"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."
Change is unavoidable in life, for better or worse. Of course, it can be difficult, disruptive, and downright frightening at times. There are, however, many advantages of being able to adapt to change, chief among them the ability to grow and learn in new situations, and from there, discover new ways to be happier, healthier, and have better relationships in your life. When you can open yourself up to new experiences, you set yourself up for a more rewarding life. Embracing change is one of the hardest things we can do, but it pays off in some incredible ways.
Change is a catalyst for growth. When we are out of our comfort zone, we experience the most growth and learning, gaining new skills we will use for the rest of our lives. Oftentimes, people fear change because of the uncertainty it brings, but if you can reframe that from a place of fear to a place of opportunity, you may be surprised about how much you can achieve when you feel less comfortable. That change of attitude sets you up for a wealth of new possibilities in your life.
A flexible, or growth, mindset is the key to adapting to change. When you’re more flexible in your thinking, you can look at problems and setbacks from a different vantage point, seeing solutions where some would only see barriers. In order to cultivate that mindset, there are a few things you can try. Journaling can be a difficult process, but it also can reveal where your defenses lie, and help you challenge them and understand why they are there. Additionally, focusing on effort instead of static characteristics helps move away from all-or-nothing thinking. For example, thinking “I really gave it my all” rather than “I’m so smart” shifts your thinking away from binary traits to something more changeable. When we get stuck in that all-or-nothing thinking, there is no room for growth since you either are or aren’t, with no middle ground.
Sometimes you choose change; taking a training course, attending a new book club, walking a different route in your neighbourhood. Other times, like being let go from your job, change chooses you. Obviously those circumstances come with their own challenges, and reframing them into a positive can be difficult, but not impossible. This is where having a solid support network is critical. If you find yourself getting stuck in a hard situation, it can be helpful getting a different viewpoint from someone else in your life like a trusted friend, family member, or counsellor. You might be surprised with what they have to say.
From a distance, all change looks scary, whether it is in your workplace or your personal life. That blank space ahead of you, the uncertainty and fear that go with it, they can be overwhelming. However, if you zoom in and get a little closer to it, you may see room for hope, positivity, and even growth. By challenging your defense mechanisms, reframing the negative to positive, and enlisting some different viewpoints from others in your life, you can embrace change, both big and small, and grow with it. If you feel you could use some help, remember that Walmsley can connect you confidentially with a counsellor. Connect with us at www.walmsley.ca or 1-800-481-5511.
Robert Baker, MA RCC