Change is a fact of life. Relationships begin and end, and so do jobs. You’ll move from one home to another and maybe to a new city, country, or continent. Sometimes change is due to choice and sometimes it blindsides you in the worst kind of way. You just can’t avoid change, but you can learn to be more adaptable so you can handle it when it comes around. There are plenty of techniques you can use to better cope with change, and there are sure to be at least a few that work for you.
Do something that makes you feel comfortable.
When you’re facing a change that makes you feel nervous or uneasy, do something that makes you feel comfortable, even just for a little while. It could be going out for dinner, working out, or curling up in bed; everyone has some place or some activity that makes them feel safer or happier or somehow better in one way or another. Whatever comforts you, do it. It can be a way to calm yourself for a little while to get yourself ready to think about what’s changing and what you can do to better work through it or it can be an opportunity to feel safe while you do your thinking. Don’t use this to avoid addressing the discomfort you’re feeling though; the idea is to comfort yourself for a short while so that you can better cope with the change, not so that you can ignore it. So make yourself feel safe and comfortable and then work on accepting the situation at hand.
Talk to yourself.
Self-talk is another great method too, and can be used to help you adapt better to just about any situation you’re thrown into. You could also turn to someone you trust to talk to and to help you get through the difficult change you’re experiencing, but if you don’t have anyone around or would rather work through it on your own, you can always talk to yourself. No, it doesn’t have to be out loud—just internal chatter. Tell yourself that everything is going to be okay and it’ll all work out. Tell yourself that you’re strong and you can handle whatever life puts in your path. Depending on the change, you might also tell yourself that it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, even if it doesn’t feel that way in the moment. Figure out whatever you need to hear to feel better about the situation and what will help you move toward acceptance and tell it to yourself. Self-talk is a powerful tool and it’s easy to use it at any time.
Try to stay positive.
Try not to give in to catastrophic thinking and avoid complaining about whatever is changing. Whining about changes you don’t like can get you stuck seeing the situation negatively and make it difficult for you to adapt. It can also lead you to complain more and more, digging up new reasons to be miserable and leading you into a mindset that sees the whole thing as absolutely unacceptable. This isn’t going to help you in any way; in most cases, hating an experience is only going to keep you from feeling happy and isn’t going to change the things you don’t like. So do your best to stay positive. Look for anything that’s good about your circumstances, even just one thing to start, and focus on it. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones will help you significantly.
Consider the future.
And consider the future, not just the present. When first faced with a major change, it can be really upsetting and throw you into a tailspin. You might not know what to think and your fears surrounding the situation can be overwhelming. But usually when this happens, it’s because you’re concerned with your immediate future—what today, tomorrow, or next week will be like. Shift your focus to next year or a few years from now; maybe losing your job will lead you to something better for you and you’ll build a new career that you find more fulfilling and offers you more financial security; maybe breaking up with your partner will give you the independence and freedom you needed to chase your dreams. As bad as change can feel when it’s new, it could actually have benefits that you can’t see yet or even be a turning point toward greatness. So try to think about what good could be in your future and you’ll find it easier to see the positives in the situation and adapt to it.
Look at things objectively.
Switching to an objective mindset is helpful too. When you can see the circumstances you’re struggling with from a different perspective, it can seem less scary and make it easier for you to adjust to. Disconnecting your feelings from it and looking at it impersonally, observing it without considering your involvement in the situation, can help you see that there are positives there and that the perceived negatives can be overcome. When you’re too intimately involved, it’s all too easy to get upset or worried; distancing yourself for a little while can be just what you need to move past that initial fear and into acceptance. Keep in mind that just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s wrong—in many cases, it’s just life, and you can adapt to it better if you learn to see it this way.
As you can probably tell at this point, the way you think can make adapting easy for you or near impossible. You can choose to think in a way that makes things seem not so bad, in a way that focuses on the bright side, or you could even choose to think big. While positive thinking can be a good way to cope, you can also use it to thrive. Don’t ignore your concerns, fears, and doubts about your circumstances, but instead ask yourself what exactly they are and why you feel the way you do. Figuring out what’s upsetting you about the circumstances you’re in can reveal limiting beliefs you have about yourself. You can then work on eliminating those beliefs and start seeing the potential the situation has for you to grow. How can you use this change to become a better, more successful, happier person? How can you learn from it? Let go of your limitations and imagine how your experience can drive you to do bigger, more amazing things. You’ll feel motivated, and that can be enough to help you adapt and move forward when you’re in the midst of a major change.
Make new plans.
Even once you’ve gotten some of your thoughts sorted out, the situation at hand might still be difficult to wrap your head around. Change can create uncertainty and doing something to create certainty is a good way to combat that. Start making plans; figure out what you can do that would make the situation you’re in more tolerable or easier for you to accept. If you’ve had to move because of a problem with your old apartment, make a list of things you want to do to your new place to make it feel more like home; if you’re moving away from your family, make plans to call or chat at a set time every week. There’s always something you can do to make change easier to adapt to, and planning out what you’re going to do can give you a sense of ease and comfort.
Don’t wait to work on acceptance.
Whatever you’re going to do to help you adapt, whether it’s trying to change your view or actively trying to make yourself more comfortable, don’t wait to do it. Wallowing in frustration, anger, or depression is only going to make you feel awful and prolong the process of moving through the difficult time and on with your life. So take a little time to get upset if you feel you need to get it out of your system, but don’t hold onto it—get on with whatever you’re going to do to help you adjust. The faster you can bring yourself to work through your feelings, the faster you’ll feel better. There’s so much potentially ahead of you: happiness, love, adventure, success, and anything else you choose to pursue. But if you resist change and refuse to accept your new circumstances, you could be holding yourself back from experiencing those things. You can adapt, but you have to choose to move forward instead of hanging back.
So much of adaptation is rooted in acceptance: the acceptance of the situation you’re in, of the experience you’re having, and of what new things might come as a result of change. It’s natural to feel uneasy about change, especially when it’s unexpected, but you can become the kind of person who adapts well by taking advantage of some of these suggestions. Whether you’re facing an unexpected and unwelcome change or have made some choices that will soon put you in unfamiliar territory, you can use these suggestions to help you adjust and find happiness in your new life.