We all understand that life brings change. We go from college full-time to working full-time to switching careers. We were single and then we were coupled and then maybe single again. We have healthy parents, then aging parents, then someday they’re gone. Everything from government stability to the elasticity of our skin changes.
Many of us can get that part, whether we like the truth of it or not.
What we tend to struggle with, though, is our reaction to change. We forget that change requires change. What worked for us before may not work for us after. Unless we learn to flow with the change of tides and grow with the change of seasons, we will get stuck. Then we will get sick.
Life Throws Curveballs
Here’s a scenario:
After having your first baby, you create a new rhythm. You finally find the right nanny and figure out the ideal work schedule to flow with your new life schedule. It’s harder than it was before, sure, but you’re managing parenthood, career, friendships, housework, etc.
When baby #2 is on the way, you may think: “I’m already a parent. I’m already in #momlife or #dadlife. I already have the nanny, the work schedule, the housework schedule, the parent friends, and the baby gear. I’ve got this.”
But then you’re six months into raising this beautiful, brand new baby #2 and everything is a mess.
The perfect system you made isn’t working the same way with this baby. Naptime is no longer catch-up time because their naps never seem to coincide. The nanny charges more, so you need to work more. But you can’t seem to work more because there are double the dishes, double the doctor’s visits, double the sick days. Your spouse needs your attention, but you’ve already given your attention to your job, and to two little humans—how much more can you give?
“Is Something Wrong With Me?”
You remember how just last year you had it all together. Then you look at yourself today and ask:
- “What is wrong with me?”
- “How come I used to be able to handle this, but I just can’t anymore?”
Or maybe you ignore the mess and think “I used to be able to handle it all this way; I’ll just keep on keeping on” even as the pieces are crumbling all around you and your spouse is begging for help and your back is in spasm.
The likely answer is that there’s probably nothing wrong with you. You’re a person going through change. What was wrong is that you expected change wouldn’t change anything.
You can’t handle it all the way you used to because it is not how it used to be. You’ve become set in your ways, but the path shifted. When life brings change, we need to change. The cost if we don’t? Our sanity. Our relationships. Our peace.
Something has got to give.
We cannot expect who we were to be qualified for the job of who we will become.
So what do you do about it?
Maybe you look for a different job with more flexible hours. Maybe one parent stays home and becomes the primary caretaker. Maybe you accept more help from your family. Maybe you move into a cheaper area. Maybe you go to individual or couple’s therapy. Maybe you work on new methods of self-care, so you can adequately meet the demands of this new life season.
The specifics are individual, but the core truth is universal: change requires change.
How To Change Well
If change is a fact of life, what are some steps we can take to move through it more successfully? Here are three to start out with.
1. Accept Change
Accepting that things change doesn’t mean you have to like all the differences. It also doesn’t mean you have no power over what to do about the change. Accepting change means no longer denying the reality before you. Recognizing the truth of your situation. Only then can you do something about it.
2. Get Creative About Solutions
We rarely have as few options as we think we do. Ask yourself questions like: What could make this season of life easier? What is making this season of life harder? Get creative about solutions. Don’t get so focused on a promotion in your company that you forget to see if a job at a different company may be better.
3. Be Gentle With Yourself
Of course you don’t know how to handle this new situation. You’ve never lived it before. Sure, you can benefit from all the lessons you’ve learned prior and you can always ask for help from those who may have insight, but at the end of the day, you’re just figuring it out. Like all of us are figuring it out. Have some self-compassion.
In the midst of a change? Learning about The Stages of Change can be helpful.
- Healing Card Deck: A Therapist’s Advice 55-Card Healing Deck by Sara Cloostermans
- Book Recommendation: Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
- Mantra: I AM FLEXIBILITY // repeat with diaphragmatic breathing
- Yin Yoga Asana: Cat Pulling Its Tail Pose
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