ICYMI, this month is our Change Issue — where we celebrate the good, the bad, and the inevitable when it comes to transformation. With only less than two months left in 2020, we can't help but look at the year that has passed with a contemplative eye, propelled to harness the power of change that comes with new beginnings in the new year. But we're sure many can relate that change — be it big or small, expected or unexpected — can be rather daunting. Why do we feel this way?
Fuelling the FIRE and losing control
New York Times bestselling author and career expert Mark Murphy said that people absorb information based on the FIRE model. It starts with getting the Facts, then comes Interpretation, followed by Reactions, and caps off with Ends. The second up to the last stage is often mediated by our own experiences, values and beliefs, which sets how we eventually take in the details of how things are presented at face value.
Given the many possible scenarios as to how each of us reacts to specific circumstances, a solid endgame is hard to picture, which results in more room for anxiety or uncertainty to avert from what’s considered as the status quo.
On top of not knowing the possible outcome of the change we’re about to experience is the idea of losing control over the things and processes that we’re already familiar with. Whether it be in the form of increased workload, confusion over the things we’re supposed to adjust to or even just having to work with new people, not having enough information to make us feel at ease is enough to spiral us into fear and uncertainty.
Change is inescapable
When people enter a room or a building, our natural instinct is to take note of the nearest exit out. If you’re extra cautious, you might even be the type to stay close to the exit so that it’s easier to get out should the situation call for it. This is because our instinct to survive is always intact even in the most mundane situations. This also applies to the way we confront the idea of change.
Since there’s no actual exit sign for the changes in our lives, we tend to go into fight-or-flight mode just thinking about it. However, in contrast to a tangible situation where there are foreseeable escape routes, change and its erratic nature can make it so hard to predict, leaving us at a loss as to how we can approach it.
How to deal with change
We now know that being fearful of change is human nature, but there are things that we can do to deal with it.
One, think back on the latest moment of change you had to overcome. Embracing the familiarity of how we dealt with that moment helps us piece together what worked and what didn’t and will lead us to be more well-equipped as we navigate through such situations again. If it helps, write down scenarios that are similar to the current one you’re facing and take note of how you dealt with each of them. Chances are you’ll find an effective pattern.
Two, find a thing (or a person) that will be your anchor when change becomes too overwhelming. Finding a presence that will remain constant in a whirlwind of shifts — it can be a hobby, a significant other or even a part of your usual routine — helps you stay grounded and in control. Use this anchor to calm down when things become too emotionally, mentally and physically draining.
Lastly, acknowledge that fear of change is totally normal and that it’s okay to feel uncertain when something unavoidable comes along. Recognising your feelings rebuts the notion that change is something that we don’t and can’t totally understand. Therefore, it allows us to treat it more like a familiar problem rather than as uncharted territory.
Change is constant, that's a fact. Remember that how well you interpret, react, and arrive at your endgame is completely up to your jurisdiction — and that, you can control.
Stressed about navigating through life's changes? Here's the right self-care activity for you!
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