I can’t think of a more accurate metaphor for life. Startling news often waits for us just over the rise. Disturbing surprises leave us paralyzed, fearful, or angry. Likely, we find ourselves in the throes of unexpected change. I’ve prided myself on adaptability, but only when I instigate the changes and negotiate the terms. When external circumstances impact life in undesirable ways, I scramble to regain control.
The Emotional Stages of Change
These seven stages describe the emotional dynamics of change (Corinna Baldauf):
- Apprehensive about changes to come.
- The news arrives that change is here.
- Resistance; holding onto the previous state of affairs.
- Rationally see that change is here to stay; no more rebellion, but no optimism.
- Accept that change will never reverse; still painful to let go of the old ways.
- Begin to explore the new state of affairs; different, but perhaps not worse.
- Gain confidence to move forward.
Sometimes we pass through stages in seconds, and others take years. Or we get stuck in a stage. A recent revelation promising unwanted change hurled me right into that cycle. After two weeks at stage 4, I spend the third week attempting to take charge of life again.
Remedies to Ease Change
Exercise. I renew my fitness center membership for six months. Haven’t we heard repeatedly that exercise reduces stress? Exercise creates chemical changes in the brain negating the harmful effects of the stress hormones that surge through the body in response to worry, anxiety, or trauma. I need a serious rebooting of my body and head.
Speak Up. To be safe, I stick with my figurative voice. I vote in the midterm election. Of the 13 offices on my ballot, 8 candidates are women who share my political view. I leave the polls feeling slightly more empowered.
Use Therapy. My former SRU colleague, Dr. Mary Vetere, employed retail therapy as her top stress-relieving technique. I’m interested in shopping when it involves buying for my granddaughters. This could work. I take a shopping spree to Kingston, Ontario in search of furniture for our youngest granddaughter’s bedroom. A successful visit to Ashley Home Furniture pays off for Britt and me.
Try Self-Help. I re-boot Psycho-Cybernetics in my car’s CD player. I have played and heard the entire book no less than six times. I never fail to discover a significant point that applies to any current challenge or adverse situation. Even when things are going great, Dr. Maxwell Maltz serves as a reliable life coach. Whenever I drive his voice dispels anxious thoughts.
Medicate. I purchase a case of assorted wine from the Thousand Islands Winery. Of course I know that this is not the first, best, or long-term solution, but sometimes a little attitude adjustment helps. It’s my duty to support the local economy and the red versions supply much-needed antioxidants, right?
Channel negativity. Movies are a great escape. Hunter Killer sounds like a film that matches my emotions. When I check times, I find it’s not showing. I settle for The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Probably even a better choice considering the protagonist, a righteous, vengeful woman.
Spend time with grandchildren. Reed, Paul, and I take Rayna and Britt to the Aquatarium in nearby Brockville, Ontario. The river otters, the fish, and all the interactive attractions usurp my attention. My bond with the granddaughters remains constant. I get a sense of stage 6.
More cures for change anxiety: laugh, listen to music, or talk to a friend. I have all those on my agenda. Time passes. Change becomes the status quo. When mayhem knocks the wind out of your psyche consider my remedies.