Facing Change Once Again
Updated: Jun 30, 2020
Right now we all crave answers to questions that nobody knows the answer to…. How are we dealing with this and how should we be dealing with this?
On Sunday many of us watched Boris Johnson’s announcement regarding corona-virus. We now have to start figuring out what these government’s plans (to phase us out of lockdown) mean to us personally and to the people around us.
We’ve all been on the ‘corona-coaster’ since the middle of March (highs and lows within short periods of time). We are all adjusting to the fact that there is a ‘new normal’ and this ‘new normal’ continues to change regularly, so maybe it is more of a series of ‘temporary normal’. We can’t predict what’s changing when, nor in what ways the changes might happen, so we are retraining our brains continuously to adjust to new facts, situations and rules.
As we adjust at each stage it will be hard for most of us as uncertainty will kick in and we need to process each of the three stages of change: endings, neutral zone and beginnings (Bridges Transition Model by William Bridges).
‘Endings’ require you to let go of what has become familiar and comfortable, your ‘normal’ so to say. Then we move into the ‘neutral zone’, which sits in between endings and beginnings, this stage can be both freeing but also scary. You are no longer tied down to the past, the ‘normal’ or the reality that you knew, but you haven’t attached yourself to a new reality of the new/temporary normal either.
When we reach the new ‘beginning’ phase, we adapt to a new normal or temporary normal, which includes new norms and rules for behaviour. This three stage process might feel like doing a skydive: the ending requires you to make the leap (or be pushed in some cases) and let go of what you feel comfortable with, and what you know so well. Then you spend a little time in free-fall through the air – the neutral zone, which will eventually lead you to the new beginning when your parachute opens, your new normal.
These stages and our progress through them varies dramatically between people. There is one group that is excited and can’t wait to get to the new beginning and tries to rush through the stages, and in contrast, another group that is the absolute opposite and wants to hang on to the ending as long as they can, out of fear and anxiety of what is to come. Others might quite like the neutral zone, the freedom of not being attached to anything, and they may want to take their time to adapt to new rules.
Change is hard. As we go through this time of uncertainty and instability, we are all doing our best to navigate both the change and the transition we are experiencing. Another key factor in any change process is our sense of control over it.
This brings to mind is the Serenity prayer that the AA uses:
I’ve been granted the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference
This is a beautiful and useful way to look at life in general, especially at this moment in time. The uncertainty and instability about the future is making us seek answers to questions no-one can answer. Instead, let’s focus on the parts in our lives that we do have some control over.
If we focus on the things we can change not on the things that we can’t change, we will be more at peace and able to adjust successfully. Why not try making a list with the things you can change on it, and another list with things you can’t? Once you have written both lists, rip to pieces the list with things you can’t change on it, and throw these pieces away or symbolically burn them to release how you feel about them. Now focus on the first list, the things you can change. Look at that list and work through it, as much or as little as you can each day, focusing on positive, manageable changes which will help you manage the uncertainty ahead.