Friday, March 15, 2013

Seven Tips for Handling Massive Change

by Sarah Davis

The more terrifying positive changes are, the more rewarding they will be in the end. Even so, you’re never prepared for how surreal, difficult, emotional, strangely satisfying, and as previously mentioned before, terrifying, they are.

Most of us want change.  We think about it, we dream about it, we see counselors for it.  We beg the Universe to change it up...and we usually think about BIG changes.  Then, one day, your life changes and you realize that a BIG change is hard.  Remember how surreal it was to go from middle school to high school? Or high school to college? Or college to...the real world? Life is full of “next levels.”

It is a new territory that you know nothing about and while you wanted this change, the old you has to tiptoe through this new path and discover how to get used to this change moment by moment. Forget day by day, big changes require you to learn new things moment by moment. Luckily, it’s just as terrifying for EVERYONE. So, while it feels incredibly different (like you are a fish who is trying to learn how to survive on land), we all go through this. While it may be a different situation from one person to the next, coping with change is the same for everyone-- terrifying, hard and somehow incredibly satisfying. Here are seven tips to feel more comfortable during this turbulent and scary time of your life...

1. Do as much as you can every day, but know when you’ve hit your limit.  Lately, my plate is so full with change and with the same old things that I have to watch how overwhelmed I get.  Usually, when I get up in the morning, I feel refreshed, rested, and inspired.  However, throughout the day and as more and more reminders of how many full plates I have pop up, I begin to stress myself out with worry.  At a certain time of the day, usually right before bed, I have to tell myself to turn off the thoughts of worry (and the lights) and get some rest, because I probably need it.  By taking it “one day at a time”, I can focus only on what the day brings, and then get rest.  Then, the next day, repeat the process.

2. Talk about the changes with people you know you can trust & who have been through the same changes.  I think this one is the most important thing you can do when you’re dealing with a lot of change, because hearing that other people have been through what you’re going through AND can offer you gentle, reassuring advice is very soothing.  Throughout my experience in life, there are plenty of people who are more than willing to scare the shit out of you by offering you unnecessary and insane advice which will not help you at all.  If you are a woman, you know that catty women seem to be the culprits of this one- they love to create drama and gossip, so if they get you terrified and you open up, they will have some juicy gossip about you.  Listen to me when I say, it’s totally okay to stay away from people, or shall we say maniacs, who you know are going to cause you stress.  Talk to people who won’t judge you or scare you, only listen to you, comfort you, and give you inspiration.  

3. Stop worrying about what other people think about you.  You’re a human, I’m a human, we’re all just humans.  We are all making mistakes and we’ve all done something embarrassing.  The sooner you get over it, the sooner you’ll feel more comfortable and stop judging yourself so harshly for not getting it right the first time during this time of change, a time that as we’ve mentioned, you know nothing about to begin with.  

4. Give up on beating yourself up.  As we just talked about, change is a time when you are bound to fumble around.  But, this is not the time to beat yourself up.  Seriously, if there is any little treat you can give yourself during this time it is this: never beat yourself up.  When you’re handling each moment that comes up, do it the best you can (and by “best”, I mean the best that you think you can do, not how well you saw someone else do it.) If you have to approach something a little more gentler, or take extra time to do something because it seems like it’s more than you can handle at the minute, trust your instincts, and do it how you feel you should you do it. You might not understand this new time very well, but you do understand yourself, so use that to your advantage. These times of massive change are truly the times when you should be most gentle on yourself (and likewise, gentle on people who are going through situations similar to yours.)

Big changes also bring up emotions-- so let them flow. I often feel sad that my old life is gone during times of change, even if all I did was beg for my life to change at the time, but I have to tell myself it is okay to feel like this. Everything you feel is normal and everyone else feels the same way, even if they try to act like they can handle change better than Jesus Christ would.  

5. If you are at a point when you know you need help, don’t question it.  This is pretty self-explanatory.  If you are lying on the floor in pain and you think that an ER sounds like a cozy bed, you probably need to go.  On a similar note, if you need to get help because you are struggling, get your ass to wherever you need to go. If this means that if you need to put yourself first and take a day off of work or take a pay-cut, or crawl to your parents, you better do it. It doesn’t look stupid to ask for help, it looks stupid to suffer when help is available.

6. Do not bring negative emotions from past overwhelming situations into what you're going through now. Sometimes when life bombards us with change, we have the option to embrace fear. Fear isn't just about the future, it also contains negative ghosts of emotion that creep back into our lives, even if we think they're gone, when we are feeling vulnerable. When we let fear control us, we think we should remember how we felt about other, completely different, yet equally overwhelming times from our past that ended negatively. Maybe we felt really bad back then about how a situation went down, so we think maybe we should be feeling bad now. Or, maybe we should be feeling guilty for how we dealt with something back then. 

However, if there is any theme of "massive change", it's that this is BRAND NEW time. It's okay to be scared during this time and it's okay to remember times when things didn't work out, but it's not good to judge this new chapter of your life based on these fear-produced negative memories. There is healthy fear that keeps us on the right track and then there is unhealthy fear that does nothing but set us back. Give yourself a break! Your life is meant to be full of miracles, not a funeral for your failures, right smack-dab in the middle of change you've prayed for. Give yourself a fair chance at all of this change, without negative emotions that don't mean anything, creeping into the picture. Shake these creepy ghosts off easily, because they aren't real. What is real, is all of this crazy change you're going through, so focus on that!

7. Journal. Nothing is more soothing than writing down exactly what you're going through. For me, writing things down gets them out of my head and I can see them more clearly. I feel calmer after listing out things that scare me about a situation or how I am feeling when I am going through change.

TIP: Don't worry if you are going through major life changes-- this means big positive things are coming your way. These will be changes that you will be so proud of yourself for sucking it up and making them happen. All of the terror and fumbling around will one day be a fond memory.

Image via Indulgy


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