How to Deal with Change in Your Life

by Pooja Lahana
“If everybody feels fear when approaching something totally new in life, yet so many are out there ‘doing it’ despite the fear, then we must conclude that fear is not the problem.” ~Susan Jeffers

 Have you heard of these: “Humans are a creature of habit” and “Change is the only constant in life”? The two sentences are clearly contradicting each other, yet established as “true” by philosophers and psychologists alike.

 Let me say it straight: I, like most of you, find change quite challenging to cope with. Although I used to feel a bit self-conscious while admitting this earlier, I say it with no regrets now. After coping with major life transitions like quitting my stable job of 5 years in order to pursue my passion for writing; moving countries; getting married to someone I met only a few days before (yes, it turned out quite well!), I have learnt one that change is only as hard as we allow it to be.

 Most people will find change uncomfortable. Why? Because it brings the unwelcomed loss or an end along. This in turn, throws you out of your comfort zone or the safe haven you’ve created, spirals your life out of balance and brings more chaos. For example, an end of a relationship or loss of a loved one. Now, don’t get me wrong – I do understand how difficult major life transitions can get. Yet, some people get by easily whereas others tend to be stuck for long periods to come.

 So what’s the secret of those who are more adaptable to new life circumstances? How do they do it? Does it mean they have no feelings? Are they too detached to yearn for something or someone? Hardly so.

 It’s not about the change itself – it’s about how the adaptable ones respond during these turbulent times. One of the techniques of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is Reframing. Successful people are able to use this technique to their benefit. For example, instead of saying “Everyone is judgemental of me!” you may reframe it as “Can I find constructive criticism in this and apply it to perform even better?” Another example could be someone who has lost a terminally-ill loved one. Instead of having a bitter experience, they may be able to say something more positive such as “At least they are free of their pain now”. It doesn’t mean the person is not grieving – only that they are slowly changing the meaning they attach to the event that has just occurred. 

Replace this

With this

“I lost my job! This is going to ruin my career.”

“Can I now use my time and energy to focus on my passion of starting my own business?”

“Everyone was so judgmental of me today!”

“Can I find constructive criticism in their feedback from today’s meeting?”

“This is hard!”

“How can I make this easier and fun?”

“Exercise is impossible for me!”

“How can I create more time and opportunity for exercise in my routine?”

How to Use Reframing

This is the key to living a fuller, happier life in the face of change. Attaching positive meanings to what would otherwise be considered turmoil in your life will enable you to cope with change in a much better and effective manner.

 Let’s face it: Life will always throw challenges your way. You can either keep running away from change or stop the pain right now by finding what’s better and re-aligning the meaning of the event in an effective way.

 That said, humans also love drama. I know a friend who used to move furniture from one room to another just for the sake of it. She was a stay-at-home mum at that time and lacked variety in life. To create spice, she moved heavy furniture in her house which held her husband by surprise when he returned home in the evenings!

 Why did I quote my friend’s example? Simply because this could be you. In truth, you may be taking completely normal situations in your life and creating doom and gloom outcomes in your mind. In essence, you may be magnifying the “pain” from even a slight change. Take a doting mother as another example. Most moms will be happy to see their kids leave home and create a life of their own. However, the doting mother is unhappy of this change because she has magnified the event in her mind’s eye to mean the end of her relationship with her kids. Rather, she should reframe this and create a new formula such as “My kids have an amazing life ahead of them. I am proud of them and myself too. They will always love me no matter where they go!”

 See the difference? The latter has a healthy attitude of non-clinginess and love.

 What’s one change in your life that’s taking most of your attention right now by causing pain? How can you turn this around?

Pooja Lohana is a Human Behavioural Specialist working with clients who are stuck at a fork in the road whether it be in the area of career, relationships or life itself. She conducts one-on-one breakthrough sessions and workshops in Melbourne. To learn more about Pooja, please visit her here.