Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coping with Change

In my life I am constantly battling with change.  Some of it comes easy when I meet pleasant people.  Some of it not so easy when I meet unpleasant people.
Change is dynamic.  As Comtesse Diane wrote, “There is often a greater contrast between the same person at two different ages, than between two people of the same age.”
Change is the law of life and is inevitable. Immediately after we are born we experience abrupt change, adjusting ourselves from the cosy comfort of our mother’s body to this world. From the newborn’s perspective, breathing for the first time is a major achievement. This is why the obstetrician give him a pat on the back to stir him to breath on his own.
From the womb to the tomb there is no escape from change. We need to accept it not as an unfair condition but as an opportunity to move forward. Yet we fear change because we realize we are vulnerable. We seek security to protect all that is predictable and dependable in our lives. We can never fully control change, but we must learn to cope with it. Here are two techniques to help us adjust to change.
Accept the reality of change
Understanding the nature of change, particularly its pattern and direction, will enable us to react to it better.  Physically speaking, all things at all time are in the process of becoming something else.  Nothing in the world remains the same. Liquid water is constantly changing either to vapor or ice.
We begin to die the moment we are born, and this law applies to all living things. The ancient Greek thinker Heraclitus wrote, “No man can step into the same river twice.” The river is constantly flowing, and the waters that touched a man now are not the same waters that touched him a minute ago. Change is reality and reality is change.  Accepting this truth enables us to adapt to it gracefully.

Observe subtle change
While change is constant, it remains imperceptible to us. Over time an innocent child may turn out to be a troublesome teenager, or a loving couple may gradually drift apart.  These changes occur slowly, but we notice them only when they reach a critical point.  Changes that cause decline in health may occur in a subtle manner and escape our attention until one day we are shocked to hear about some ailment.  Positive changes also may occur in a subtle manner.  We may not quite appreciate how a once unkind person has been transformed into a kind-hearted individual.
Just like changing seasons, changes are gradual.  As seen in the growth of plants, the transformation from seed to sapling to mature plant is a procession.  With slow and deliberate purpose, the seed morphs. Time-lapse photography captures this process very well.
Perception plays an important role in change. After the Indian Ocean tsunami tragedy in late 2004, I found myself being fearful of the ocean. The ocean itself has not changed, but my perception of it has changed. At one time I found the ocean soothing and healing, but now I find it relentless and unforgiving.
Both time and perception are pivotal in coping with change. While time does help to heal some of the negative effects of change, perception must be included to fully complete the cycle of change. If you keep an open mind and learn new coping strategies, your brain forms new pathways that help manage the turbulent effects of change.

I hope you have enjoyed this excerpt from my book.  I will be posting more excerpts in future posts, so please come back.  Click here to buy your copy of A Book of Wisdom and Delight from Amazon today.

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