It may sound a bit paradoxical, but one of the most constant parts of our lives is change. May it be big or small, private or business-based, good or bad, we can’t escape change. Some people would like to escape it, of course, and try to live their lives as steady and controlled as possible. Others, however, grab all changes and ride them like a surfer the perfect wave. They see them as chances, as great and valuable opportunities, and are open to any aspect the transformation offers them. Put short: They are managing changes, and they don’t let the changes manage them.
I, for my part, am rather skeptical when it first comes to changes. To be honest: I really don’t like changes. That may be surprising when one considers that I took chances twice and jumped into the cold water, first when I moved to another city within Germany and then when I re-located my entire existence to Romania. And still, changes disturb me, because they throw you out of a liked, well-practiced and much appreciated orbit around a certain aspect of life.
Do I know this is a comfortable mind-set that keeps me from realizing many good prospects of life? Oh, sure. Have I sometimes wondered what enables others to swipe any fear and comfort aside and grab the famous “bull by the horns”? Of course. And have I asked myself how skeptical and fearful people (like me) could be helped in being less doubtful and more open to changes? You bet.
Thankfully, when it comes to the last question, a lot can be done. People can be inspired and they can learn to manage change. But how?
Well, as I wrote at the beginning, the ones open to transformation are actually managing the change, while the others are afraid the change is or will be managing them. They are not in control anymore. This leads to a feeling of being overwhelmed and helpless, of being unprepared, alone and anxious (something I’m sure we can all empathize with.) This negativity, in turn, leads to more questions, more doubt, more fear and more rejection of the change itself. You get the picture of this vicious circle. Because even if you didn’t choose to make this change, if it was rather brought onto you, in most cases it may not be a bad thing at all, but rather the start of a new chapter in life. But when the forced change is just towering over one like a dark tower, many people are frozen by fear. All they see is the change and not what good prospect this transformation might bring. The result? They close up.
We can! And this is exactly what they should realise.
So, by working together, a process of tutoring and guiding towards managing changes begins.
First the “fearfuls” should accept their feelings in order to understand why they are frightened or overwhelmed. This can be painful, but also relieving. Then they can go to the next step, which is best described as preparation. As an example: Before I moved to Romania I read just about everything about this country I could get my hands on, and when I arrived here, I never had the notion of coming into a completely “new world”. It may sound simple, but the security and confidence that preparation and planning can bring is immense. And this confidence is important on the way to regaining the feeling that one is able to control all of (or at least most facets) of the change, that one is indeed managing the change.
Another point is re-focussing on the reason behind the change, which sometimes gets blurred and lost in all the emotional uproar that a big change can stir. This ability to see ahead clearly is also what separates people who welcome changes and their counterparts that rather look backwards. Together creating a habit of positive reinforcement towards the change is very helpful when the sceptic finds it hard to let go of the past and concentrate on the next steps on the ladder. It might sound basic, but like many truths it actually is: A good mind-set is essential if one wants to open up to a new chapter in life.
As you see, helping people to deal with and then embrace changes is challenging and works on many levels. People are different, changes are different, and reasons are different. But changes must be accepted as a part of life … and with the right guidance and tutoring it is possible for everybody to turn them from something frightening to a great opportunity.
In fact, all that some people need to be shown is how to change one single character: from change to chance.