David Bowie (1947 – 2016) was a British singer, songwriter, and actor. In his hit song from 1972, Bowie sings, “Ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange. Ch-ch-changes, just gonna have to be a different man.” Bowie was known for his chameleonic personality, always changing his looks and musical style. But the timeless lyrics of Ch-Ch-Changes represent a rallying cry or a call-to-action for people in the world of COVID-19.
Why is coping with change so difficult? Let’s begin with the realization that how we feel about change is a psychological experience. In other words, if you feel bad about change, those feelings are in your head, and with effort, you can do something about it.
Change brings on a wide range of uncomfortable feelings. We want to be happy and safe in our comfort zone. We don’t like it when circumstances push us away from the comfortable to something new. If forced too hard or too quickly, we get angry, frustrated, argumentative, and sad. Try to realize that everyone is affected, some more than others. People you know who seem to exhibit strength may be themselves grappling with the same issues as you.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter is the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business at Harvard Business School. She is also the director and chair of the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative. She writes that change brings on feelings that we are losing control, and your sense of self-determination is easily compromised.
Heraclitus was a Greek philosopher from 500 BCE is best known for his doctrines that things are continually changing. He said, “You cannot step into the same river twice, for other waters are continually flowing on.”
Denial or rationalism are defense mechanisms, constructs used in psychology to describe how people cope with reality. Denial is a way for people to defend themselves against anxiety. But denial is considered to be maladaptive, which doesn’t help the person deal with their feelings related to the change at hand. It only makes things worse.
You must understand that we are on an emotional journey to get to a better place, even if we don’t know where that is yet. You cannot fall into a world of denial, hoping for things “to get back to normal.” Time spent in denial only delays your new and better future.
You must be proactive in your search for the solution to relieve your stress. If you continue to hang around with other sad and hopeless people, you may fall into the trap of confirmation bias, where the anxiety of others confirms your anxiety. When you are under the influence of confirmation bias, you could overlook a beautiful solution that is right before your very eyes.
Consider backing away from social media. Your circle of social media is a confirmation bias trap.
The one constant in life is change. That doesn’t mean we have to like it, but we must find a way to adapt and move forward.
Start by acknowledging your situation is changing. Keep in mind; you are not alone. Try to stick to your routine even if you feel you are just mindlessly going through the motions. Eat healthy foods. Comfort food may make you feel good today, but you’ll regret the extra weight tomorrow.
It is okay to reach out for support. There is no heroism gutting it out. You have friends that care about you and want to help. Don’t be embarrassed to seek professional help.
Become proactive, not reactive. Take control of change by making decisions to act now. Seek out support groups online or make an appointment with a professional. Start a journal of the positives in your life and be thankful for what you have. There is a Persian proverb that reads, “I used to complain I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”
Pick up a new book. If you are in sales, I recommend Virtual Selling by Jeb Blount. This book may help you overcome some of the anxiety you are experiencing in the new work-from-home environment.
The most difficult changes to understand and adjust to are unexpected changes like we see today. But your experience can be made better or worse, depending on your reaction and your attitude.
Best wishes always. Talk to you soon.
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