One of the increasingly important success skills we all need to acquire is an ability to constructively embrace the massive and inevitable change that is an integral part of the 21st century.
The civilised world as we know it has already entered a phase that change consultants refer to as the “era of acceleration” where traditional linear models of change have been replaced the explosive power of exponential change.
In a seemingly relentless onslaught, change seems to impact us from virtually every direction, and in areas as diverse as technology, security and the environment, the effects on our lives are enormous. But the change we’ve experienced so far is only the tip of the iceberg and futurists predict that the degree of change we’ll experience in the 21st century alone will be equivalent to the last 20,000 years of changes combined.
In pure evolutionary terms, it’s understandable and quite normal for people to experience some internal resistance to the change process and please let me explain. An important function of our non-conscious brain is to keep us safe, whereby it determines the most appropriate emotional response and initial behaviours for any given situation. For example, if you’re walking along a bush track and sense a snake near your feet, you’ll automatically jump away before you consciously think about it. This process which operates exclusively at the non-conscious level is part of the “fight or flight” instinct. Without such a mechanism, the human race would have struggled to evolve through past environments that were physically dangerous and unforgiving.
Nowadays, the non-conscious brain stills maintains its constant vigil and stays on alert for any threats to our survival. Because we are creatures of habit who crave established routines, any changes to the environment creates discomfort and anxiety. These negative emotions activate the “fight or flight” mechanism and we’re once again at the mercy of our evolutionary instincts.
Typically, our “flight” response to modern day change involves sealing ourselves off from those around us and attempting to ignore what’s happening. The other common response is to “fight”, where individuals actively resist change through negativity, destructive criticism and even sabotage. Neither response delivers a productive outcome when attempting to negotiate a world of change.
I believe the most effective way to function in a world of change is for individuals to develop and nurture a “can-do” mindset whilst staying relaxed and in a positive emotional state wherever possible.
Here are some tools you might like to try to help you deal with change:
- Humans are remarkably adaptive creatures, but we rarely give ourselves credit for this ability. Take time out to reflect on the successful changes you’ve negotiated in the past
- The natural tendency for most people is to focus on the negative consequences of change, but change often presents many opportunities. Make the effort to write down all the positive outcomes that could be generated from the change you’re experiencing
- Make the effort to understand the “bigger picture” perspective of the change that you may be experiencing at a local level.
- Eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep… high energy levels enhance cognitive function and your ability to adapt
- Biofeedback, is very powerful, maintain positive body language wherever possible
- Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. For example, it’s counter-productive to focus on “I don’t want to be fat” Instead choose a more effective and powerful goal such as “I want to be energetic, fit and healthy”…same outcome but more effective approach
- Choose your peer group wisely. Associate with fellow “can-doers” who are like-minded and supportive and avoid the ‘dooms-dayers”
- Discuss your feelings with those you can trust to support you. Talking about what you’re feeling is a powerful tonic for the anxiety you’re experiencing in the change process
- Practice the fundamentals of “optimistic thinking”. Optimistic thinkers explain the negative events they experience throughout life in temporary, specific and controllable terms
- Feed your mind with “can-do” books, audio tapes, CD’s and even lectures or seminars
- Practice personal gratitude on a daily basis
- Have a selection of “pump-up” music on hand ready to play when you’re feeling a little anxious
Have confidence in the knowledge that amidst a sea of external change, we currently have access to all the tools necessary to create and live a life of health, happiness and abundance!