Something that I have heard very often from the young people I work with is the difficulty understanding themselves and the changes they are noticing in themselves. The helplessness and frustration that sometimes accompanies change can be baffling to manage and understand. We are creatures of certainty and predictability and want to know what’s happening and why. When the situation around us, whether it is people or circumstances, or when aspects of ourselves shift, we feel thrown off balance and confused.
Change is inevitable. We know that. It’s not easy to accept it though. How do we deal with it then? Do we let go and let whatever has to happen? Or do we try to get back into control and try to work the situation to our advantage?
When something changes and you notice it affecting you or you notice an experience or feeling of frustration, annoyance, or discomfort visiting you, it helps to acknowledge that feeling. Asking yourself how this feeling is affecting your mood, your thoughts, and what it is doing to you right now allows some space between you and this feeling. It also may help you understand what about the change bothers you. Does it go against your hopes of yourself or your situation? Was it different from what you expected of yourself? Allowing yourself the space to reflect on this probably won’t change the situation. However, knowing why this change bothers you helps you understand what you would like to do about it.
All of us respond to change as it happens. We are not passive recipients of experiences. Our responses are a way of taking a stance towards what we want and believe. How do you respond when something happens to you? What do you do at that moment to soothe yourself? What steps do you take to help yourself through that situation? Allowing yourself the space to acknowledge the responses that you made to the situation is important.
When something goes against what we value, it tends to affect us a little bit more. The discomfort I felt when I lashed out at someone who hurt me bothered me because I feel I should not have responded that way. It bothers me because I believe that it is important to not hurt people who hurt me. However, it was my way to take a stance against an action that also went against what I value. This is just one out of infinite possibilities of perspectives.
Change is inevitable. We know that. It’s not easy to accept it though. How do we deal with it then? Do we let go and let whatever has to happen? Or do we try to get back into control and try to work the situation to our advantage? Understanding how situations affect our values allows us to understand ourselves better and also understand what we need to do about it and gives us a better perspective on those questions.