How to Stay Strong When Life Changes
What Are Life Changes?
Change in your life is inevitable.
Sometimes the changes are minor. Changing hairstyles, replacing your car, or going to a new gym.
Then you have your major life changes.
These changes have a significant impact on you and can cause you to re-evaluate everything you’d previously thought to be true.
Positive life changes are a source of happiness and joy that you welcome into your life.
But when major life changes are painful or traumatic they can leave you feeling devastated.
Why Are Life Changes Stressful?
The hardest life changes to deal with, for the most part, are the painful ones.
They’re the ones that hit you the hardest and require you to readjust your life.
Painful life changes can cause you to notice things about yourself and your life that up until that point you weren’t aware of.
They highlight our shortfalls, weaknesses, stupidity, and carelessness.
Confronting these things aren’t easy to deal with, especially when we have the change itself to deal with as well.
What Are the Biggest Changes in Life?
There are many life changes you can experience throughout your life.
Let’s break it down into two sections, positive and negative.
1. Positive Life Changes
- The birth of a child
- Moving to a new location
- Meeting a new partner
- Getting a new job or progressing in your career
- A financial windfall
- Surviving a serious illness
- Graduating university
- Paying off all your debt
- Regular overseas travel
- Getting married
2. Negative Life Chang
- The death of a loved one
- Becoming broke and bankrupt
- The failure of a business
- A messy divorce
- Being apart from your children
- The loss of a beloved pet
- Suffering due to a serious illness
- Becoming a drug addict or an alcoholic
- Losing your job and being unemployed
How to Cope When Things Change
Coping with a major change in your life means you have to adapt to a new set of circumstances and a new environment.
You need time to adjust both mentally and emotionally.
Here are 8 strategies you can use to cope with the changes in your life.
1. Acknowledge Where You Are
Acknowledging where you now are is the first step to dealing with major life changes.
Denial will only delay your progress and make it harder for you to move on with your life.
To acknowledge where you are doesn’t mean you have to like it.
For a while, you may find yourself in a state of total bewilderment.
You might be unwilling to accept what’s happened, or how it could have happened.
But until you get to the point of “ok, this is where I am”, you won’t be able to adapt to the change and move forward.
2. Accept Uncertainty
Most people don’t cope well with uncertainty. They live a predictable life with set routines.
When something changes and shatters that predictability they don’t know how to deal with it.
In Buddhism, they say that control is an illusion.
You might think that you have certainty and security, but every one of us is only a phone call or an incident away from total devastation.
Acknowledging that uncertainty and randomness are a part of life, tends to make us more grateful and appreciative in the moment.
Our lives and the people in it take on a higher meaning because we know they can be taken away at any time.
3. Clarify Your Priorities
When you deal with major life changes you re-evaluate your priorities.
When your child falls seriously ill, did it matter that they didn’t clean their room as you told them a few days ago?
Decide what’s most important to you and discard the rest. You’ll feel an immediate sense of lightness when you do this.
We weigh ourselves down with so many things that, when you think about it, don’t matter.
Declutter your mind and your life by prioritizing what’s important.
What are you willing to give your time and attention to and what’s a waste of your time and emotional energy.
When you narrow your priorities down to what matters and let go of everything else you'll find a renewed sense of focus, purpose and inner peace.
4. Have a Plan in Place
Creating a plan and implementing a sense of order to your life is critical when you’re adjusting to major change.
Putting a plan together means making note of where you are now compared to where you want to be.
What do you need to start doing?
Now’s the time to decide what you want and how you intend to get it.
Having a plan gives you structure and gives your brain a clear objective to pursue.
When you have no plan or clear objectives you can easily fall into helplessness and self-pity.
But when you have a clear plan, your spirits lift and your hope for the future, however faint, returns.
5. Deal With Your Pain
If you’ve suffered a loss and you need to adjust to new life circumstances give yourself time to recover from the emotional pain you feel.
The most painful changes to endure are the ones you feel you have no control over.
Dealing with emotional pain takes time. It’s a process, not an event.
Your life path has changed and not of your choosing.
Don’t deny yourself the grieving process or pretend like everything’s ok when it's not.
Take some time to yourself, or seek help and support to deal with the pain you’re experiencing.
6. Take Care of Your Self
When your mind grapples with an unexpected change of events, it’s easy to neglect yourself.
Taking care of yourself means just that.
Eating properly, getting enough sleep, and continuing your hobbies and interests.
At this point in your life, your primary focus is to get yourself together so you can function again.
Numbing the pain with alcohol or quick fix behaviors won’t help you.
All they’ll do is increase the inner pain you feel and delay your recovery time.
When you focus on your health, quality of life and the future ahead of you, the recovery process accelerates.
7. Find a Higher Meaning
However dire things seem right now, over time you will feel better.
Your life will regain some sort of normalcy again.
When you’re in the middle of a crisis the last thing you want to hear is “try to see the positive side”.
But as time goes by and you’ve had time to absorb the change you’ll notice things that happened as a consequence of the event that now affect your life in positive ways.
Whether it's the kindness you received from the people around you or inner changes you’ve experienced that caused you to see the world differently and be a better person, they’re there if you look for them.
8. Keep Living Your Life
Don’t isolate yourself in a corner and cut yourself off from the world.
As much as you can, keep living your life.
Even if you have to press pause on a few things or cut down, keep living your life as best you can.
The worst thing you can do for yourself is to cease all activity and be alone in your head.
Our minds have a funny way of playing with us in times of change.
Misperceptions, distortion of meaning, not to mention anxiety and depression.
Stay active, be as social as you can and remember to love yourself.
Whatever you’re going through, you will get through it.
Change is a Positive Event
Life changes can move us forward in our lives, leading to success, happiness, and untold joy.
They can also leave us feeling devastated and cause us to lose all hope.
How you choose to deal with the changes in front of you is what determines your degree of suffering.
As time goes on, the extent of your recovery is largely up to you.
If you can find a higher meaning and use it to be a better or a more effective person, you can at least get a return on your suffering.
You may never fully recover. The change might stay with you for the rest of your life.
As hard as it is, keep your head held high, your heart warm and open, and your hope for a better future intact.
Quotes About Dealing With Change
“It doesn’t matter where you are, you are nowhere compared to where you can go”– Bob Proctor
“Lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at you” – David Brinkley
“In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” – Warren Buffett
“By changing nothing, nothing changes” – Tony Robbins
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow” – Mary Anne Radmacher
“When in doubt, choose change” – Lily Leung“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together” – Marilyn Monroe