How to Appreciate the Process of Change

And last in our conscious 3-part series of change, are some really encouraging and helpful thoughts from my wonderful friend, Kate. I’m sure it’s not the last we’ll hear of this subject, since it is after all, an ongoing process.

Change is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get (AND it’s a little scary taking the first bite). Seriously, let’s face it, change can be scary – it offers little guarantee of ease or “success” but it DOES deliver on the promise of DIFFERENT. So, if it’s different you seek then change may be right up your ally – but most of us want “different” with a money back guarantee that it’s better than before. Alas, we are offered no such solace. Another irritating but indisputable fact about change is that sometimes it comes whether we like it or not. Our kids grow, our bodies shift, we experience loss, we get fired or promoted, we cross the threshold into parenthood, and we may even hear ourselves repeating lines from our parents we vowed never to repeat…etc. etc. How does this happen? You cannot always control change, but you can be an active and engaged participant in your life’s changes – even the ones you don’t see coming — and you can soothe yourselves in knowing a few universal truths about it… so, here goes…

Change is difficult. There is no such thing as “cheap change” – major changes (and often minor ones too) generally come with some challenge, doubt, effort, and struggle. Even the changes we are most excited about may at times leave us wondering “WHY did I want to do this again?!” So, if it feels hard, take solace in knowing you’re in good company and that it’s doesn’t stay hard forever. The work and effort and is part of what helps you move forward.

Change is a process not an event. Although our decisions to change may feel like an instant in time, the process before and after this moment are critical and can take time. Generally speaking, we have to first be aware of need or want to change and then think about the pros/cons of the possibilities, then prepare for it and then do it and then maintain it. Whew. That can be a lot. The reason this knowledge can be liberating is – hey, give yourself a break if you’re not leaping into major changes – it can be a healthy part of your process to work through it – ALSO when our kids, spouse, co-workers etc. seem resistant – bear in mind that they are working on the process of change too. Be realistic. Change is rarely quick – especially if you’re seeking long-term change.

There are things we can do to help us make change in our lives. Yeah! People often rely to heavily on willpower – “If I’m strong enough I can do this!” “Other moms can ‘do it all’ so I will too!” Willpower or commitment for change is a great asset but it alone often cannot carry the burden of all the work of change. Take advantage of all the tools you can to support you through life’s change, such as:

a. Don’t go it alone! Access supportive people in your life to help you through your life’s changes – talk with them, share your concerns and goals, enlist their help and support and ask for what you need.
b. Consider alternatives – give yourself a plan A, B and even C if you can. Rehearse in your mind (and maybe with your awesome helpers you’ve enlisted above) how you will handle tough situations. Prepare.
c. Get your facts. Knowledge from books, internet, friends, co-workers etc. can be both motivating and informative for the changes you wish to make.
d. Reward yourself. Be sure to build in lots of kudos and reward as you walk the path of change. Don’t just want until you hit your final change target – but give yourself lots of positive reinforcement along the way (ask your helpers to do this as well – see, I told you they would come in really handy!)
e. Avoid negative triggers — if there are people, places and times that make it hard for you to forge ahead toward positive change – try to avoid them if you can.
f. Think motivating thoughts. The mind is a powerful thing – use it to help you stay motivated and strong as you work toward change. For example, create mental or tangible images of things you wish to avoid or change as well those things you are hoping to gain or achieve with change. Find positive mantras for yourself – and positive images of the person you wish to become.
g. Believe it! All people have the power to make positive changes in their lives. You can too! Your belief in your own ability to change, including complex change, unexpected change, and hard change will carry you further than you think. You can do it!!

A parting thought on change that helps me through rough patches in life is that I will forever possess the power to change. And I can use it anytime I want. It need not be something thrust upon me that I resist and fight and succumb to – instead, I like to see it as a great opportunity and power that is mine. It’s a golden ticket with my name on it. Where will it take me today?

Seize your power. Trust in yourself. Muscle through the process and enjoy the thrill of “different” of your own creating.

Footnote: Much of these change concepts come from the research of James Prochaska, John Norcross and Carolo DiClemente — if you’re interested in more, you can check them out online or see their book Changing for Good.

Kate Calhoon
, PsyD is a therapist in the Denver and Colorado Springs area as well as the proud mother of two rambunctious little boys

Related Articles: How to Embrace Change, How to Take Charge of Your Destiny, How to Make Changes that Stick

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.

Comments

  1. Great article on change and acceptance of the process. So many of us are caught up in the ‘why me’ or ‘omg’ part of the change we forget that we have a say. Even if that say is how we react to the change.

    Another thing brought up nicely in the article is that change rarely affects us alone. Often our immediate family, our friends, and sometimes coworkers are drawn in with us. They too are going to struggle and possibly feel very frustrated during the change.

    Thanks.

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  2. Thanks for the comment, Todd. You are absolutely right about the fact that changes tend to have a ripple effect. It certainly affects those close to us but there might be effects that we are not even aware of. What I have come to experience and learn is that in some rationally unexplainable way, we are all connected. So the way that one person’s changes affect another are somehow the lessons that the other is also meant to learn.

    In my other post on How to Overcome Fear, I mentioned that Coelho says that this exact fear… of how our actions will affect those around us, is a big reason why people don’t go after their dreams. I can see how one would struggle with changing one’s life in some way, because of it’s unknown effects on others. But ALL outcomes are unknown. If you choose NOT to change out of fear, how do you know that this isn’t what will create the least desired outcome… for you AND for those you love?

    It’s midnight. Maybe I’m not making any sense!

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