Coping With Change

‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude’. Maya Angelou.

Most of us, when faced with a change outside of our control, insitinctively react by wanting to hold onto things just as they are (even if they aren’t that fabulous – better the devil you know….!).

A few of us will say we’re good at coping with change, but many people I work with tell me how much they hate change, and wish ‘they‘ would just leave things alone for a while.

Lots of us think we’re not good at coping with change but in fact, assuming you are adult, you will already have coped with lots of change in your life and have masses of experience to draw upon. Some of those changes you will have managed better than others and this exercise will help you to realise what some of your coping strategies have been in the past.

A Change Exercise

Take a sheet of A4 paper and turn it sideways (landscape if on your computer). Decide what scale you are going to use. For example, if you are in your early twenties you might have a timeline divided up into two year gaps, e.g. 1-2, 2-4, 4-6, etc but you’ll probably start from when your memories begin, say 5! If you are older, you may use a 5 year span 5-10, 10-15, 15-20. Choose one that’s appropriate. Draw columns down the page for each span of time.

Once you’ve marked off your sheet, put into each of the time frames all the changes you experienced during that period. For example, at 5 you started school (how did THAT feel?), and will have had different schools at different times. You may have moved home, you started working, you maybe left home, siblings may have arrived, parents may have divorced, you went to college, decimalisation was introduced, you had to wear a seat belt, smoking was banned in all public places and so on. This is a great exercise to do in a group as you will spark each other off as you remember more and more changes that you have experienced, some funny, some serious, some sad, some really good.

A Change Survivor

The point of the exercise is to illustrate that you have survived all those changes and not only survived, but also accrued some valuable life skills along the way. Those skills stood you in good stead once and will do so again, if you can just access them in your mind and remove some of the inevitable fear that accompanies change. One of the most helpful things you can do to help cope with change is to stop telling yourself it’s bad and that you’re no good at it!

Coping with Change Article

I have written a much longer article on change which also looks at some of the theory associated with experiencing change. It’s available with many others free of charge on my web site. You can read it by clicking here.

Share Your Tips

If you have your own particular ways of coping with change in your life I’d love to hear them, simply comment on the blog; it’s easy! I look forward to hearing from you!


Posted on August 6th, 2009 by

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