Change is Certain
I’m really excited to be blogging to you for the first time under our new Alegent Creighton Health name. It’s an exciting time for all of us who work for Alegent Creighton and serve the community under this new, expanded umbrella of care. Positive changes like this can feel very exciting. But have you noticed that some changes make us feel unsettled, anxious, or afraid? We get used to living life a certain way, with ideas and even expectations of doing things the way we’ve always done them. Therein lies the anxieties of the world we live in – that things do change – and often without our permission. Those of us who work in the field of mental and behavioral health see individuals and families every day who are facing changes that may be unsettling, anxiety producing, or extremely challenging in some way.
For example, the couple facing an empty nest for the first time and trying to figure out who they are as husband and wife again; an adolescent moving into his dorm, away from home for the first time in his life; or a woman facing retirement after giving many years of service to an organization. These changes may seem ordinary, a part of life, and possibly even expected. But it still may be very challenging to deal with. Change is certainly for certain, but it may not always be easy. Even happy changes – like a job promotion with a nice salary increase or winning the lottery – can produce feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and cause a certain amount of emotional discomfort.
Jack Canfield, the man who writes the Chicken Soup For The Soul books has a life equation that I have found to be invaluable in my personal and professional life. This is what Mr. Canfield’s life equation is:
OUTSIDE EVENTS + MY RESPONSE = THE OUTCOME
Some of you reading this may have heard me say this or write this in the past. I use this so much, I’m not even sure where or when I have NOT said it. But it makes so much sense. The events described above that may produce feelings of uncertainty and anxiety are based on outside events – things we cannot control. All we can control – or manage – is our response to the outside event. Give this some thought. Your response to the event will either create peace of mind or increased anxiety.
The unpredictability of life can and does create a sense of discomfort, loss, or anxiety. Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy. D., offers a self-help column on the web at aliveandwellnews.com. He offers six ways to cope with change that I think are worth taking a look at:
- See if you can reframe the meaning of the change that’s going on around you. In other words, try to juggle it around in your brain for a bit and see if there’s something positive you’ve overlooked about the change, or a different way to look at the change.
- Seek the support of others – family, friends, ministers, colleagues, etc.
- Join a support group if necessary.
- Seek professional help if you need it.
- Give yourself permission to feel your feelings, and work through emotions you are feeling.
- Participate in activities that help you regain a sense of control over some portion of your life.
If you can’t do all 6 of these, choose one that you feel you can do. Numbers 2, 3, and 4 seem to be inviting us to look outside of ourselves for support. Numbers 1, 5 and 6 seem to invite us to go within and trust in our ability to work things through. All 6 have value and you may find a source of comfort in any one of these.
Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.