How to Embrace Change

Learn to go with the flow with these five steps.

Embrace change like this butterfly.

(Erika Salcmannova / Shutterstock.com)

Change is like a river: nothing stays the same, even for an instant. Rather than resist the current, go with the flow. You may not know what’s around the bend. But, when you learn how to embrace change, you’ll find that the uncertainty of life feels a little less scary. Life becomes an unexpected adventure, full of unimaginable joy and surprises. Try these methods to release the fear of the unknown and embrace change.

Acceptance
The struggle to embrace change often comes from denial of it in the first place. Many people cling to the comfort of their lives and avoid change at all costs. Then a major change happens, and it feels unexpected, upsetting, sometimes catastrophic. You may panic, grasp tightly to what you have, and fight against the current of change. This resistance just makes the process more stressful. 

The simple act of acceptance can neutralize a lot of those painful reactions. When you know and accept change as a part of life, you will feel more comfortable with it. You come from a place of flexibility, rather than attachment. You allow transition and learn to go with the flow. 

React Versus Respond
One way to embrace change is to move away from a place of reaction to a place of response. You can’t change what happens, but you can change how you respond. According to Psychology Today, this reaction is instinctual, often resulting from survival thinking or defense mechanisms, developed when you were younger. When you react, your unconscious mind is running the show. You do things without thinking.

But when you respond, you take a step back. You observe the thoughts that come up. You try to understand the why of your reaction without letting your emotions run wild. Then you can slowly temper your strong reactions to change, to a more moderate, relaxed response.

Pracrice Mindfulness
Mindfulness means to bring your awareness fully to the present moment. The practice comes from Eastern spiritual traditions, like Buddhism, and is gaining a lot of attention among psychologists in the West today.

When you think about it, much of the suffering associated with change involves two things. You either feel emotional about events of the past, or you worry about the outcomes of the future. That’s a lot to process! You can really simplify your experience when you just focus on the “now”. 

When a change comes your way, take a moment. Breathe. Pause. Notice the emotions and thoughts that come up. If you need to cry, then let it out. If you feel angry, shout, dance, or go for a run. Allow yourself to feel and release the emotions inside.

It will probably feel challenging at first. But with practice, mindfulness helps you feel more at ease. You cling a little less to the past and the future. Ultimately, you shift the focus to appreciate all that you have at the present moment.

Nuture Optimism
Optimists tend to see setbacks as temporary, rather than permanent according to Psychology Today. Optimists tend to take responsibility for their lives, rather than blaming others. They tend to interpret situations, and people’s behaviors, in the best possible light. As a result, they experience better health outcomes and more resilience against adversity.

Optimism doesn’t mean taking a blind eye to the realities of the world. If anything, it accepts the bigger picture. Yes, bad things happen. But guess what, good things happen every day, too.

Look at optimism as something you can nurture in yourself. Remind yourself: it’s not that bad all the time! You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But you have a choice: You can feel fearful about tomorrow, or excited. And your outlook can have a major impact on what happens. 

Let Go of What You Can't Control
Guess what: You can’t control everything in life. As much as you prepare and plan, some things still won’t go your way. So why keep expecting them to? Life is a learning experience, and you’ll grow as you go

When life feels out of control, take a step back, give yourself a dose of realism.  Is some of this situation your own doing? You don’t need to beat yourself up, but you may need to take responsibility and make better choices

Are you getting enough rest? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you sticking to your budget? Are you present in your work or family life? Those are things you can control. You can only do your best. When the unexpected throws you off balance, learn to ask for help. You are not in this alone!  

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