How to Adapt to Change?

Change is inevitable. Sometimes, it comes from unexpected sources and pushes you to face unwanted consequences. Unexpected changes could be, for example, a divorce, the death of someone you love, or an illness. Even positive changes, such as getting a new job, bringing a child into your family, or moving to a new place, may bring stress and worry. Depending on the significance of the change, it may trigger feelings of insecurity and fear, as well as other feelings— including shame, guilt, anger, or frustration. So what should you do when you are facing a change?

To help you, I will use the image of the wheel of life, a beautiful symbol that represents the stages and process of adaptation to the change. This wheel of life has four positions: happiness, loss, suffering, and hope. The first position is one you’re familiar with: happiness. It’s the “going well” stage.

The second stage: loss, is when you stop being comfortable. It’s the moment when you are forced to face the change. It’s when the information comes, and you feel paralyzed. Your world shakes and feels as if it’s breaking into millions of pieces. The only thing you want to do is to go back to when you felt comfortable, back to your routine, to the previous stage of happiness. In this second stage, you may naturally want to look away and pretend nothing has happened. You are in disbelief; life might feel like a dream. The reality is, you can’t go back because the wheel keeps going in a clockwise direction. No matter how hard it feels to face your loss, you absolutely can’t turn the clock back; you must move forward. You can stay in this stage as long as you need; many people are stuck here, unable to face the problem. So, they pretend the change didn’t happen and avoid it.

The next stage is connected to suffering. It’s when you face the issue, look it in the eye, recognize it, and allow yourself to be hurt. It’s in this state where you can expect guilt, sadness, frustration, inner conflict, anger, and pain to come. You might feel stripped naked and beat up in this process. You might want to scream and ask, “Why me?” You question over and over, reliving the past events and bringing up painful memories. You suffer and grieve, and it’s sad. You burn all of the pain in that process.

The final stage of transformation comes when hope starts to awaken. It happens when you begin to feel touched by beauty again. When you wake up in the morning and see the sun shining through the window, and you experience the sense of aliveness within. This stage brings acceptance, renewal, and positive energy…and it opens you. Eventually, you start seeing the beauty of life, you feel satisfied again. From that stage, you return to the stage of happiness. Your renewed routine emerges, you feel content and joyful. Life is good.

Although you can’t choose to participate—or not to participate—in the wheel of life, you can consciously decide to be an active player who’s turning that wheel. You can recognize which stage you are in and allow yourself to go through the process. Know that each change brings transformation—an opportunity to look within, grasp, evaluate, and improve. When you look retrospectively at your life, you will admit that the biggest changes and painful experiences were pivot points—and through them, you became stronger and were given opportunities to grow. The same wheel of change may be applied to your life in a range of areas, including finances, family, friends, health, etc. We will discuss this next month.

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