Written by Kaitlin Armon, LPC
Change: The only thing that is ever constant! If that is the case, why are change and transitions so difficult for so many of us? We feel like a fish out of water. Change is uncomfortable.
Insights about why change and transitions are so hard for us:
Many people thrive from routine and consistency. These things provide structure and order to our days and our lives. However, what happens when we cling too tightly to them? We don’t have the answer to what happens when something shifts unexpectedly in our lives. As a result, we often become angry, anxious, upset, and unsettled.
We have conscious and sometimes unconscious expectations of how our lives SHOULD be. We expect that our relationships should be this way, or our jobs should go that way. **Expectations alone aren’t the problem here; how tightly and rigidly we cling to these expectations become the issue.**
Change reminds us that we are not in control. Most of us live with some level of illusion that we are in control of all the aspects of our lives. But change can pull the rug from underneath this illusion and create some unsettling thoughts and feelings for us.
If change is hard for us, what can we do about it?
Practice Radical Acceptance: Accepting the things I cannot change by following these tips:
“I don’t have to like it, but I’m accepting that, it is what is.”
“I don’t like that I am dealing with this unexpected illness, but I accept this Is my current reality and I will do what I can to best cope with it in the moment.”
“I don’t like that my daughter or son, significant other, or parents are acting a certain way, but I accept that they get to choose how they act and I get to choose how I respond.
Accept rather than resist; allow rather than fight, lean in and allow growth and tolerating distressing feelings; find the good in the pain of unmet expectations.
Begin to explore your expectations for your life and any “I should or should not” expectations you are expecting. Exploring these areas will help you have insight as to whether these expectations are realistic; if not, this is could be a good time to alter them.
An example of improving expectations- “I should feel happy all the time” the reframe: “It is normal to experience a wide range of emotions, including happiness and I will do what I can to increase happiness in my life. However, I need to leave space for other emotions too and accept them rather than resisting them or not expressing them.”
Identify the things in your life that ground you; lean into those things during times of change and transition.
If you are person of faith, lean into your higher power or spiritual beliefs and trust good things come from our trials and unmet expectations. Trust and have faith.
If you have friends and family that help ground you in your life, make a point to connect with them regularly .
If exercising regularly or practicing self-care grounds you, make sure to plan these in your weekly schedule.
In summary, challenge your, “I should, they should, it should” thoughts, and replace with I accept, I can adjust and be flexible, growing in flexibility of my reaction to the unknown, unplanned, unexpected.
If you need help adjusting to your current transitions, please email Jenny@centerforcourage.com and schedule an appointment with me, Kaitlin Armon, or with another of our trained and caring counselors. You may also call (815) 707-4806 for the intake department. We care about you and you are not alone.