Do you hate change?

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I hear it all the time. “Change is hard.”

I have to disagree.

Personally, I think that if we look for examples of change being hard and difficult, we’ll find them. Negative experiences tend to stand out in our memories because our brains are hardwired to protect us. Our brains are designed to help us avoid danger and pain.

Although this mechanism protects us, it can work against us, too. For example, have you ever dismissed a compliment that someone gave you, but worried for days over one negative remark? Or maybe you have taken a test and spent more time upset with yourself over the one or two answers you got wrong than feeling pleased with the many answers you got right.

Bad times stand out. So do excellent ones, but we don’t usually think of them as changes.

Change gets a bad rap

When things change, we often get new problems to solve. But not always.

The truth is, change can be easy and magical.

Take a moment right now to remember a time when you had an “Aha!” moment… or a moment of bliss or awe… a time when you laughed… a time when you accomplished something you were proud of…

Those were moments of change.

An ocean is nothing but change, and people flock to the beach to walk along that ceaselessly changing seashore. Vacations exist solely for people to make a change: wake up in a different bed, eat different food, listen to different music. People decide to try new restaurants for a change. They decide to get a new shirt or shoes or lipstick for a change.

I’m not here to tell you that things shouldn’t bother you or that you should be happy all the time. If you’re going through a rough time and feel trapped–and want to change that–there are some techniques that can help.

What does “Change is hard” really mean?

I think people say, “Change is hard” as a shortcut for a variety of possible messages they want to express: empathy, reassurance, encouragement, etc.. It might translate as

  • Trust yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. Anyone going through what you are would be having a hard time. What you’re feeling is normal.
  • You’re not alone. I hear that you’re struggling, and I want to be there for you.
  • This is temporary. It will get better. You will get better. Remember that the payoff will be worth it.
  • Stop complaining; I’ve got problems of my own. (Hey, I know it’s not fun, but sometimes people simply don’t have the bandwidth to listen.)

There is research that shows when we name our feelings, we can lower their intensity. When we get more clear about what we really mean, we open up new possibilities.

How to avoid the pitfalls

The problem with saying, “Change is hard,” is that it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we say it enough, we can develop a knee-jerk reaction to change: avoid it! When we avoid change, we limit our ability to deal with it and making it harder to bounce back.

Here are some of the phrases I use to replace, “Change is hard.”

  • I didn’t realize that I was going to have to do so much right now.
  • I don’t feel prepared for this.
  • I underestimated the time and resources I was going to need to cope.
  • I don’t know what I should do next. Or even right now!
  • I’m exhausted. I wish I could just walk away and make it stop.

Who’s in control?

Notice the “I” language. If I own it, I can fix it. If the problem is out there somewhere, I have no control. Also, notice how there are seeds of solutions inside the new statements. This automatically helps with stress management.

Digging out the power statements hiding inside the the problems is similar to the exercise of making a list of complaints (what you don’t want) and then looking for the opposite of the complaint to narrow down what you do want.

So what are some of the possible power statements hiding inside frustration?

  • I didn’t realize how much I was going to have to learn or do right now.
    Power statement: I’m going to focus on one small step at a time.
  • I don’t feel prepared for this problem.
    Power statement: I’m going to learn what I need to know.
  • I underestimated the time and resources was going to need for this.
    Power statement: I’m going to make adjustments so my expectations are more realistic and manageable.
  • I don’t know what I should do next. Or even right now!
    Power statement: I’m going to ask for help from someone who knows more about this kind of thing.
  • I’m exhausted. I wish I could just walk away and make it stop.
    Power statement: I’m going to take the break I need to come back refreshed and strong. Or I’m going to push through for the next little while and see if I get a second wind.

Why it matters

Does this mean that life is all puppies and kittens? No! Of course not.

Does this mean some stuff is not really, really, really bad? Again, no.

Life moves. With movement comes divorce, death, remodeling, cancer, job loss, moving, bullies, auto wrecks, earthquakes, floods, landslides, wildfires, ice storms, dementia… you name it.

When we refer to “change” by naming the specific problem we’re battling at the moment, we make it a little easier to deal with and a little less painful. We put our attention on what we are in control of and can change. We are also training the brain to be more open to the possibility of good changes.

After all, a solution is also a change.

If you’re tired of trying to get everything figured out in the midst of chaos, schedule a free strategy call, and let’s talk about how hypnosis can help lower your stress.

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