Don’t Let Change Be a Stranger: How to Embrace Change As Your New BFF by Andi Simon
Life for everyone is different today than it was a year ago before the coronavirus pandemic. But for some individuals life today may even be different than it was a month ago, a week ago or even 24 hours ago. And maybe, even probably, they don’t like the way change is disrupting their previously predictable personal world.
But since change is inevitable and comes whether you like it or not, the best approach is not to resist it and do battle with it, but to find ways to make change your friend. A friend is someone we trust, who is special to us and is appreciated. We enjoy being with them. But instead of seeing change as a friend, we treat it the way we do a stranger. Like a stranger, change is foreign to us and we are afraid of it because we are afraid of the unknown.
People resist change in part because that’s the way the human brain works. When we are young, our minds create a story about who we are and that story becomes our reality, even though it’s not really reality. The mind knows what you like, who you are and it deletes anything that does not fit your reality.
That’s why when people encounter a change, the brain’s default is essentially to say, “We don’t do that.” The brain is trying to be helpful, seeking to keep people comfortable within their normal habits. But in the process, it’s creating barriers to progress that people need to overcome, whether in business, personal development or life in general.
So how can people become friends with change? Here are a few suggestions:
- Create a new story. If that old story about who you are is holding you back, it’s time to create a new one. You want to create a new reality for yourself, a story where you are the hero. If you can imagine a new future, you can act on it.
- Collaborate with your mind. To create that new story, we literally need to have a conversation with our mind, telling it what we want it to do. The brain doesn’t like things that are unclear, it doesn’t like uncertainty. So if we are going to do this, as therapist and author Marisa Peer puts it, we need to make the unfamiliar familiar. Then create your new story, because once you are able to imagine a new future you can act on it. Tell your mind that it will love this new stuff, that these are great changes.
- Ignore change fatigue. I am often asked what should be done about change fatigue, which happens when people show stress, apathy and confusion because of change. I have preached that you should ignore it. People will use change fatigue as an excuse not to change. If nothing else the pandemic showed how much people can change. Not everybody, of course, but there have been some people who have risen to the occasion and who have done brilliantly. And there are others who you thought would rise to the occasion but became immobilized.
People are often better at making changes than they give themselves credit for. When you look back, it wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t have computers, we didn’t have the internet, we didn’t have i-Phones. We didn’t have anything like we have today.
Cartoonist Bill Watterson has a quote that says, "Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend." So, we’ve got to make change our friend and enjoy the journey.
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