Cultures are changing, jobs are changing, electronics are changing – life is changing so fast? When we are young, we often have a certain vision of how we would like our life to play out, where we would like to go and what we would like to achieve. Most of us have a tendency in life to live each day without thought, you know the way it is, wake, dress, kids, work, cook, clean, sleep, wake, and so the pattern repeats.
What is quite surprising, is how much comfort we find in these repeatable routines. We know this time next month or next year that we can have a rough estimation of where, what and how. Along this plan, we may decide to move house or job, save up for a holiday destination we have dreamed about. We pave our way forward in life, putting down the stones of what know and what we want.
At some point in our lives, we realise that life does not work like that. Our lives go from something comfortable and predictable into something, where we don’t know what will happen next. So what happens when you become a stranger in your own life?
According to Seyle (1956), when there is a conflict between what we expect and what actually happens our natural stress response kicks in. In a stress situation, we have either problem-focused or emotion-focused coping (Lazarus and Folkman, 1984). If problem-focused coping occurs, we can solve the conflict that caused the stress, and move forward. However, if the coping is emotion-focused, it can lead to coping strategies such as rumination, catastrophising, blaming, or reappraisals. This may often lead to the normal response of Depression and/or Anxiety.
So how do we stay constant, in an ever-changing world, that may lead to internal conflict (stress) in our lives? Quite ironically the way to stay constant, in an ever-changing world, is to be adaptable, changeable, or the popular word is resilient. I can hear all those resistant to change comments I have had from people for example, but it has always worked, it was better in the old days, I don’t want it that way. But I would like to remind you, if a flower stayed in the state of a seed, it would never grow into a beautiful flower.
Its natural for us to be scared of change, and for our body to react with anxiety. If you understand that the anxiety is a natural way for your body to “kick you in the bottom” – to get moving, it may give you a new perspective on the possibilities. I spoke with an elderly gentleman on the canal the other day whilst walking my dogs. I told him the couple in the canal boat in front told me it was their first time, and she is feeling worried and anxious. The elderly gentleman said something quite valid in our everyday life, the first two nights on the canal are scary, the third night, you push yourself to accept, and before you know it, the week is over and you wish you had another.
Change is scary because you can not tell what will come, but if you don’t try, how will you ever know. Keep resilient in an ever-changing world and you will stay constant.
Lazarus, R.S. and Folkman, S., 1984. Stress, appraisal, and coping. Springer publishing company.
Selye, H., 1956. The stress of life.
By Gemma King