It’s been said , change is inevitable, except from a vending machine. That inevitable change has an uncanny way of sneaking up and pouncing on you when you least expect it. I’ve experienced a few of those sneak attacks over the past few years. Too many, in my opinion. One just happened this week which really gave me pause. What is it about change? There are times we yearn for a change in our lives, whether it involves a job, spicing up our daily routine, a change of scenery, etc. Then there’s change that is out of our control which can rock our foundation. We are usually caught unawares when those kind of changes occur.
What makes change so difficult? There is actually a neuroscience reason that accounts for a good part of it. Neuroscientist Jeffrey Schwartz: “At the level of individual neurons, brains are built to detect changes in the environment and send out strong signals to alert us to anything unusual. Error detection signals are generated by a part of the brain called the orbital cortex (it’s located right over the eyeballs, which is very closely connected to the brain’s fear circuitry in a structure called the amygdala. These two areas compete with and direct brain resources away from the prefrontal region, which is known to promote and support higher intellectual functions. This pushes us to act more emotionally and more impulsively.”
Knowing my brain is not a fan of change is curiously comforting. Knowing there’s a valid reason for being wary of change, tells me I’m not a total neurotic. This still begs the question, what are ways to best deal with change? There is no one size fits all. Each of us deals with challenges in our own unique way. Each of us has particular coping mechanisms that work for us. Here are some things I’ve found helpful:
Build a support team of family, good friends
Adopt a mindset that will allow acceptance that things can be different and we will be okay
Keep things simple and don’t expect too much too fast.
Go easy. Trying to force our way through the change can be more harmful than helpful.
Incorporate happiness boosters – a movie, gardening, working out, shopping –whatever appeals to you.
Finally, self-compassion is uber important. We need to treat ourselves with the same caring and kindness we would a loved one. I find this quote by Kristin Neff, the leading authority on self-compassion, particularly meaningful:
“This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.”
Comments are welcomed.