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Rolling With the Change

As the seasons change, so do our lives. The day I am writing this, I noticed the temperature was a bit cooler than the day before and more leaves had fallen off the trees overnight. The weather that greeted me this morning reminds me that there’s more change to come. Winter is coming and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. For me, Spring is my favorite season because it reminds me that Summer is on its way. (Summer is my real favorite season).

Our lives experience change too. Sometimes the changes are subtle and other times they are more abrupt and immediate. What I mean is that you could be going about your daily routine and at some point something interrupts, something changes. If you are more inclined toward going with the flow, these interruptions don’t phase you. If you are more the kind of person who likes sticking to a routine, the unexpected changes could cause havoc in your day. Think about the implications. More than one person today got a case of road rage because something or someone broke into their routine to disrupt. More than one student today had unforeseen circumstances get in the way of an assignment. More than one person had to change their schedule to accommodate the unexpected. More than one employee got upset today at a new policy decision recently announced.

Mark Twain once said, “The only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper.” That may be an overstatement, but he got his point across. There has to be a perspective that helps us make sense of the changes we are facing. It could be a short-term perspective - knowing that the interruption is just that, an interruption. It could be a longer-term perspective - knowing that as Fall gives way to Winter, Spring is on the horizon next. It could be a perspective of scope. Is the change really consequential in the big picture?

How we handle changes that come our way is something we can - (dare I say it?) - change. We can change how we handle change. Momentary troubles don’t have to ruin our day. Sometimes the simplest way we can take the change head on is to take a breath. Breathe in. If that doesn’t work, exhale and breathe in again. For the moment, focus on your breath instead of the unexpected. Practicing a mindful approach may help us process the change a little differently. Taking just a moment to pause and breathe can give you a chance to gain fresh perspective.

Next, is there an alternative way to think about what just happened? Part of the problem with change is that we each have a typical way of responding to the changes that hit us out of the blue. Can we think of an alternative way of putting it in perspective? Maybe getting more information can help you rethink the context and the perspective. Most likely, all is not lost because of this change. If you can introduce a reasonable doubt to what you normally think about change, it might give your mind a chance to regroup and tackle the change with courage and grace.

If the way you handle change is not working for you or causing problems in other areas, consider getting an outside perspective. Those who are closest to you can probably give you a clue whether it’s problematic or not. In some cases, you may even want to consider getting some counseling to build your skills related to flexibility.

One thing is certain. Life will bring interruptions and you will experience changes whether you desire them or not. The way you respond to these will be important. It can make the difference for the rest of your day and could make a difference for others in your life. Changing how you roll with change could help you actually enjoy the season.

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