept that some things are beyond your control and find a way to be comfortable with that knowledge. 

For some, it might sound like giving up. The reality is that by accepting you cannot control everything and that some change is inevitable, you will find peace of mind. Think of the time, energy, and hope you waste fighting against the unavoidable. 

You need to reframe your mindset and accept that change is an opportunity for you to learn, grow, and develop as a person. It might initially feel like a setback, but it isn’t that. It’s simply a new possibility and that’s true even if you have to fake it until you make it a little bit. 

4| Avert Avoidance 

One of the most natural reactions we have when faced with change is avoidance. We think that the best way to cope with change is to pretend it isn’t happening. It can be so stressful, so threatening, it’s easier to simply… turn off altogether. 

You’re getting letters from the bank, threatening foreclosure on your home? You stuff it in a drawer, unopened, and pretend like everything is just fine. Your business is struggling, teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, but you ignore the red flags and warning signs to launch a new product or service. 

Escapism can be harmless when it’s a temporary fix for a small problem. However, if you make a habit of avoiding reality, then you are making major trouble for yourself. It might be difficult, but you have to deal with things head-on. 

Rather than hiding foreclosure letters, contact the bank and find out if you can make a repayment schedule. If your business is in trouble, speak to your employees, family, and friends to see what can be done about it. You can’t avoid things, you have to deal with change. 

5| Find The Positives 

This is particularly challenging when you’re searching for the positives in an unwanted change. For example, your partner got an incredible job offer, but it means moving to a new state. You can’t deny them this opportunity, but the reality of it means massive changes and sacrifices for you. 

You have to leave your job behind to find a new one, you have to leave your friends behind and find new ones. You might have to leave your family as well. If you have children, they need to go to a new school, find new clubs, and it’s hard. It’s challenging. In fact, moving is one of the top stressors people face in life. It’s scary and when fear is a factor in change, it’s hard to find positives. 

You can, though you may only find the tiniest positives initially. In this example, rather than focusing on what you’re giving up, you should focus on what you get by moving. A new city to explore, new restaurants to try, new people to meet, a specific attraction that is on your doorstep, or whatever. Bigger positives include learning to be a more independent person because you don’t have friends to rely on in the interim. Or, learning to be more confident and outgoing because you need to forge new friendships.

6| Take Action 

If unwanted change comes your way and you do have more control over the situation, then you should be active in dealing with it. Take action where you can, whether it’s through problem-solving or goal setting.

Focus on the problems that this change will bring and develop a plan of action that will help you manage or counteract them. You can also ask friends for advice in creating active or useful strategies. 

7| Managing Stress

Learning how to effectively manage stress will be one of your biggest tools in dealing with change. With uncertainty, comes fear and stress. Those two working together make life unbearable and it’s difficult to come to terms with change when fear and stress are fueling your thoughts, words, and behaviors. So, using meditation, mindfulness, exercise, and other relaxation techniques to get your stress levels under control is an important part of the process. 

8| Managing Thought Patterns 

Your mind will cut corners all the time, but particularly during times of change. It may be that everything is suddenly black or white. It could be that you make assumptions about what’s going to happen and automatically jump to the worst-case scenario. Pay attention to your thought patterns because when you do you can push yourself toward resilience rather than despair. 

You can use relaxation techniques to slow your mind down to get more control of your thoughts. Additionally, you can generate positive thoughts by thinking about all the times you have successfully managed change in the past. If you need to, sit down, and write a list of all the actions and traits you have picked up dealing with change in your lifetime. Focus on strength, not weakness. 

9| Be Present 

As important as it is to take lessons from the past and even think about long-term goals when change is upon you, you need to be present. If you worry too much about the future you lose focus on what’s unfolding in front of you and often miss the warning signs of stress. 

10| Prioritize 

Resilient people view change as an opportunity. They recognize that these transitions help you identify priorities. What’s important to you? Where do you see your energy being wasted? Where would it be put to better use? How would you prefer to spend your time? What do you value? What are your goals? You are far more resilient to change when you have a clear sense of your values, goals, and priorities. 

When you sit down to work out your priorities, be sure to prioritize your health. Your mind and body have to carry you through life and you want them in good working order all the time, but particularly in times of strife. 

11| Embracing Support 

Feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of change is normal. You may feel it physically, with a stress or anxiety response. Or you may feel it mentally. Regardless, your emotional support network is important. When something big is looming or too many changes are coming at once, you need to seek the support and advice of those you trust and value. A simple phone call, an email, or even a text is more than enough to touch base if you can’t meet in person. 

If it’s bigger than your support network, consider seeking professional help. 

12| Meaning  And Opportunity 

Often, change is so difficult because it impacts how we think of ourselves and how we find meaning. If you rigidly define yourself, then you will struggle even more with change because you will struggle to find a new meaning. For example, losing your job will be a terrible blow because there’s a good chance you define yourself by the work that you do. It is a challenging change for anyone, it’s hard to deal with, but it isn’t the end of your road. Flexibility is more than about adapting to changes and new realities, it’s also about being able to seek out your new meaning. 

