Coping with Change

Written by Dr. Bruce Gordon

changeIt’s been said that the only constant in our world today is change. As we look back over our marriage to this point, we would have to agree.

We have faced our fair share of uncertainty, surprises and transitions. In a period of just eight years, we experienced:

  • A move into our dream home, which Denise had designed
  • The loss of this home, along with a business
  • Three forced changes of careers
  • A move away from our family and friends in Northern Ontario to Toronto then to Vancouver
  • The loss of Denise’s father to leukemia in 6 weeks

The words “imposed change” were part of the fabric of our life, and on the stress scale, we should not have made it as a couple.

Coping with change is never easy. Most of us resist it, because we are comfortable and secure in our world as we know it. And yet, if change is an inevitable reality of life (and it is), then we’d better be prepared to respond when the unexpected comes knocking on our door.

We’d like to share with you some principles for dealing with change, which we developed as we moved through these experiences. Because change comes in countless different forms, every situation is unique. Nevertheless, these lessons will be helpful for you to keep in mind and adapt to whatever circumstances you may face.

1. Recognize that you are in change

As we have said, most of us have a natural aversion to change. We have a tendency to want to stick our heads in the sand and hope that it will go away by the time we come up for air.

This strategy may provide short-term relief, but it never helps in the long-run. Denial does not make our problems disappear; instead it usually makes things worse by giving us less time to think through a reasoned response. Instead, when unexpected circumstances arise, it is best to face them head on.

2. Honestly face your fears

Not every person has the same tolerance to risk. Some adventurous souls actually relish the adventure of new situations. Others like their life exactly as it is: nice and predictable. For these people, the idea of change produces fear. We recommend developing an accountability relationship with another person. An accountability partner can give you the encouragement you need to press on.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

John Kotter, Management Consultant and Author, writes that one error leaders make during times of change is that they underestimate the issue of communication by a factor of 10. Certainly the same is true of couples. In order to successfully navigate change as a couple, it is vital that you be on the same page with one another. You need to know how your spouse feels about the impending transition. You also need one another’s wisdom and ideas as you explore all of your options.

If you are approaching a major change in your life, set aside a special date night to talk through the issues with your spouse. Coping with change is difficult enough when we are united; it is much harder when we are pulling in different directions.

4. Take stock of your resources

Anytime unforeseen circumstances arise, a key step is to evaluate the resources you have at your disposal as you deal with the issue. Depending on the specific situation you are facing, your relevant resources could include finances, time, skills, or even other people in your life that can help you through the adjustment.

At times, change might require you to make some tough decisions, like perhaps re-working your budget. For us, it meant the sale of our dream home, to pay off debt. You may need to seek some outside counsel from someone on this.

5. Anticipate stress

Change is rarely easy; it is often a source of great stress. To make matters worse, you and your spouse may deal with it completely differently. We would suggest that both of you obtain an assessment on your individual styles and how you each handle stress. This will help you to understand one another’s stress reactions and will enable you to work together more effectively.

Times of intense pressure can either pull you together or push you apart. Stress will come, and you need to ensure that it does not divide and conquer.

Take the next step:

Video: Letting go of stress
Take a lesson: How to handle stress
10 Ways to reduce stress

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8 Responses to “Coping with Change”

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    good article i am dealing with change now its not easy coping with changen but with God its still not easy but i am glad i have God in my life and have other christians to pray with too abd christian music to listen to

  • Robert O. Reid says:

    I appreciate the in-sight that was provided in this article.

  • Kostas says:

    @Gemma It is normal to feel anxiety about the change. When we don’t know what’s ahead in the future we begin to worry sometimes. But I want to encourage you. You can have one friend who knows your thoughts, your fears, your worries and He can give perfect peace. His name is Jesus Christ and he is a TRUE HEALER, a real friend. If you haven’t done it so far ask Jesus in your life to come. Then you will be in His hands that are full of mercy and love. If you feel this way please use this prayer: Dear God, i believe that Jesus Christ is your only son that came to earth to die at the cross for my sins. I believe that as you had promised you raised Him from the dead. Dear Jesus please come to my life as my Lord, saviour, healer and friend. I invite you in. Thank you that you heard my prayer and you have forgiven all my sins, made me a new person, gave me a new heart, as the Bible tells.

    Also my friend i encourage you to talk with a mentor from this website to guide you and help you further. Sincerely with love, Kostas

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Gemma, what is it about change that makes you anxious? How do you find relief from that anxiety?

    PS Don’t worry :) about writing a long comment. You should see how long some of my comments are!

  • Gemma says:

    Hi, i find change very hard, when i have a change in my life it usually throws me in to a bout of anxiety. That is why i avoided quitting smoking for ao while, i have just managed to quit and feel great, but i am about to train as a reiki healer and i am scared the change will cause me anxiety, my anxiety attacks are very detrimental, i have a young daughter and want to be strong, this article was interesting, thank you, sorry for the long reply.

  • cfast cfast says:

    Damien, would you like to speak to one of our mentors? It is free and private. If you are interested, please visit http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/ and a mentor will respond to you within 2-3 business days.

  • Damien Zoric says:

    Hello I have ongoing circumstances and are absoultly smashing my head. I drrink and smoke but circumstances hve been with me all my life. I see here on this web page that you might be able to help. Damien.

  • Princess Basma says:

    Believe in what u do.. change is there for u not to hurt u, it is there to upgrade ur consciousness and knowledge.. yes, there is a lot of pain in the process but it is so fruitful… dont resist it.. just go with the flow! let it happen and try to learn from it and understand the hidden lessons… u cant develop without change.. if u stayed stagnant, then u r not a really developed human being..

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