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How to Navigate Unexpected Change

How to Navigate Unexpected Change

When we talk about change we often refer to something we self-initiate to make our lives better or to push us further toward out goals. but what do we do when change hits us from behind. 

I laugh because I have experienced this literally. Several years ago, I was sitting on the bay bridge waiting to go through the toll and I was rear ended by another car and let’s just say it wasn’t a fender bender. This incident took less than 6 seconds and left me with lower back pain that I still deal with today.

This is just one example but life is full of those experiences we may not have seen coming or that entered our lives uninvited leaving us scrambling to dive into a new reality we didn’t ask for and likely weren’t expecting.

These changes can come in the form of a diagnosis, relationship change, lifestyle shift in response to a health concern, a loss of a job, the list is endless.

Whatever it is, the way you cope with these circumstances from the onset can either set you up for success or send you down a rabbit hole that can be very tough to get out of.

I personally like to think of these times - as an opportunity to test how fully engaged I am in my life. Good or bad, it forces me to dig deeper and find more strength, flexibility and courage – to find a light in an otherwise dim and foggy situation and to determine the best next steps -- regardless of how little I know about the potential outcome.

So I wanted to discuss a few things to keep in mind when you find yourself on the receiving end of the unexpected.

Recognize your Circle of Influence: 

Your Circle of Influence involves the things that you can directly influence or have control over in your life. These are actions you can take, attitudes you can adopt, or behaviors you can change that you know can affect an outcome one way or the other.

This has always hit home for me because once I was able to recognize what areas of my life I actually had control over (and those I didn’t) it helped me finally let go of those things I was holding on so tightly too- that were never going to budge.

I know I can either continue to go through the pain and frustration of trying to will something to happen, or finally let it go and in this acceptance use my energy elsewhere – which is so liberating!

When we make the decision to manage how we're going to react to any given situation it requires far less time and actually gives us back our power! More often than not, unexpected change falls outside of our circle of influence and it’s up to us to accept it as so – and refocus on the things we know we can control.

Mind your Mindset: 

Someone once said to me. “A problem is just a story” This is so true. The minute a situation comes up, we have the opportunity to pick one of two paths. We can either 1) create a story of negativity or heartache or helplessness or 2) get curious about how it has being put in your path to move you forward in your life.

I completely understand in circumstances like a health diagnosis or death of a loved one, it can feel nearly impossible to put a positive spin on, but as we have all experienced in life, even the most difficult challenges teach us a ton about ourselves and help make us stronger human beings.

This includes recognizing resistance when it shows up as well. We often want to dig our heels in especially when feeling like a victim in a situation. This includes those debates in our heads about what is fair or unfair. Thinking ‘why me” is often the beginning of a downward spiral.

So, I invite you to recognize when you’re feeling resistance or anger – to go back to concentrating on what you can actually influence in the situation. Letting go is a hard lesson but one that can save you a ton of heartache in the long run.

What you do have influence over could be – how you treat yourself during this time. Setting yourself up for success by creating rituals that support your well-being so when the stress comes, you are better able to deal with it.

Its also important to create a plan of action. When the going gets rough, it’s time to put one foot in front of the other. Having even the slightest game plan, even if it’s from one day to the next, will help you feel more engaged in the solution or roadmap to getting through any situation more successfully. 

Tap into Your Network: 

Whether it’s a support group, one on one help, online forums or calling a friend or family member, letting off steam and connecting with others can be the difference between your success and failure. 

Be sure to surround yourself with those who lift you up and encourage you to face whatever challenge you are going through with courage, resilience and grace. When we become part of a community it helps us get better at supporting others as well as accepting support for ourselves when we need it most. 

Also know that it’s OK to distance yourself from those who bring your energy down. I am here to tell you that part of self-care is keeping your own energy as well as the energy you expose yourself to, uplifting and positive. 

Take Action: 

Get yourself moving!  Movement is more critical than you know when going through any kind of challenge or change. We physically hold trauma and stress in our bodies and it needs to come up and out. Strangely enough for some of us - moving our bodies is often the last thing we think about especially when we’re in the thick of it.

A great piece of advice came from one of our past podcast guests, therapist and good friend Rebecca Boedges who said: “getting stuck is seductive and you can’t stay in this place for too long because it will stay and it will hold you.”

She shared when she was going through her grief after the loss of her child, she gave herself 10 min a day to feel hopeless and stuck. She actually set a timer! Then when the timer went off – she knew she needed to get up and move.

Regardless of how you feel about moving, the key is to just get up and do it! By making your body move with the feeling, it shifts the energy and moves you out of it over time.

These are just few simple but important things to keep in mind when navigating change that happens out of the blue. As we all know, we tend to listen to what we tell ourselves. So whatever you do, don't forget to stay positive, be kind to yourself and keep your heart open to the lesson. 

You got this.