Change can be a concept that for many people is terrifying… whilst others appear to take it in their stride. So, why is it so hard for some people to navigate?
Change, in it’s simplest form is when things become different from how they are right now.
In most cases, change is a positive thing, occasionally, change can be forced and harder to navigate. Some people will leap right in, with a faith that ‘everything will be ok’, whilst others can be crippled by the fear of ‘what might happen’ and the worry that it will have a negative outcome.
There are two parts to this. Firstly, the way that our brain processes change. The second, our level of resilience.
Resilience and Patterns
Take two people.
Lucy has always been active. She regularly attends clubs, classes and meets new people. She has changed her job every few years ‘seeking out better opportunities’ and whilst she has the occasional wobble, everything seems to work out for her. She seems to ‘bounce back’ from everything and all her decisions pay off in the long term. when making decisions about change she weighs up the opportunities and benefits versus the risks and then takes a bet that she can make things work out.
Kate has been in her job for 15 years. She isn’t very happy but it pays the bills and offers security and benefits. Her parents raised her to seek out stability and take cautious chances. She would love to have a career change but she knows she needs to pay her mortgage and that her job offers good perks. She has a bucket list of travel but she worries that it may go wrong and that she may not like the places when she gets there. She has a great deal of aspirations but feels that success is something that ‘happens to other people’.
Who are you?
Whilst extreme cases in comparison we may all recognise an aspect of Lucy or Kate in ourselves or our friends. We may reflect that some of the belief systems discussed we can empathise with? Or patterns of security we can mirror? Maybe you are Lucy and get frustrated with friends with tonnes of potential that only focus on the negatives?
- take people out of their comfort zones
- scare people as they don’t know what will come ‘next’
- can lead to assumptions being made which have no evidential back up or based on other people’s opinions
The patterns we develop in life come from our experiences. If we are offered opportunities (or take them) to try new things and learn that they can be ‘ok’. Or we taught how to resolve our worries/thoughts/problems we can build greater resilience. The more we develop skills of creative/intuitive thinking the greater our chances of learning to resolve any obstacles that come into our path without ‘giving up’ or quitting on our dreams. This allows us to widen our thought patterns about trying new things as we have a greater range of memories of it ‘working out’.
Alternatively, if when we tried something we did not like we were told we didn’t need to try new things ever again we build less memories of things working out and more of life ‘going wrong’ which can create a negative association to making changes. It can also lead us to fear trying something that is not tested as we have no recall for it.
Choice or Forced
Changes which we CHOOSE can be easier to rationalise. They feel more, in our control, so the aspect of choice supports us to move forward even if it is a ‘bit scary’ or causes feelings of apprehension.
Any change which is FORCED on people will generally follow a course of feelings
- rationalising – making sense of it – seeking advice or guidance
- making steps forward
Managing change better?
If we want to support our children and teenagers with change and building resilience we can offer them:
- Opportunities to try new things, meet new people and travel to new places (it doesn’t have to be miles) – developing opportunities to have positive experiences which create a ‘yes’ response to new things is key to opening doors later in life
- Don’t quit if the first does not work out – End on a positive – if one day something does not work out do not avoid it – avoidance increases fear in later life – break it down, look for something similar that is more achievable, try it again on a different day or time
- Talk through problem solving – encouraging children to develop problem solving skills and rationalising skills where they weigh up options and review alternative ways to resolve issues gives children and teenagers wonderful resolution skills which they can use as adults – it means that their creative brain looks for solutions not anxiety – model it in your life and encourage them to do it in theirs
- Role Model it – If you want your children to take up opportunities be a role model for it – break out of routines (even daily ones) and try new things foods/places/events/activities so that they can see change and new things are exciting – even if you have anxieties about something let your children decide for themselves so they learn to listen to their own instincts
- Keep speech positive – the more we talk negatively about things the greater our anxiety and worry about it – look at the positives – what could we learn? achieve? do? enjoy? see? – teach children to look at the excitement about something new so that they can get into a yes yes yes loop and want to seek it out
- Look for solutions – if your child expresses concern acknowledge their feelings and ask ‘how can we make this easier?’ and look for solutions – perhaps visit beforehand so they can see it, share the event with a friend, look for photos on the internet so they can resolve the fear without ‘avoiding it’