The One Consistency of Life
The old saying “the only constant in life is change” gets more and more true for me the older I get. Despite seeing this and accepting it, however, I tend to dig my heels in and do my best to prevent the inevitable disruptions in my life. Even change that I have brought on myself that I view as positive, I will try to control and make sure only the slightest things are different. This rarely ends well and usually involves me becoming frustrated or overwhelmed.
The best example of this is what happens when I visit my family. I love them dearly and look forward to spending time with them when traveling back to Michigan. However, within the ﬁrst couple of hours of being around my rambunctious nieces and nephews, I get irritable. Then I feel guilty and a host of unhelpful emotions come out to play. Why? Because I am refusing to accept the change in my surroundings. My comfort zone is my home-quiet and peaceful with just my husband and I. When I visit my family I need to accept the change in the environment and that includes everything that comes with being around 6 children. The more I refuse to adapt to these things, the less I am able to enjoy spending time with the people around me. Instead of accepting and ﬂowing with the environment-I become angry and blame those around me for not being what I want them to be.
So-how does someone overcome this aversion to change? For me, I start by recognizing my discomfort for what it is-frustration at not being able to control everyone and everything around me. Acknowledging that I need some aspect of my routine helps, too. Even if it’s waking up extra early to enjoy my coffee while it’s quiet and soaking up some additional alone time before the day gets busy. While in the midst of the chaos when I realize I’m getting irritable, I try to just stop thinking so much about what’s wrong and throw myself into an activity or simply stop trying to control the situation. I take a step back and try to recognize that life will unfold the way it’s supposed to and I don’t have to make sure “everything goes right”.
Letting go of the need to control a situation can make dealing with it easier. Recognizing that our responses and actions are the only things in this world we truly have control over can help us overcome this difﬁculty with change. Not that this is easy, but it provides a path to handle these things more effectively.
So, what can I control when change has me feeling fearful or uncomfortable?
1. Emotional response-acknowledge the emotion you’re experiencing and ask yourself why you’re feeling that way. Is the emotion and it’s intensity warranted given the facts?
2. Actions-we have control over what we say and do; are either of these actions making the situation worse? Is there an action I can take that would make the situation better?
Although those 2 items may not seem like much, they can make a world of difference when we’re in an uncomfortable space. Sometimes changes in our lives can cause signiﬁcant disruptions that are more than we can handle on our own. A licensed mental health professional can help. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services at 407-443-8862 to make an appointment with one of our experienced Orlando counselors.