Change. Opportunity or Threat?
Change is a constant and inevitable in our lives both professionally and personally and is frequently present in things that we find stressful. We tend to fear change because it threatens our need to be in control and to feel secure.
The body responds to stress with the fight or flight response which is a primitive animalistic instinctive reaction to physical threats. This was crucial in keeping our ancestors safe many thousands of years ago when they had to respond very quickly to survive. The fight or flight response took the ‘thinking’ out of the equation so that they could react immediately to physical danger.
Now change is much less physically dangerous but far more complex, constant and the consequences can be unpredictable. However we still retain our evolutionary instinct that leads us to trigger the same fight or flight response to even the slightest possibility of change, even though there is no real threat to survival.
It means that when you feel unable to cope, be whether it a perceived or imagined threat, you react the same way as if your life was threatened, rather than thinking and using all your competencies. Responding to change with a sense of fear and anxiety can undermine your resilience.
Studies have shown that people tend to react either by seeing danger or fear in change while others can see opportunity and potential and are more resilient.
If you are aware that you tend to be fearful or resistant to change then your brain can get high jacked by strong emotions and you act without thinking. This is survival mode and it is exhausting and distressing if repeated over time. It is important to learn how to develop another way to respond to change.
If you respond by seeing opportunity in change you are acting in competency mode where you have full access to your brain and its functions that allow you to make full use of your abilities, potential and make healthy decisions.
You are more likely to approach change with more:
The ability to respond with flexibility is essential quality of resilience and an important quality to develop.
How you can learn to see change as an opportunity not a threat.
The only difference between someone who allows the fight or flight response to keep triggering and the person who embraces the opportunities and possibilities of change is that the latter will interrupt the fight or flight response. This is a skill that requires awareness, commitment and practice but is well worth the effort.
Change can be challenging, but by taking time to assess the situation thoroughly can help you to gain clarity, confidence and motivation to make the most of the exciting possibilities change can also present.
Take time to consider your answers to these questions about the current and potential changes in your life:
- What are your anxieties about the current changes in your life?
- What could you lose from these changes?
- What is it about these changes that you could be excited about?
- What could you possibly gain from these changes?
- Having considered these questions how do you feel now about the changes?
- Write down your thoughts and reflections on your responses.
Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Viktor E. Frank
Working with a coach can support you to explore how you could embrace change and maximise the opportunities change offers. If you would like time to think and plan with clarity and confidence then contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07736 649584