One constant thing about life is that we will all face changes. Changes can be good or they can be bad, but even with good changes stress can still occur. For example, getting married is a huge life change; you’re suddenly living with a person you weren’t living with before the marriage. You end up moving and buying all kinds of new things for the house. Maybe you’re even buying a new house. And with that good stress comes a lot of overwhelming things: tons of paperwork, finding the new home requires a lot of open house visits, making sure it’s in a good school district, all the way down to hoping your new neighbors are pleasant to live next to.
The list of stress attached to a good life change could be a mile long. And that’s just the way it is with buying a new car, getting into a new relationship, accepting a new job and a thousand other life changes that can come with additional unwanted stress and even dread. These transitions often uproot our world, sometimes in ways we aren’t prepared for and may not want to deal with. When that happens, many people simply throw eating right, cooking their food, and exercising, right out the window. Your brain often feels more comfortable with old patterns, so new changes often lead to a more stressful state of mind.
Change creates uncertainty, and uncertainty creates stress. We all want, need, and crave the certainty, and things like buying a new house, moving to a different state, getting married and other good life changes all come with elements of uncertainty. Even when we are certain that it’s the right move for us to make, there are all kinds of uncertain events that come with the life change because there’s no way we can know what things we will face until after the life event is behind us.
Be the Best “You” When Facing Chance
Embracing change can be hard at first, but we often discover that while we resisted change in the beginning, once we move into it, we wonder why we feared it so much in the first place? Instead of going through the change with fear, try to go through it being the very best you can be, and observe what the change has to teach you. You will often find in retrospect that when life throws you a change, it’s challenging. And it’s those very challenges that cause you to become stronger and smarter once you overcome them. Another thing you will discover is that often, what we initially believe to be the worst things that happen to us can become the best thing that ever happened to us. And just knowing that correlation exists can do a lot to reduce the stress that normally comes with life changes.
At the beginning of each year I love to ask my friends three questions:
1. What’s the worst thing that happened to you last year?
2. What’s the best thing that happened to you last year?
3. What do you hope to have happen to you this new year?
These three questions allow me to get a quick summary of what has been going on in that person’s life over the last 12 months. What I find most fascinating is that in a very large majority of the answers I listen to the worst thing that happened to that person often turns out to also be the best thing that happened to them. For example, when I ask questions one and two, I often hear things like this; “the worst thing is I got divorced. The best thing is because I got divorced and I met the love of my life.” Or something along the lines of, “the worst thing is I lost my job. The best thing is I got an amazing new job that I love and also pays more money.”
Since we tend to experience the most growth going through changes, what would your world be like if you embraced that change instead of fighting and resisting it? Clearly your life would be filled with far less stress and more joy.
Several years ago, I was in a plane crash. I broke my lower back; neck and the seatbelt tore up my insides so badly I had to have colon re-sectioning surgery where they removed over 15 inches of my colon. I had to have numerous back surgeries, went through years of rehab and indescribable pain. I can say with all honesty that my plane crash was the worst thing that ever happened to me. And yet, it was also the best thing that ever happened to me! How is that possible you wonder? I was a passenger in a single-engine plane that crashed in the mountains of Sonora Mexico, 120 miles from the nearest city. I had head injuries and lost my short-term memory for a little over a year. I also came down with depression and a severe case of PTSD that lasted for years. It took a lot of surgeries, therapy and time to fully recover.
How a Plane Crash is the Best Thing that Happened to Me?
So why was it the best thing that ever happened to me? Looking back on it, the crash was horrible, but if that event had never happened then I would have never asked myself the deeper questions about my life that caused my life to radically change for the better. The last thing I said to myself before we smashed into the earth was, “wow, so this is the way my life is going to end?” I was 100% sure I was going to die. And nothing can be more fear invoking that the realization of your own death. When I came too, I was astonished that I survived and with that was being given a second chance to live my life anew. After I recovered from the crash, it caused me to ask the deeper questions about my life that I would have never thought to ask. The first question was, “is my life the way I want it to be? The answer to that question was no! The second question I asked myself was “what do I need to do to make it so?” And those two questions caused me to make a lot of changes to my life which literally changed everything for the better. And because of this awful event, my life today is amazing and I can say with absolute honesty that I am living my best life as a result of that event.
4 Ways of Coping with Stress that Accompany Life Changes
1. Learn From Change
Understand that it will be an opportunity to learn new things, to grow, and that while going through it might feel uncomfortable, once beyond it you’ll be glad you did it.
2. Lose Your Fear of Change
Name one time in your life when you didn’t make it? The fact is, you always make it! Your life is filled with example after example with the fact that you’ve always landed on your feet. So, what would your life be like if going forward to lose your fear of change and challenges? Wouldn’t there be far less stress if you go through your next challenge knowing that you’ll be just fine after it’s all over? Some call it faith, I call it “the truth.” All of the bad events that have happened throughout my over 60 years of life have turned out to be responsible for me becoming the person I am today; changes can help you grow too!
3. Respond to Uncertainty
Instead of reacting to uncertainty try responding to it. There’s a big difference between reacting and responding. When you react, you’re in an emotional state of mind, which blows the things you face out of proportion and makes them last a lot longer. When you respond to a change you are choosing to remain in the logical side of your brain which reduces emotional reactions. So how do I respond to uncertainty? For me, “uncertainly simply means I don’t know the future, it doesn’t mean the future is bad.”
4. Frustration Stems from Unmet Expectations
Recognize that all human frustration is rooted in one thing, and one thing only; it stems from an unmet expectation. For example, if you expect a raise, but don’t get one, you’ll be frustrated. If you expect to get the job, but you don’t, you’ll experience frustration. Therefore, when a life change occurs, I don’t place any expectations on the outcome, I make the best decisions I possibly can at the time of the change and allow the change to reveal its outcome to me along the way.
Life changes are sometimes uncontrollable, but your response is not. Embrace changes and look for the best in them, even when it’s uncomfortable. You’ll grow more, and you will be happier, too.
If you need extra motivation and desire extra help in attaining your goals, you may benefit from having a personal one-on-one coach. We offer one-on-one nutritional coaching through my Lean Body Coaching, which you can learn more about on www.leanbodycoaching.com.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.