Nothing is as painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change- Mary Shelly, Frankenstein
To say goodbye is to die a little – Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye
Change does not come easy to many, and yet, change will always happen. Resistance to change is one of the major causes of psychological disturbance in men and yet, change is the only constant in life.
When you are more open to change, the less life events distress you. Stephen Covey discusses this in his book, The 7 habits of highly effective people where he encourages us to be proactive and rather than complain because of the way things are, learn ways we can change ourselves before we even change those who are around us.
How can you become more adaptive and open to change?
Open up your mind
“If we hold onto our own ideas of how things should be rather than accepting how they really are, we arise conflict in ourselves in the form of defensiveness- Carl Rogers.
One way that you can be more open to change and be ready to accommodate change is open up your mind. If you hold onto an idea of how things should be, and not have an open mind that things could be different, you are very likely to be highly bothered when things change.
As Carl Rogers says, when we hold on tightly to our own ideas of how thing should be, we refuse to open up our minds that things could change. As a result, we are highly conflicted when change happens since we hold so high and even become defensive of possible changes.
Opening up our minds that things could change makes us more adaptive and open to change.
Change your attitude
The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude towards the problem –Captain Jack Sparrow
How we perceive things is how things affect us. If we view a certain form of change is a problem, then it will prove itself as a problem for us.
By changing your attitude, and how you perceive events and the changes in events, you influence how the event affects you.
“Men are not disturbed by events, but by the views which they take them”- Epictetus
Expose yourself to new experiences
One advice I give to younger people is to open themselves to new experiences. People in their 20s, for example, should be open to new experiences.
This means being open to going to new places, to take up different jobs, read different kinds of books. They need to do this to meet new people and open their eyes and ears and learn from others. When we stay in the cocoon of our world, we tend to think that things should be a certain way.
We hold onto the way our families, society or religion has taught up such that we don’t open ourselves to learn from the experiences of others. However, the moment we open ourselves up to the experiences of others, we learn that there is a new world outside of others.
This makes us more adaptive and open to change since we realize that there is more than our world and that being different is good.
Unlearn some teachings
Our families and societies contribute to making the person we are today, but this does not mean that all the things we learned growing up are right. Society and even families can be wrong in so many things.
In order to be more adaptive and open to change, you must unlearn some things. For example, your family and society may have taught you negative things about people who are different from you whether it’s in race, culture or ethnicity.
As a result, you have carried this around such that you can’t date people from this different group, or you are hostile to them at work, you can’t be friends with them.
Therefore a change that is brought about by these people being in your life really affects you. You can unlearn some of these teachings and be more open-minded and accommodating to change involving these areas.
Understand yourself, accept yourself, and transform yourself
You will never know what you need to be more adaptive and open to change until you become self-aware well enough to acknowledge that indeed, you have a problem with change.
Self-awareness leads to self-acceptance and it is after you have accepted yourself that you can change yourself. Take some self-awareness exercises and dig deep within to understand if you indeed, you are resistant to some form of change and why this is so.
The moment you acknowledge that you will start working on yourself so that you can be more adaptive and open to change.
“When you live in complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life” -Eckhart Tolle