Change is tough. Even positive change can be challenging to handle. Why is change so challenging, and how can we make it better?
1) Change Triggers Fight/Flight Response
New things are dangerous things. We don’t know them. So we fear them. It’s that simple. Change is like looking at the contours of a shadow at night. As we cannot understand it’s details and more delicate shapes, we project onto that shadow our worst fears or our most wishful thinking. And just like a Rorschach change reveals a lot more about us than it does about the actual impacted items themselves. The dual nature of change, raises our alert systems and puts us in fight/flight response. Unless you are enlightened, or on some severe opiates, any transformation will deterministically place you in fight/flight response, which will trigger all kinds of stress hormones and set you off in a defensive pathway since its inception. Not a great way to start, is it?
2) Change Puts The Future on Wheels
The unknown aspect of change heightens our perspective that the future is up for grabs. And typically, not in a good way. It’s as if the very fabric of our microverse becomes under attack and challenges the most reassuring anchors we have created in our lives to promote a sense of well-being. The workaround is to lean into the unknown. Yes, there is nothing you can know about the future. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s only bad as long as that notion rubs against the idea of thinking you know what the future holds or expecting specific outcomes. As soon as you let go of that and lean into the fact that the future is on wheels, and that is the very essence of life, embracing change, can become more feasible.
3) Change Requires Effort to Adapt
Your perceptive apparatus is know overwhelmed with new stimuli. That in itself consumes energy. But what consumes even more mental bandwidth and power are the mental calculations that you go through to try to adapt to the change in the best possible way and increase the likelihood of your survival at the end of all this change. There is not much that can be done here other than expect this to happen. Expect to spend more energy and focus on replenishing. Sleep more or at least with more inner peace, eat better and more nutritious food. Be extra gentle to yourself with small gestures. A kind attitude towards your self will do leaps and bounds in terms of how you handle change.
Change can and typically does bring about the worst aspects of our being. Stress response will trigger defensive sometimes even hostile attitudes as a lot more of our subconscious is rigged and governed by fear than by a fundamental belief that everything will be alright. Deep down, we know we are going to die and we know that because of that nothing will ever be okay, and at the same time because of that fundamental knowledge buried deep down in some cave within our soul, we have the power to fully liberate ourselves from the claws of the future as an unknown threat. Take a step back, take a few breaths, check yourself and proceed with kindness, above and foremost with yourself.
Written by Gabriel Fairman
Gabriel is the founder and CEO of Bureau Works. He loves change—and eating grass.