You can’t fight change, you have to look for the opportunities change creates instead. 

13| Prepare

Once you adapt to your new change, it’s important that you are prepared for the next change. Your new reality is new for now, but change is constant. Soon enough, you will be dealing with a new change, a new situation, a new challenge. So, take your learnings and be prepared to apply them to every change that you encounter. 

Top Tips For Dealing With Change 

While we highlighted how change can be negative, it’s important to remember that even positive changes can be stressful. Without no change, life would be boring. So, find balance! Too much all at once is unhealthy but change over a long period of time is natural. People who deal with a lot of change all at once are more likely to experience illness or accidents. So, finding a way to balance your attention and manage stress is important. 

Change. How you view change may differ from how your best friend views change. You may see it as uncertainty, they may see it as an opportunity. I would encourage you to see it as both of those things because change is absolutely uncertain. That’s what makes it so scary. 

Likewise, change is teeming with opportunity. Though you can recognize the time of uncertainty, it’s important that you focus on the opportunity. Ask yourself what lesson you can learn, what skills you could develop, and how you will develop and grow stronger because of this change? 

In times of change, it’s vital that you practice self-care. You need to eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. It would be worth your while to check in with yourself on a regular basis. 

Perhaps, once a month you should sit down and reflect on what’s going on in your life, how you feel, and whether there is any lingering stress or upcoming change you need to deal with. Often, we don’t realize it’s happening until physical symptoms of stress present themselves. Sadly, many people don’t even notice then. 

So, during your check-in, note any physical symptoms of stress. 

  • Irritability
  • Headaches 
  • Digestive issues 
  • Overeating 
  • Under-eating
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Muscle tension and aches 
  • Backaches 
  • Substance abuse (alcohol, illegal, legal, or prescription drugs)

If you have changes coming, but they are planned, then schedule them wisely. Don’t buy a new house while planning a wedding. Don’t throw yourself into a massive career change while looking after a terminally ill relative. Don’t start job hunting in the middle of a move. Big changes should be planned appropriately to help you manage the stress, fear, and uncertainty that come with them.

If you are dealing with sudden change, then do take time to reflect on your emotions. Are you scared? Happy? Angry? Sad? Excited? You will, more than likely, be experiencing several emotions, but it’s helpful if you can identify them. 

Once you’ve taken the time to do this, ask yourself some key questions. 

  • Is my emotional reaction justified? 
  • Is the level of my emotional reaction supported by the facts?
  • Am I overreacting in any way? 
  • Have I misinterpreted the situation? 
  • Is there another perspective? 
  • What opportunities are there? 
  • What can I control about this change? 
  • What can’t I control about this change? 
  • What information would help me cope with this? 

Any change puts a demand on you, whether it’s wanted or not. Having a child is a major change and is often planned. That doesn’t mean it’s easy! It’s one of the most stressful times you can imagine. Marriage is also a positive change, but it’s an incredibly stressful period of planning and change. 

A change doesn’t need to be negative to be stressful. Big changes include a milestone birthday like turning 30, 40, 50, 60, etc. Reaching midlife, becoming a parent or grandparent, and retirement are all wonderful positive occasions that bring great change and major stress and uncertainty. 

Empower Yourself 

If you want to live an empowered life, then you have to stop letting change defeat you. It isn’t enough to learn how to effectively deal with change, though, there are additional steps you can take to empower yourself. Just as with change, you focus on the things you can control. The things that will help you maintain a high level of empowerment. 

1| The Possibilities 

Unless you believe in it, Doom’s Day doesn’t exist. You are the one with the power, as well as the responsibility, to reach inside of yourself to believe that anything and everything is possible. 

The more open-minded you are to possibilities, the more creative you can become to ensure your wants and wishes can become a reality. If you’re all doom and gloom and you have an angry, defeated, or hopeless attitude, then those are the types of results you will get. You will inevitably live an angry, defeated, hopeless life. Your life is a reflection of your beliefs. If you want to see better outcomes in your life, then you have to create them. 

2| Focus

Change is a fact of life. Another fact of life is that things will happen and you won’t like them. Life can be unfair. Life can be unjust. Life is not always right. What you can do in these situations is focus on who you would like to be in response to these types of challenges. 

You are capable and that should serve as a constant reminder to you about what you can do once you set your mind to it. Focus on living your life authentically. When you live your life in accordance with your values it is much easier to maintain a high level of empowerment, no matter what’s going on around you. 

3| The Beat Of Your Drum 

When others succeed that does not mean you fail or are failing. You might have been chasing a promotion for the last three years, but someone else was chasing the same promotion. If they get it and you don’t, it is going to hurt like hell, but that doesn’t mean you failed. It means they succeeded. 

It might be difficult to get your head around that idea, but it’s the reality. You can’t shift your focus from your path to worry about what other people are doing. If you fall at a hurdle, the important thing is that you get back up and try again. If you get caught up in competing with others, then you will lose track of what you are doing. Empowerment isn’t about competition, it’s about contribution. 

