5 Stages of Coping with Change That Can’t Be Rushed
If there is one thing that is certain in our lives, it is change.
Nothing stays static. Everything is always in flux, transforming. But how to deal with the changes is something that we often struggle with. Moving into the unknown, entering uncharted territory. That’s scary.
The experience and anticipation of fear that is associated with change creates a feeling of trepidation in most people. The unfamiliar feels painful to us and we do our best to avoid it, even when we know it is inevitable. But growth only comes with change.
That means we have to learn how to deal with changes in our life and become familiar with the steps of recognizing change, overcoming it and growing past it.
Here, we at Jay Shetty Certification School provide five steps of coping with change that will help you get through difficult times and become a stronger person. We will also cover what change is and provide some steps to focus on before you approach your next big life changes and transitions.
What is Change: Our Transformative Life
Change is something everyone goes through in their life. Although change is unavoidable, we tend to resist the unknown. Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, once famously said, “Change is the only constant in life. One’s ability to adapt to those changes will determine your success in life.”
In other words, change will always be there, but having the ability to adapt means the difference between success and unrealized potential.
However, we are rarely taught how to adjust our attitudes and beliefs in times of uncertainty and distress. In many cultures, there is an idea of just getting through it, working on: keeping calm and carrying on.
But there is a process to change, and a process that we must go through to cope and adapt to big life changes. There are steps we must follow to resettle.
This natural process is the way our minds are able to adapt to new environments and new experiences. The good news is that despite contrary opinions, this ability to adapt can be learned and practiced.
Adopting a simple and structured approach to our phased reactions to change has proven effective to help us absorb the initial shock and resistance. Thereby, we can cultivate the acceptance needed to utilize the opportunities that change presents to us.
Since change can often feel like pain, grief, or loss, we tend to naturally drift back to the status quo that we are familiar with, even if it also means creating unnecessary pain, stagnation, or lost opportunities.
This is a human habit: we prefer the familiar to the new, even if that means we miss out.
Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh argues that we prefer suffering that is familiar to us because it gives us a sense of comfort and certainty.
Change, on the other hand, feels like unfamiliar pain, because it is unpredictable and unmanageable, which we are not used to dealing with. But this doesn’t mean that change is bad, only that it may feel like it is bad.
In fact, we need change in order to transform, learn and grow. Imagine all the changes you have been through as a human: from childhood to adulthood, from uneducated to educated, from single to in a relationship, individual to parent, young to old.
At each moment there is fear, but also there is beauty. A new stage of life awaits us. A new moment is here. We here at Jay Shetty Certification School encourage you: learn to embrace the flux and adapt to the new changes to experience all that our life has to offer.
How Can I Cope with Big Life Changes?
How exactly can someone do this? What can we do to learn how to cope with big life changes? Or, when something smaller happens, how can we deal with that small change in life?
The first step is to acknowledge that things are changing.
From this point, we can take steps to adapt and recognize the symptoms of change-induced anxiety, stress and fear. Then, we can adapt to any big life changes.
What we should avoid is denial. Sometimes large changes can be stressful and it can be tempting to ignore them and pretend nothing is happening by “sticking our head in the sand.”
While denial is a powerful response and can protect us in many ways, recognizing denial in change that is unavoidable is important. Instead, come to understand that changes are happening and it will be okay.
The Jay Shetty Certification School team believes it’s also crucial to acknowledge that experiencing stress related to change is normal. Even when the changes are generally positive, it can be destabilizing to realize things are moving, transforming, and changing beyond our control.
Take graduation, for example. You’ve worked hard to complete your degree, perhaps achieving a good final grade. You’re more knowledgeable, educated and wiser. This is the moment you’ve been preparing for: stepping on stage and receiving your diploma.
But then what?
Now, it’s time to leave behind your university or college routine, comfort zone, and friends. Perhaps you will need to move out of the city that has been your home for the past years, or you will have to find a job which involves stepping into something new.
This is an example of a change which is positive, but which is nonetheless destabilizing. If we’re not careful, these kinds of changes can lead to problems such as anxiety and uncontrolled fear.
So it is necessary to think before big change comes and prepare ourselves for handling the positive and negative emotions that come with such change.
One tool that can help us better prepare is understanding the Five Stages of Grief, a model developed by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. As any change involves a sort of grief for what is being lost in the change, we at Jay Shetty Certification School argue it can also be applied to what happens during a life change as well.
The Kübler Ross Model: The Five Stages of Grief (and Change)
The Kübler-Ross model encapsulates the series of emotions that a person feels in reaction to an intense loss or the fear that such a loss is imminent. These stages are denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance.
According to Kübler-Ross, the confusion, fear, and shock a person feels immediately following sudden upsetting news or events, compels them to avoid or deny the experience as they try to continue with their life as usual. After denial, a person becomes anxious, frustrated and angry about what has happened, leading them to blame others.
