In a previous post I outlined a proven process for embracing change while at the same time being a force for good in the world – http://pamela-thompson.com/strengthen-impact-world-dance-change/. In this article we will take a deep dive into the first step in this 5-step process: Shine the Light.

In step one of the Art of Change Framework we explore how you respond to change and why.

Reflecting on how you’ve responded to previous changes in your life will provide you with clues as to how you will respond to integrating new beliefs and behaviors into your life, and changing old beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.

A good place to start is to answer the question How do I typically respond to change on a scale from 1 to 10; 1 being “I thrive on it” and 10 being “It scares me to death”?

Another useful exercise is to reflect on past experiences with life changes and answer the question What have I learned that supports me to adapt and move forward when faced with change? 

Barriers to Change/Moving Forward 

A number of barriers to change have been identified in the literature including: becoming paralyzed by fear, procrastinating, blaming others, believing we can’t do something or are not worthy, always focusing on problems rather than solutions, getting stuck in old habits or denying change is happening, and not being willing to put in the effort required to make a change. It’s helpful to think about a change that has been recently imposed on you or was in the past. How do you feel about this change? What barriers do you have to embracing it? I invite you to take a few minutes to jot down your responses to these questions.

Overcoming Resistance to Change

M.J. Ryan in her book “Adaptability – How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask for” (2009) notes that the ability to adapt is “the key indicator of success in these turbulent times. It’s the capacity to be flexible and resourceful in the face of ever-changing conditions.”

Aikido masters say that to be successful in life three types of mastery are needed: i) mastery with self; ii) mastery with others; and iii) mastery with change; meaning “the capacity to adapt easily without losing our center – our values, talents and sense of purpose” (Ryan, 2009). How can we learn to be change masters?

How can we learn to recover quickly from change and be adaptable so that when changes are “forced upon us” (e.g. a job loss) or we choose to make a change, we view it as an opportunity rather than a challenge?

There are a number of studies and tools in the literature that provide us with a better understanding of change and how to navigate it successfully.

Maddi and Kobassa (2005) in their book Resilience at Work: How to Succeed No Matter What Life Throws You analyzed data from 400 studies on organizational change and also conducted their own study of AT & T executives during reorganization. They found that those who thrived the most while undergoing organizational change displayed 3Cs: i) Challenge; ii) Control; and iii) Commitment. Challenge – meaning they saw change as an opportunity to learn and grow and were optimistic about the future. Control – meaning they believed that they had choices and could influence their lives and events around them. Rather than worrying about things they could not control, they focused on identifying what they could control and took action on those things. Commitment – meaning they lived their lives passionately and stayed connected to people even when times got tough.

Tips for Overcoming Resistance to Change and Moving Forward 

  1. Change your perspective – View change as an opportunity for self-growth and learning; an opportunity to explore new solutions and ways of doing things; to put on a new “pair of glasses” and see the world differently.
  2. Slow down and go inside yourself – create some time and space for yourself rather than keeping yourself busy. Set aside time in your schedule for you. Spend at least 30 minutes a day meditating, journaling, walking in nature.
  3. Get in touch with and acknowledge your feelings rather that pushing them down and not experiencing them; this is important to begin the process of healing from the inside out.
  4. Express those feelings through drawing, journaling, painting, dancing, etc.
  5. Express Gratitude regularly – Create a gratitude journal or write down at least 5 things you are grateful for each morning or evening. Research shows that people who express appreciation and gratitude on a regular basis are more optimistic and lead happier lives.
  6. Believe in Yourself – think of all the positive things you’ve done and accomplished in the past. Recall a particular time you felt really proud of what you’d done and reconnect with the positive feelings you felt at that time.
  7. Nurture and Take Care of Yourself – make sure you are eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly; do something special for yourself such as going for a massage, having a bubble bath, buying a new outfit.
  8. Reach out for support – to a friend, coach or counsellor; surround yourself with people who believe in you and are not judgmental.
  9. Identify the things you can control when you’re going through change such as your thoughts, stories, and language. (from Ariane de Bonvoisin, The First 30 days)

Parting Thoughts  

The more you understand change and the more self-aware you are about how and why you respond to it, the more easily you can embrace and move through it. This has a huge positive impact on both your personal and professional life and your ability to positively influence others.

I invite you to share your thoughts and perspectives below on any part of this article. Feel free to share it with others.

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