“Launch the IRB!”
The lifeguard shouted to launch the Inflatable Rescue Boat as he spotted the surfer hold up his hand one last time. Even with increased adrenalin pumping through his body, his struggle and fight against the current had used all the surfer’s energy.
Fighting and struggling against a current is a waste of energy
Like the sun, rain, and wind, the sea is a force of nature. You can’t resist its currents and waves, and you can’t fight them. Experienced surfers learn to surf the waves and flow with the currents.
Flow with life changes in the same way!
Take a pointer from your own body. Every cell in your body is in a constant state of change. Some cells die and get replaced every few minutes. The oldest cell in your body will have only just blown out the candles on its seventh birthday cake!
As an individual, made up of these cells, all you are is a whirl of change!
Study nature to see how life works
Everything is growing or dying or growing and dying. Glance around you. You’ll notice trees in the spring, growing fresh shoots and branches. Last year’s blossom and leaves wither and die, becoming compost for next year’s growth.
Nothing struggles against these changes
You don’t see trees struggling to grow new branches or bulbs struggling to turn into fragrant plants. It all just happens easily and naturally. In the same way, animals and birds don’t struggle. They live entirely in the now and go with the flow of life.
“Always remember that each day, as you look at your world and see millions upon millions of flowers opening up, God does it all without using any force.” Dr Wayne W. Dyer
It seems struggle is a uniquely human characteristic
Clearly, change is a natural part of growth and evolution. People have to change and develop if they’re to survive and prosper.
If you had a baby girl who didn’t grow or develop, you would be at the doctor’s office immediately, demanding tests to find out what was wrong.
Yet, as we move through life, change might become more worrying, simply because we become ‘set in our ways’ — like concrete! We might lose the flexibility to ‘go with the flow’ that young children experience. Work, family, money, housing, etc become more important considerations that we want to control. But control often involves resisting change.
And resisting change is one of the biggest causes of anxiety and struggle
As well as being contrary to nature, struggle reduces your ability to bounce back from hardships and, therefore, affects your resilience.
Your mental attitude to change influences how well you deal with it
When you realise change is inevitable and welcome it, rather than trying to avoid it, you’ll be in a better position to take advantage of those adjustments, as well as save yourself a lot of anxiety.
If it seems like everything is constantly changing — it is!
The rate of change is speeding up. I doubt very much that the speed of change is going to slow. Get used to it and build your resilience so you can cope with it more easily, or even enjoy it.
Not all change is favourable
Many changes aren’t acceptable — for people or for the environment in which they live or work. These are usually man-made changes and you may have excellent reasons for not wanting imposed changes. But struggling and fighting against those changes is like struggling against a current. You just get exhausted and stressed.
Go with the flow, without compromising your own values
What I mean by going with the flow is that if you educate yourself on any proposed changes and how they will affect you, you may bring a positive influence to bear. Try to understand the reasoning and the desired outcomes of any proposed change.
By understanding the goal, you could investigate other logical and/or creative alternative processes that will achieve the same outcome. Describe what you think the effects of the changes will be, or what repercussions you foresee. It’s easier to do this if you can stay calm; and much easier for people to listen to someone who isn’t belligerent.
It’s hard to stay calm if you’re stressed
Stress reduces your ability to cope; your mind becomes flooded with harmful chemicals, which lower your reasoning capacity. Notice how it’s always the placid, steady people others listen to and follow when a disaster occurs.
In stressful situations, no one suggests getting behind the panicky, stressed-out person. No one wants a panicky, stressed-out leader because it’s clear that they’re not in a position to think straight — let alone make quality decisions or lead others meaningfully.
Aim for a balanced state
That said, it’s essential to maintain a healthy state of mind and body, regardless of what changes are going on in your life. Activities such as meditation, regular exercise, positive thinking, and balanced, rhythmical deep breathing, all reduce anxiety levels and help you cope with changes.
Give yourself a comfort zone
If you find change tough to cope with, make sure that some areas of your life have an element of stability. Having a comfort zone in which you feel safe — and, well — comfortable enables you to be more adventurous and to welcome change in other areas. For example, it’s easier to accept changes at work if you have a stable home life.
By thinking slightly differently, you’ll stop struggling and fighting against the tides and currents of change. Going with the flow will save you stress and conserve your energy so you can keep your head above water. And with your head above water, you can breathe, relax and seek other ways to move forward.
Key points to remember:
- Change is a natural part of everyday life — look around you for evidence!
- Change enables growth and development.
- Not all change is beneficial — go with the flow to find better alternatives.
- Find a sense of stability (comfort zone) in one part of your life that will make it easier to cope with and manage change in more turbulent areas.
- Equip yourself with the right tools and mindset to cope with change, so you can stop struggling.
Struggling with change, or stuck in a rut?
Try SHIFT coaching to build your resilience and address what’s holding you back.
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