Pressing Pause Podcast episode 44 Dealing with change
Welcome to Pressing Pause, the podcast for overthinkers.
I’m Gabrielle Treanor and I’m here to share with you ideas, inspiration and actions to empower you to spend less time overthinking and worrying and more time enjoying your life.
Hello and welcome to episode 44. Quick public service announcement before we get stuck in, I am currently working on my most in-depth, comprehensive creation yet to empower you to worry less, calm your mind, build resilience and enjoy life more. I’m pouring all of my experience, knowledge, research and practice of positive psychology into this brand new course and I’m not holding back! It’s called Worry Less for Life and you can sign up to be the first to know when it’s available, and get some helpful goodies from me in the meantime. Go to gabrielletreanor.com/courses and click on Worry Less for Life.
Now, we all experience change throughout our lives but that doesn’t necessarily stop us overthinking and resisting it. Because change is a part of life how can we cope with it better so that it causes us less upset, grief and stress? That’s what we’re going to look at today.
If the thought of things changing, of your life looking different to how it is now, gets your stress levels rising that’s okay. You’re allowed to feel whatever it is you’re feeling, pretending you’re fine with it all when you’re not is only storing up trouble for the future. Acknowledging that you find change challenging, and being kind to yourself, means that you can put your energy into dealing with change rather than wrestling with your emotions on top of it.
Because we evolve and grow as individuals and our lives change throughout our lifetime, there’s no avoiding it. People will enter and leave our lives, we change schools, workplaces, our home, change is happening all the time. And that’s a good thing because it means that we’re getting more and more experienced at dealing with change.
An initial reaction to an impending change in life could be the thought that you can’t cope, it’s too much to handle, you won’t like it. It may be that you have little or no control over what’s changing, it’s not your idea and it’s not what you want. But if it’s happening, whether we like it or not, we need to find a way to deal with it. Continuing to resist what’s changing, trying to hold onto the past and wish things stayed the same when they aren’t going to, just makes it all so much harder for yourself. If it’s possible that you can fight against the change and influence or even stop it than absolutely give it all you’ve got. I’m not saying that any time change comes along we just roll over and give in to it if we feel it’s wrong or if we believe we can affect it. However, when it’s something that is out of our control, when whatever’s changing is happening and we don’t have the power to stop or alter it, when we know that fighting it is futile, that’s when accepting it is the compassionate way forward for ourselves. By accepting the inevitable change we can begin to deal with it, to carve a path for ourselves to move forward into this new chapter of our lives.
Let me give you an example. Several years ago the husband of a friend of mine told her that he was divorcing her. There was no warning, he didn’t want a trial separation or to go to couples counselling, his mind was made up. He moved out, instructed a solicitor and started divorce proceedings. My friend was devastated, she tried to talk with him, suggested ways they could work on their relationship, everything she could think of to find a way to repair their marriage. But he was steadfast, their marriage was over. It took time, obviously, but when my friend realised she had done everything she could and there was no way the relationship could be salvaged, that the life she had planned was now gone, she accepted this painful truth. And she began to look towards the new unknown future and figure out the first steps into her new life. She sold their house and found herself a little flat to live in. I remember going shopping with her for new bedding, she didn’t want to use their old bed sheets, and I saw a small smile creep across her face as she realised that she could buy a duvet cover and pillowcases in whatever colour or pattern she fancied because she didn’t need to take into account someone else’s opinion or taste. It was a tiny thing, the act of choosing bed linen, but having this one, positive, forward-looking thought meant so much to my friend and allowed her to see that despite this being a change she never wanted, she was dealing with it, she was moving forward and she was going to be okay.
Every time there’s a shift in our lives, the wind of change blows in and everything gets thrown up in the air to resettle in a different pattern, it gives us the evidence that we can cope. Think back to what your life was like five years, how different is it to now? Some things may be the same but there will be differences. Think back ten years, 15, 20 years. Your life has changed, your path has swerved, taken sharp turns, probably done a couple of loop-da-loops and you’re still here, you made it through. You have a 100% success rate at dealing with change in life because you’re here now, listening to this podcast. Some changes may have been horrendous, they may have been painful and upsetting and more difficult than you could have imagined but you’re still here.
Look back over those memories and there will be evidence of changes that were good, great in fact. New people who came into your life, places you’ve been, experiences you’ve had that you loved, that you got so much enjoyment from, changes that have enriched your life and make it even better. Do you wish these changes had never happened?
Sometimes change can look like something we don’t want, something that’s going to make life harder but perhaps only in the short-term. In the long-term this change could make life so much better and we don’t even know it yet. Change gives us opportunities, it can open doors and lead us to new people, places and experiences that enhance and improve our lives more than we could have imagined. Going back to my friend whose husband ended their marriage so abruptly, she’s happy in her work, her home, in her relationship and they have a child who would never have been born if her life hadn’t taken that unexpected turn.
So what are the practical things you can do when change is happening in your life and you’re feeling worried or stressed about it?
First of all, don’t beat yourself up for feeling nervous, upset, scared or angry. Acknowledge that you’re finding this difficult and be kind to yourself. Watch out for your self-talk, are you ‘shoulding’ yourself, calling yourself names or being far more critical than you would be to a friend? In last week’s episode 43 we looked at using affirmations so listen back to see how creating a positive belief statement could help you.
Don’t let the issue of change be all-consuming, keep some perspective. Look at all of your life as a whole and find what is going well, what you have to smile about, the people who make you laugh or who care about you, what you have to be thankful for. If you don’t already have a gratitude practice start one now, listen to episode 3 for more on how to do it and how it helps.
Imagine it’s a friend who’s going through this, who feels the way you do, what would you say to them? How would you treat them? Then do the same for yourself, take care of yourself as you would a friend who’s struggling with this change.
Look back over your life and find the evidence for when you coped with change. It’ll be there, even if you have to dig a little. And while you’re reflecting on the past also think about times when initially a change felt like a bad thing but actually, because of the change, your life was made better by it. Opportunities opened up for you and you can see the positives that arose from your life taking that different turn.
And finally, if the change you’re experiencing is completely out of your control, remember that what you do have control over is how you respond to it. You can choose whether you hold onto the past, willing things to stay the same and being angry with the world that they’re different, when you know deep down that this change is inevitable. Or you can recognise that this is difficult, unfair and upsetting perhaps, that you have dealt with change in the past so you can cope with it this time too, and look to how you want to move forward, towards your new future.
As I mentioned at the start of the episode I am creating a brand new course to empower you to worry less, calm your mind, build resilience and enjoy life more and if you want to be the first to know when it’s available, and get some helpful goodies from me in the meantime, sign up through the link in the show notes for this episode 44 at gabrielletreanor.com/podcast. You’ll find the links for the other episodes I mentioned there too.
Thanks for listening, until next time, lovely people.