Moving places, changing work environment, being away from family and friends, getting married, breaking up/divorce, giving birth, finishing your studies and looking for what to do next… All these and many more situations are being experienced as life changes, which often bring about unexpected thoughts, emotions and overall challenges.
Every person carries certain personality traits, habits, unique characteristics which altogether formulate what we often refer to as “personality”. How do you adapt to life changes? What are your thoughts about yourself, your expectations and your wishes, your life goals? Even if others deal with some change in a way which makes them feel successful, is that what suits your personality to do?
In our fast-moving world, we do not spend much time in identifying who we are, but more what we want to achieve. Therefore, when change occurs, the planning goes off track easily, leaving us in a state of frustration since our coping mechanisms need to be reformulated in order to be adjusted to the new conditions. We are asked to re-orient ourselves, keeping from the past what we genuinely need and letting go what is not fitting anymore in the new chapter of our life.
Somewhere in between the past and present, the old and the new, the familiar and the unknown, what we often forget is the most important resource we have: ourselves, our values, our inner desires and aspirations, our strengths.
The first step to move along in this process of change is to carefully listen our inner voice. What do I need at this moment? How does my body react to the change? Do I feel more eager to do things? Do I feel less energetic? Where in my body do I feel these sensations? Sleeping, eating, levels of energy, breathing, these are basic cues I can start observing to understand what myself is telling me. At this first step, there is no need to modify anything but more identify my needs and listen to them.
A second step could be to start thinking about my inner resources, my strengths. This might be challenging at times, as we do not spend much training in our lives to do that. Some questions would be: What do I feel I am mostly strong at? What do other people who know me say I am good at? In which activity I am doing do I feel mostly comfortable with my abilities and my performance? How have I managed to cope with challenges in the past? What did I do and where did I find the ways to manage? It does not need to be a great challenge I managed, but almost anything I have been able to cope with, either small or large goal, as long as I feel that I dealt with it. Taking care of another person/pet, figuring out how to organize a trip, preparing a nice meal, these are also life tasks where we use resources we own that we often ignore.
Finally, a third basic step is to set my personal goals. Based on what I observed in myself and on my inner resources, where do I want to start from and what are the steps I want to take in order to achieve my goal? Regardless of whether this goal is to adapt to a new work environment or cope with a break up, before anything we always need to plan and take a small step towards our long-term goal. Plan your small steps, think carefully what you can and want to do and help yourself to feel safe every step of the way.
And in the frequent question people ask “what if I do something wrong?”, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can at any given moment.
Edited by Despoina Kairi, MSc Clinical Psychology