One of the biggest triggers for an episode of stress, depression or anxiety is a change to our lives, particularly unwanted change such as a death of a loved one, a job loss or a relationship breakdown. These are unpleasant experiences and for many, a prolonged period of mental trauma followed.
During the past week, two friends of mine have experienced differing major changes to their lives yet both reacted in exactly the same way. There is a very important skill to be learned from both experiences when it comes to change, and I’ll share it with you. Before I do, let’s look at how two totally different changes can trigger the same reaction but with drastically different emotional results.
Jimmy was my best buddy during childhood and our families were good friends. I haven’t seen him for a while and out of the blue, I bumped into him whilst on a night out. Sadly, his news wasn’t good as his father had passed away after battling cancer that very morning. Obviously, he’d known for a while that his father’s days were numbered but despite this, he was still in a state of shock and of course, he was deeply saddened.
I wished that our greeting could’ve been in happier circumstances, but such is the tide of life.
The following day, Paul, my best friend, rang me and told me some very good news. After studying and working hard for the last two years, he had reached his goal: a fully qualified commercial airline pilot. Knowing how focused and dedicated he’s been I was absolutely delighted for him! Of course, he was buzzing with excitement about the future that now awaits him.
OK, both of them supplied the same meaning to their circumstances by saying EXACTLY the same phrase:
“Things will never be the same again.”
Same phrase, but a world apart in meaning.
In the first situation, the loss of a loved one is an unwanted change, a change that cannot be prevented. In the second situation, the qualifications are a wanted, planned change, a change brought about by conscious choice to achieve a desired lifestyle.
However, there is a very important lesson you can learn from both that can help you deal with change, whether it’s a desired change like a change of job or an unwanted change like loss of a loved one.
Look at the phrase again. It describes not just individual experiences but the whole of life on planet earth. Because NOTHING in this life will stay the same. It just isn’t the nature of life. The very nature of life itself is a constant cycle of birth and death.
As a species, humanity has evolved throughout its history and will continue to do so. The way life is today is dramatically different than it was just 20 years ago. Technology, science, education, standards of living – you name it, it changes.
Look at your own life and you’ll see that change has been ever present. People, jobs, relationships, lifestyle – none of it has ever stayed the same. And imagine how boring life would be if everyday was exactly the same!
Reacting to change in a catastrophic or euphoric manner isn’t the way to deal with it. Far better – and far less emotionally arousing – is to accept that change is a constant of life whether we want change or not and that change will always happen. It’s how you adapt and assign meanings to change that counts.
Keep this in mind when change occurs and you won’t become emotionally traumatized. Change is a constant and indeed, things will never be the same again!