I know a thing or two about change lately. My first child graduated 8th grade and is off to high school, and if that isn’t enough to shake a mother to her core, he also made a switch from public school to private school for high school. Wow! As excited as I am for him, and as great as the new school is, this is a huge change. Not just for him, but also for me. Add to that the fact that he just turned 15, can you say Driver’s Permit and Driver’s Education. YOW!! I haven’t even touched on my younger son starting Junior High, my business taking a slightly new focus, oh, and did I mention that I started Master’s school this semester?
It is said that the only constant in life is change. Why then do we fear it? Why does change upset us so much? How do we maintain Wellness during these tumultuous times?
Change is scary! Did you ever stop to think about why change is so scary sometimes? Since we utilize our past experiences in life to help predict what will happen in the current situation change can really throw us off. Change can be even scarier when we have no previous experiences that we can compare it to and help predict what might happen. I remember going to high school as a young girl. My elementary school and junior high experiences had been pretty tame. I grew up in a small town and I went to school with all the same kids for 9 years! I was at the same school building for all but 1 of those years and I was comfortable. When I started high school I went to a building that was at least three times bigger than the school I had attended and the student population grew in that same proportion. For the first time in my life I was meeting new people, finding my own way, and making my own big girl decisions. I remember crying the night before high school started. Looking back, I know that it was fear that brought on those tears. Fear of the unknown. A very close friend of mine once told me that people cry because they feel that they have no control over the situation. In many cases, I agree. Change seems to put us in a situation in which we have no control. I hope you noticed that I said SEEMS! We often have more control than we think we do. If we pick the change apart and look at it in tiny pieces, we can find that we have past experiences that will help us know what to expect and take some of the fear out of the change. Additionally, when we think back on other changes we have successfully navigated we can gain confidence in our abilities to handle new situations.
Now for the fly in my ointment……sometimes our past experiences are not true indicators for what may happen. These experiences may provoke more anxiety and fear. What now?! If you have ever failed in a change (haven’t we all!) and you are facing a similar change how do you wrap your brain around the fact that this change could be different, even better? Life gives us gifts all the time. I will call them diamonds. These diamonds are small and sparkly and we most likely had to dig them out of the muck with our bare hands. They were not easy to acquire, but we keep them close to us. We guard them fiercely. We have learned that although we may fail, we have new skills, new ideas and new perspectives. We learned that once we settle into the change things may be easier than we thought they would be.
Fall is a big time for change. Kids are starting new schools, folks are re-energized in business, new empty nesters are created, and the list goes on and on. The only constant in life is change, so let’s get used to it. Let’s embrace it. Let’s learn from our past successes and our past failures. Some changes are for the better, some are more challenging, but no matter what- we will come out on the other side with some diamonds. Look for them, dig them out and guard them fiercely!
Mary Hirsch is a Consultant and Educator in the Wellness field, specializing in working with seniors and their families.