Thursday, March 12, 2009

Change - The Secret to Coping

There's an old saying: "The only constant in life is change." If that's true, and I believe it is, you'd think that we'd all be quite adept at living our lives in the midst of a changing world. Yet, mention the word "change," and people get worried. Even when we seek change - in government, in law, or in our own personal lives - when the change actually occurs, we often have a difficult time adjusting to it.

The secret to understanding how to successfully cope with change is actually quite simple: It all comes down to transforming our attitude, from one of resisting change to embracing it. That's right - by changing how we feel, we can transform a negative experience to a positive one. It's even possible to move oneself from hating change to loving it!

Resistance to change is a natural result of fear, and fear is a natural response to something we perceive as threatening or dangerous in some way. Any change, even one we think we want, can have a domino effect, causing unexpected ripples of change in other areas of life, which we perceive as threatening. The key word in the last few sentences is "perceive." When we begin to think positively about something, we change our perception of it, which changes our feelings about it and, therefore, our attitudes.

Think about this: the physiological symptoms of anxiety (fear) include rapid or irregular heart rate, rapid breathing, lightheadedness, and sweating. Interestingly, these are the very same symptoms we experience when we are excited about something! Think of the last time you rode a roller coaster. If you feared the ride, you probably had all those symptoms, called it nervousness, and hated the experience. If you didn't fear the ride, you probably experienced all those symptoms, called it excitement, and had a great time. It's all a matter of viewpoint.

To change your feelings you have to change your thoughts. There are many ways to accomplish transforming your way of thinking about something. Following are just a few of these tools for taking control of your thoughts and attitudes. When trying out these techniques for the first time, start with something small - a change or event that doesn't carry a lot of emotional "charge" for you.

1) Look at the bright side.

List three or more positive outcomes that could result from this change. Be creative. Be farfetched. How could this event or change "backfire" into something great?

2) Say Yes!

You have to want to change your attitude and believe that you can change how you feel. When you feel threatened, however subtly, by an unexpected change, literally stand tall, open your arms wide, and loudly proclaim, "Yes!"

3) Embrace it.

Visualize the change coming into your life and, with it, all the positive changes you listed in step one. Imagine each of these positive events causing other good things to happen. Imagine yourself embracing this new event or change of circumstance and, if possible, physically act out the embrace as you imagine it.

Finally, to reinforce the idea that change is exciting, make a small, intentional change, every day. Eat blueberries in your cereal instead of sliced bananas. Try a yoga class instead of kickboxing. You'll begin to see how much fun change can be. And speaking of kickboxing, these tools are also great for kick-starting your creativity any time you feel stuck.

Amber Lea Starfire is an agent of change and loves to create solutions that transcend limits. Her passion is helping others realize their own creative, expressive, and physical potential by developing new ways of thinking and doing. Amber is Publisher and Editor of The Writer's Eye Magazine (, a freelance writer, professional portrait photographer, bicyclist and mother. Contact her at -

Sally Jenkins

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