Small Business MentorS        d

Transforming and leading people into restored, productive, and prosperous lives



Coping With Change

How's your spare change?  I'm not talking about the coins in your pocket or your purse.  I'm talking about the change that is going on all around us.  Do you have any change to spare?

If you're like most of us, you do.  You probably have more change happening than you are comfortable with.  In fact, because most change makes us uncomfortable, you probably have a LOT more change than you are comfortable with.

Usually, the first question people think of/ask when we talk about change is "what can I do to have less change?"  If you are alive, change is occurring.  So an effective answer is not about stopping change, but learning to cope with it.

The good news is there are some things you can do to manage change and help you control it better.  And make no mistake… the key to coping with change is to feel like you have gained some measure of control over the change. 

(We humans are funny that way.  We are wired to need to control our environment and make it as stable as we can… including those off-the-wall variables around us -- other people.  At the same time, we sure don't want those other people minimizing our freedom of action and choice.  Talk about a built-in stress generator.)

In change, as in everything, there is a beginning, a middle, and an ending.  Except that with change, we encounter it backwards… ending, middle (called transition) and beginning.

When something changes, whatever the status quo is… ends.  So, if my employment status changes, there is an ending.  Maybe my status changes from employed to unemployed.  That ends my employment.  That is definitely an ending.  And it is scary to most people.

But my status could also change from unemployed to employed.  That changes the status quo and my unemployment ends.  (That is also a scary thing to many people because the unknown is still ahead.)

So I have an ending thrust upon me (which I had no control over… and while I used unemployment/employment as an example, I have seen people stress out over a simple change in dinner plans.)  The size of the actual change is less important than the attachment we had to the status quo.

We are wired to need to control our environment and make it as stable as we can…

After ending comes the middle… where we are transitioning to the new beginnings.  This transition period can be short or it can be long.  The larger the change for us… the stronger our reaction to the ending… the longer we will be in the transition state.  Unless we apply our coping skills and intentionally speed it up.

This transition state is even more uncomfortable than the ending was.  …Especially since we may be having to deal with grief from the loss we felt by the status quo ending.  We often feel lost in this stage… and we don't like it. 

We are quite likely to moan and complain in this stage.  We will also do what we can to try to resist the change or to sabotage it if we can.  This is our attempt to exert control over the forces that brought about the change.  Most of the time, these efforts are futile. (If you weren't in control enough to stop the change from happening at the beginning, you aren't likely to have enough to reverse it.)

Finally, we pass through the middle and come to the beginning.  This is the beginning (for us) of accepting the change, and finding ways to make it work to our benefit.  By working with it rather than against it, we begin to exert control over it (as least as it touches our lives).  As we come to work with the change and establish it in our lives, we establish a new status quo.

Remember, we like the status quo, it makes us feel comfortable.  And having established a status quo, we are ripe for a new round of endings, middles, and beginnings.   Don't become disheartened, however, sometimes the status quo can last for years… so you have some areas of your life that are stable.

Earlier, in talking about the middle period, I mentioned applying our coping skills to speed up the time in transition.  What are those skills? 

I like to call them the ABCs of coping with change.

A - Acknowledge and honor your endings.

B - Begin to explore the possibilities in the transition state....

C - Commit to the change and begin to regain control.

A - Acknowledge and honor your endings.

As we saw, when a change happens, something is left behind... lost.  Something has ended.  This can result in denial, resistance, or it can even trigger the grief process.  To help with this, acknowledge that something is left behind.  That something undoubtedly had good qualities to it.  Recognize those good qualities and honor them.

Also, acknowledge that the old has ended… whether you wanted it to or not.  Allow it to rest in peace.

Which leads us to the chaos of the transition state....

B - Begin to explore the possibilities in the transition state....

To effectively cope with this discomfort of a loss of control and the chaos of the transition state, we have to (paradoxically) become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

One aid in this is to use the things you carry forward from the endings (the things you honored) as an anchor during the chaotic times.  Another is to accept that you will have good days and bad days as you transition to coping with the change.  Those bad days are temporary... they will pass.

Use the turmoil that comes with the transition inherent in change to spark your creativity.

Start to seek out the ways that this change can benefit you... and/or your team. As you do this, you begin to create options for yourself.  Seeing options is the first step in the process of regaining control.

C - Commit to the change and begin to regain control.

Review the options you found in the transition state and pick what seems to be the best plan.  Now commit to it. 

As you commit to the decision, you will find inner and outer resources crystallize to assist you in your plan.  Commitment returns a sense of control to you.

You have now begun to proactively deal with the change and how you can use it.  You are back in control of your life.  (Or as much control as any of us ever have.)

Note:  Resilience and adaptability are the most important factors in successfully managing change.

Action Step:

Pick one change that is happening to you.  Identify where you are in the process.  Apply the ABCs to that one change.  When you have completed the process, review how it worked for you.

Still feeling overwhelmed with the change?  It may be the emotions from past events are still too strong.  So how do you deal with that?

One way is through EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). It is a tapping technique that neutralizes negative emotions.  It is powerful enough to be successful working with veterans and others who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — such as victims from earthquakes and other natural disasters.

It is also simple enough to be used with children... even young children.

Learning the basics of EFT is simple and quick... and free.  However, some people are reluctant to tap on themselves or on their children.  For those people, help is here.

Tappy Bear is the perfect aid for learning and using EFT — especially with children.  Tappy was created specifically to help children use EFT... by tapping on Tappy.  All the points they need to know are on Tappy.  And Tappy is an incredibly warm and comforting Teddy Bear.

But Tappy isn't just for children... even though he was created for children.  I know adults who love Tappy and use him for themselves.  (I have a Tappy Bear and use him in my practice with clients.)

Learn more about Tappy Bear and find out how you can use him, too, on your negative emotions (or with your children.)




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