As a counselor, I am regularly asked by some of my clients what it takes to deal with a big life change. What do I mean by big?
Here’s a brief list:
Divorce or Breakup
Child Leaving For College
Death of a Loved One
Moving Out of State
Birth of a Child
These are not small changes. These are shifts that have a huge impact on my clients, sometimes shaking them to the core. They don’t know how to move forward, let alone sit with something that is unpredictable and uncomfortable. And while some of these life changes are painful, some are not, like seeing a child get married or a baby born. Despite the fact that these changes are positive, they are still big changes, and we may grieve a loss of some sort all the same.
In my counseling sessions, I offer tips on how to deal with big life changes. Here are a few:
1) Remember that life is full of changes, good and bad.
When things are sun-shiny and happy and going our way, we are grateful for the changes that brought us there. But when the storm clouds move in and something not so wonderful happens, we begin to doubt ourselves. We wonder if we are being punished or may ask, “Why me?”
Remember that life offers us both gifts and challenges. Without the bad, we wouldn’t know the good. We have to have experiences of both kinds in order to grow.
2) Change is Inevitable.
As much as we want to resist change, we can’t. Yet we resist anyway. When a change or transition is happening we have two ways to approach it:
First, we can tighten our muscles and dig in our heels as though we are preparing for a fight as the wave of change gets closer. Or, the second option, we can notice the wave coming and dive right on into it.
While you might get tossed around a bit, the recovery time is much quicker versus fighting it and getting pummeled. Being able to ride the wave, go with the flow, and be flexible can help you get through the process quicker and with more ease.
My point is that we have to understand that life is about change. Change is inevitable. It’s how we deal with those changes that make a difference.
3) Connect with a Friend.
Friends actually can help you stress less. It’s true! There have been lots of research on this stating that when we have a friend with us during stressful times it can actually decrease the stress hormones in our brains. We were made for connectedness. You were made for connectedness. The challenging part can be figuring out who you want in your corner.
During stressful times, connect with a friend to help you manage your stress. Just a little time together with friends can work wonders.
Dealing with life change doesn’t have to be difficult. As Lena Horne once said, “It’s not the load the breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”