Next, a sense of helplessness sets in, and they begin to withdraw from the activities and contacts they once enjoyed. They may fall into the trap of “what if,” or “if only.” They might even try seeking out a higher power and “bargaining,” trying to turn the situation around or reverse tragedy.
Eventually, as the person moves through Kübler-Ross’s Five Stages, they start to recognize the need to restart their life, they learn to accept what has happened, and try to find meaning again. They can then reach out to others and share their story with those who have been in a similar situation.
What are the Five Steps to Coping with Big Changes?
The process of change follows a similar pattern that the stages of grief introduced by Kübler-Ross. We can use these steps to recognize, accommodate, and learn from life’s changes when they come, and help us more smoothly acclimate in our daily lives.
Experiencing grief or loss is similar to suddenly being subjected to a life-altering change.
Confusion, fear, and feeling lost are typical reactions to something unexpected and unpredictable. You may become overwhelmed by conflicting information as you figure out what to do. Therefore, as much as possible, you should focus on facts rather than fiction, opinion, and inaccurate information.
It’s natural to feel anxiety under extraordinary circumstances, yet we tend to demonize this feeling and attack it, rather than neutralizing the anxiety by accepting it when it arises. Understand that anxiety will come and go. You won’t always feel anxious, but neither will you not ever feel it. For the most part, feelings of anxiety are normal and a part of life.
Anger towards yourself often follows anxiety and confusion after an uncontrollable change. You might feel frustrated that you have lost personal agency. You feel you don’t have power or autonomy over your own life. The anger starts to take over your thoughts and feelings as you seek to escape its hold. Rather than starving your anger and frustration of energy, you feed it, which only makes it stronger.
Instead, allow yourself to feel this anger. Acknowledge its presence through journaling, mindfulness, introspection, and daily reflection,allowing your feelings of anger to divert and dissipate.
When you are able to recognize reality and distinguish between the things you can change and the things you can’t, you begin to accept the inevitability of the change to which you have been subjected.
This doesn’t mean you are happy about your situation, but you can disassociate it from your subjective emotions. Similarly, if the event is generally positive, you can start to frame it and understand the positives that may come.
As a result, you can now start dealing with your new reality. Although this is a good place to be, don’t rush the transition from anxiety and anger to acceptance. Instead, let yourself settle naturally as you form a stronger and more stable base from which to navigate your new life.
Understand that acceptance is a growing state that can temporarily revert back to anxiety and anger at any time. This doesn’t mean you’re regressing. Remember that no emotion has a permanent fixture.
#4 Adjusting & Adapting
The fourth stage in dealing with change is adjusting and adapting.
This is where you should spend the most time and energy to experiment with different routines, habits, activities, connections, and focus. You can also work on obtaining knowledge and learning new skills to apply in different ways and areas.
This is an exciting stage where you are constantly trying to figure out how you fit into your new environment. A helpful grounding exercise is to develop one landmark activity to do in the morning, and another in the evening, which supports and allows you to adjust more easily.
The fifth and final step in dealing with change is action. Now that you’ve gone through the preceding steps, you have a solid base and plan. You are ready to move in the direction that is right for you.
In summary, the five stages involved in reacting to change are as follows: anxiety, anger, acceptance, adjusting and adapting, and action. This is a cycle that you may often repeat multiple times in your personal growth process. Nothing ever stays the same.
The key to managing change is to always find new ways to live and love your life in every situation.
This attitude allows you to feel a real sense of hope––understanding that you’re part of the solution for both yourself and others, and that you’re actively involved in the ripple effect to make the world better for everyone.
Life Coaching for Life Change
Change is inevitable and is a process of life we all must go through. While we cannot prevent change when it appears, or always guarantee that there will be positive outcomes from change, it’s an important part of our lives we need to accept
Learning how to deal with change is crucial.
If you’re going through a life transition, or a big life change, then perhaps a coach can help you come to terms and adapt to your new way of life.
Coaching is key to understanding yourself, gaining awareness, and building resilience.
A life coach could be a parental coach, a relationship coach, or a divorce coach. Perhaps you need some guidance on adapting to a new job, or building inner wherewithal from a resilience coach. Whatever it is, a coach can help you navigate through life’s changes and transitions by means of strategy and support.
If you’re looking for the perfect coach to help you reflect and prepare before big life changes, browse here for a great coach to fit your needs.
Looking to Become a Life Coach?
Perhaps you have already been on a coaching journey, and come through the other side.
Maybe you’ve experienced enough big life changes to last a lifetime and are full of a plethora of lessons.
If this is the case, the path for you could be to become a life coach and share your wisdom with those who need it.
It’s time to take the leap and begin following your true calling.
A great place to start your life coaching journey is with the Jay Shetty Certification School. With a comprehensive curriculum including how to grow a coaching business, coaching tools and techniques, and a huge global network of peers to share with and learn from, Jay Shetty Certification School is designed to set you up for success.
Enroll today and begin your journey to helping someone overcome life’s changes as a professional coach.