Managing Change and Anxiety

Why are so many of us resistant to change?
It is human nature for us to want things to stay the same because we get comfortable with our routines, relationships and beliefs. In fact the more things change the more we want them to stay the way they are.

Resisting change is a bit like practicing non-acceptance. When we do not accept the changes going on within ourselves, with our family, friends, colleagues and circumstances there is a friction that develops within us and between us. We tend to lash out at things we don’t accept and can criticise others and complain about our circumstances to the point that this resistance disturbs our internal and external harmony.

When we practice acceptance it is far easier to understand ourselves and people for who they are, what they believe in and the circumstances we are experiencing in the present moment. This present mind awareness, tolerance and going with the flow of life releases positive energy inside us and makes it far easier to adapt to and even initiate change which enriches and encourages us to move forward in a world beset with change.

Can we overcome the fear and anxiety that change brings with it?
Often change will cause us to be fearful and anxious. Anxiety is a low-level form of fear that can either be temporary or in the worst-case scenario, can become a clinical condition like depression which may require therapy or medication. Common variety anxiety however, which comes and goes, is often brought on by worry and this worry could have its roots in change. We could be experiencing changes to our finances, our relationships or even our career which creates worry.

Negative thoughts like, “Will I have enough money to pay my rent in three months’ time?”, “Will I be good enough?”, “Will I make it on time?”, are all worries that occasionally enter into our consciousness in some form or another. The concern is when this type of worry becomes a habit and causes one to be anxious most of the time.

Chronic worriers think that they are solving their problems by worrying but are actually creating a psychological environment which stops them from thinking creatively and critically to solve problems in an agile way. Like other negative emotions including stress, cynicism and pessimism, worry and anxiety produce inhibitors in the brain which stop the easy flow of messages between brain cells making it far more difficult to learn and be flexible in our thinking. The worry cycle goes around and around in an endless loop of low-grade melodrama and rather than being helpful actually makes matters worse for us.

One of the best ways to counteract the negative impact of worrying is to catch the worry at its inception before it escalates into full blown anxiety and challenge it with an alternative plausible viewpoint. After interrogating the worry objectively and providing this alternative viewpoint we are able to step back from it, think clearly and make a decision which allows us to move forward in an intelligent and constructive way.

Another way of dealing with anxiety even when you feel you are in the midst of a storm, is to close your eyes and breathe deeply. Then imagine you are in a secret garden, walking in a forest or even lying on top of a cloud, whichever works best for you. Your “secret garden” could be a place where you experienced a deeply serene moment, a moment where you felt content and whole and one with nature. It could be a time you spent strolling on a beautiful beach with the sun bouncing off your skin and you felt carefree and jubilant. When we allow our minds to melt away into this wonderland of contentment and freedom we open the door for neurotransmitters to oil the cogs of transmission between our brain cells releasing the “good fuel” chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin to flood our system which makes us feel good and think with more clarity and flexibility.

What are the benefits of embracing change?
When we practice acceptance and release the energy within in us to cope with change, we can employ the right tactics and mindset required to quieten down our worrying thoughts. By reducing our feelings of anxiety we are far more able to enjoy the journey that change presents to us.

Make no error, change is most often difficult, it takes time to implement and it is often costly. Also, people inevitably respond emotionally to change. At first we deny the change is required, then we object to it, then we adapt to it, and finally, we commit to the change. Then, also inevitably, we are faced with a new change and the cycle repeats itself. The key is to reduce the time it takes to go through the emotions of change so that we can respond in a more agile and accepting way. When we do this and develop a positive mindset around change, we are more likely to benefit from it because our minds are open to the opportunities that change brings with it.