Think about the number of athletes who get caught up on the top contender and start worrying about what that contender is doing, rather than focusing on what they are doing. They hit the media talking trash about a competitor, they focus entirely on beating that person, and then the world comes together to point and laugh when they fall flat on their face. 

We don’t like people who get too full of themselves, that’s ego and it’s destructive. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, focus on the beat of your own drum. That’s empowerment. 

4| Self-Trust

If you want to empower yourself, then you have to start building self-trust. You need to trust yourself to do whatever it takes to get things done. Trust will empower you to chase your goals aggressively. Without self-trust, you are more likely to doubt your skills.

You will build perfection in one thing and one thing only – doubt. There is no greater enemy to success than doubt. If you can dream it, then you are capable of making it happen. You have to show yourself that you are capable, that you have the resources to make your dreams a reality. The more you chase and achieve goals, the deeper your self-trust will grow. The more risks you take successfully, the easier you will find risk-taking. You get a better feel for when your instincts are on or off and that in and of itself is empowering. 

5| Networking 

Collaboration, not competition. That’s what you need to empower yourself. The media loves to talk about self-made millionaires or billionaires. Guess what? No one gets where they are on their own. It’s never a single-person job. 

True success requires support, which is why networking is an excellent way to empower yourself. Think about a situation where change came knocking at your door. Now think about how much easier it would have been to navigate that change if you had a strong support network that you could call on to fill your skills gaps. 

For example, you’re moving out of state after securing a great job. It’s an exciting change, but it’s stressful! You’ve never left your city, but you have a friend who has lived all over the world. That’s the person you phone for advice, whether it’s practical advice or someone who can help you manage the stress. 

Meanwhile, another friend is from that area and might be able to introduce you to locals to build your friendship group! You have a friend who is the queen of to-do lists and organization, that’s the person you call to help you get the moving ball rolling. By collaborating, you make things easier for yourself. This type of collaboration can be used in just about any situation. 

6| Do It With Love 

Do you know what thwarts failure? Passion! If we’re talking about the most powerful emotions we experience as humans, then love is somewhere near the top. That’s why people who love what they do are so passionate, so empowered, and often, incredibly successful. 

They define their success differently than you and I. From the outside looking in, others might dismiss their success, but you can’t argue with the joy they find in their work. When you love something, nothing can stand in your way. 

While change may knock you off course or throw an obstacle in your path, it isn’t powerful enough to stop you from reaching your goal. If you’re deeply passionate about what you want and what you do, then work no longer feels like work. It takes a more personal note. 

Now, not everyone can do what they love and get paid for it. If that’s your position and you can’t walk away from your career at this moment or change things up, you can still find empowerment. You can find the things you do love about your job and focus on them. You can chase your passions outside of work to feel more empowered in general. 

7| Walk With Humility 

With success comes people ready to tear you down, which is why it’s important that you walk with humility. 

8| Embrace Imperfection 

From ‘failure’ comes empowerment. It’s difficult to be courageous when nothing bad has happened to you. We cultivate empowerment in our darkest hour. Think of change and failure as a rock tumbler. You pop rocks into the tumbler and they smooth and polish the rocks you feed into it. 

The rocks come out perfectly tumbled, ideal for making jewelry, crafting, or collecting. It can take as little as a week… but it can take months as well! The rocks tumble together, grinding against each other, wearing off sharp edges, smoothing their surfaces, and producing beauty. 

That’s what change and failure are to humans. They shave our sharp edges, they smooth us, they produce a more beautiful version of us. We need those moments to become better people. We need those moments to develop empowerment. Without it, there’s nothing to improve on. Without it, there’s no pressure to evolve. Imperfect situations and moments in life provide you with an opportunity to grow. 

9| Leverage Struggle 

If you think back on your life so far you can pinpoint periods of struggle. The heavy moments where if you could have pressed pause on life, you would have broken the remote in half to do so. Life can be so painfully difficult sometimes. Sometimes you might feel as though you simply cannot go on. 

Everything is hard, everyone wants something from you, and you can’t find time to breathe. You made it. It might have been hard, but you got through it. When big changes roll into your life, the only thing you can do if you want to come out the other side with a smile on your face is by accepting that change and leveraging your struggle. It’s easy to say when you’re not dealing with it, but you can use the struggles you go through when dealing with change to grow and develop. 

When you think back on those periods of struggle, do you see how you have grown because of those struggles? Do you recognize traits you have strengthened on the back of those difficult moments of change? Do you accept that certain weaknesses contributed to the pain of change, but understand how that change helped you turn those weaknesses into opportunities? 

So much of life simply unfolds in front of us without us paying much notice to it. Start paying attention. The more attention you pay, the better you will get at handling change and using it to your advantage. 

To live a life of empowerment means you are open to possibilities and opportunities. You are a more cooperative person, someone who is focused on learning, growing, and finding success, knowing that it’s not something you can achieve without support. Stop looking at change as your enemy and start viewing it as a way to empower yourself.