Sometimes life confronts us in ways we don’t think we need, but with a little persistence and faith we can usually turn them into positives. I’m pretty certain that a goldfish would not enjoy swimming in a sea of wild-berry Jell-O, (mandarin orange, maybe, if the goldfish was perverse…). Colorful, yes, conducive to survival, no.
The saying “sometimes chickens, sometimes feathers” means the odds are against us winning all the time. Part of life’s irony is that our expectations are frequently challenged in ways that can potentially provide unexpected outcomes. If the universe didn’t work this way, then everyone would live like royalty without strife or suffering. But resiliency is part of our human abilities and thus we usually have the fortitude to bounce back from adversity or accept (and learn from) our failings and move on.
Change is something we have to deal with that can be difficult. Some of us deal with change well, so long as change is personally controlled or instigated. Others seem more flexible and able to deal well with change no matter the challenge. I’ll confess I fall into the first category: smooth acceptance when in control, but otherwise a challenge adjusting to outside change. Growing up in a military family and moving every few years probably conditioned me for change more than most people, but also instilled in me a certain nomadic tendency (which I have to guard against lest I get itchy to change just for change’s sake).
Unlike the poor goldfish which had no options, accepting change requires a lot of trust and faith, both in yourself and in those causing the change. We’ve all have events through the years when we’re asked to change from a comfortable environment, perform tasks in a different way, or alter our personas because someone else thought we should. There’s an old axiom in marriage that men want their wives to stay the way they were when first married, while women look to change men over time. While I won’t defend either approach, it’s more evidence that change in our lives is sometimes as ubiquitous as the very air we breath. You could even postulate that our lives are a moving, constant sea of change.
Managing change well depends on each person’s personality. But we are creatures of free will, so in a ultimate sense we all have final say whether any change is acceptable or not. If you live in a democratic part of the world, you do have final say whether to accept imposed change. Granted the outcome, if you don’t accept, may not be pleasant but you still have the fundamental choice.
If you’re confronted with serious change, you can turn to your journal for reflective writing to work through to change acceptance. Writing down a list of the pros then the cons of the change can help flush out hidden issues. Getting thoughts out in the open can bring clarity to issues while removing the emotional, first-reaction syndrome that may be clouding the decision-making part of your thinking. Sometimes using a decision matrix can also help, particularly if the change imposed has options to consider. A decision matrix is a grid that lists points or important aspects down the left side, and rates each one using columns along the right labeled from 1 to 5 (or whatever scale you want to use). At the end of the exercise you’ll have a score that may help you decide which way to go. While decision matrixes are great for choice issues, such as buying a house or accepting an assignment (as opposed to being told to move), they are useful for change issues as well.
I know people who relish change, who love nothing more than to have their lives a constantly moving experience. These types don’t exist well unless their lives are constantly turning over, as though the kinetic sensations feed their souls. Other people I know are so rigid that if the newsboy tosses the paper on the lawn one morning instead of the driveway, it sends them into a blue funk dealing with the ripple in their routine. Whichever type you are, take a deep breath when confronted with uncomfortable change then get your thoughts out there past your emotions. Who knows, you might even enjoy the change and prosper from the opportunity. And if you’re cooperative, you may even get to choose your Jell-O flavor. Make mine purple passion, please.