“I’d love to go back to when we played as kids but things changed, and that’s the way it is” – Tupac Shakur
Many children get to be free and ignorant of life’s challenges. While going to school everyday and playing with your friends you don’t stop and notice how quickly life changes. Our younger and more innocent selves don’t have to pay attention to how much is actually happening on a regular basis. Then we suddenly grow up and realize change is inevitable. Some people are overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of change and others are excited with anticipation over the unknown. Or you might be one of those people who allow yourself to experience both the excitement and anxiety simultaneously.
There’s no right or wrong way to manage the unknown. After all, how do you manage something you can’t fully anticipate? There are changes we have played a part in creating such as shifting careers, getting married, or moving to a new city. These shifts in our lives are scary even though we’ve put conscious thought into making the decisions that create the change. If the change has been planned first allow yourself to feel stressed and anxious if those feelings come up for you. Next, remind yourself why you wanted it to happen and what you anticipate gaining from this new way of life. Too often people forget to acknowledge the difficulty of life changes if they fit into the good and exciting category. People will easily remind you that these are things you want so you should be happy. While this is of course true, it is also true that positive life changes come with challenges and stress. Even “exciting” changes call for sensitivity from others. Ask others to join you in celebrating as well as being understanding and patient about the stress around these events.
There are other changes that sometimes sneak up on us such as being laid off, a loved one suddenly passing away, or experiencing a serious health problem. These unexpected changes are often visibly upsetting and may garner more sympathy and support from other people in our lives. Changes like these examples feel negative and troubling. The key to getting through the struggle is to allow yourself time to process what is happening. The surprise and shock needs to settle in before you can manage how life will become different. Then think about what can be done to make the change feel easier. Ask for support from friends and family. When possible find ways to de-stress and manage your feelings. Examples include exercising, yoga, cooking, hanging out with friends, or joining a support group.
Since we know not all changes can be planned or expected start thinking now about the concept of change. Try to accept that you won’t always have control over what happens or how things in life happen. Change will occur but things will also find a way to be okay.