As creatures of habit, humans have a tendency to resist anything that we are not used to.
So when you’re next called stubborn, strong-willed or set in your ways, maybe you will remember that you have more in common with others than you might think.
As human beings, any type of habit takes time to develop, as do we as people.
It might take someone decades to develop into the person that you wish to be and develop your personality and character, according to external factors around you.
The lifestyle a person chooses in their 20s is likely to be different from a person a couple of decades later and so being afforded the option to review and reflect on your choices when you reach your mid 40s can be contradictorily both challenging and liberating.
It is only because the person in their 40s has had more life experience to form deeper habits and develop themselves, and so their lifestyles are more likely to have changed and their priorities and responsibilities adapted to.
Change comes in different forms from a variety of ways during our lives.
Our adaptability to change may well be subconscious rather than conscious in many scenarios.
However, it is the change that we are well aware of that can often causes a variety of feelings that might include: worry, nervousness, excitement, and in more severe cases: anxiety and fear in people.
When a child moves from a nursery or preschool to primary school, their feelings may be valid in what the changes shall bring, however, it is more likely that in most instances (not all) that it’s the parents’ feelings of trepidation of this new challenge.
Another interesting example is the next big transition in education from primary to secondary school for a child.
This move is likely to create a number more discussions because the child that is moving is beginning to form their own opinions and have a view as to what would be best for them and what they would like.
The change provides them with an opportunity to focus on what a school may offer them in terms of curriculum, extracurricular activities and overall values and culture.
It is likely that a certain school will ‘feel’ right or wrong to a pre-secondary school child as they visit several to work out their next choice.
There, they will face many changes that will lead to more independence and responsibility and the accountability they take of the choices they make when change presents itself might feel exciting or daunting.
Change continues throughout a person’s childhood and into their teenaged years.
Any person who has mapped out their professional career themselves, whether that is going to university, being awarded the relevant degree, starting out on the corporate ladder at the bottom and working their way up might find a change within them after a number of years.
They might feel they are no longer challenged, there is not enough variety in what they are doing and they may even wish to leave their corporate world to enter self-employment, a huge change that presents a number of challenges.
Another life change could well include becoming part of the ‘sandwich generation’.
As we reach our 40s and 50s, it is often the case that we find ourselves caring for our aging relatives as well as our own children.
It is also significant and worth noting that, as parents, each and every developmental stage is new to us and we have to change our parenting skills accordingly to meet the new needs of our children.
I recall, on a number of occasions, I thought I was just about well-adjusted in dealing with one stage my daughter was at and then suddenly learnt that she was swiftly moving onto the next.
I have never parented an 11-year-old and it is somewhat different from how I parented her when she was a toddler. I have had to change my style, adapting it accordingly to achieve a mutual respect and understanding and harmonious life for all.
There is no manual on how to parent a child throughout the developmental stages they experience. I have never reached for a Gina Ford book and do not intend to follow any other parenting guide other than what I ‘feel’ is right.
There will always be change, presented to us in our lifetime and it is how we react and address these changes that will have an influence on the outcome.
By adapting to change in a positive, pragmatic and open-minded way, there is much to learn.
We develop and grow as people when change is necessary because the way we handle any given situation is what tests us and often makes us more resilient.
Approaching change in a more negative and narrow minded manner could inevitably lead to frustration, procrastination and an unsuccessful result.
Adaptability and flexibility are qualities that are often found in people. Naturally, however, it is absolutely possible to train ourselves to become more adaptable and flexible and how we think and act.
If we treat change as an opportunity, the skills that we have obtained throughout our life are bound to create a positive mindset.
With the need to solve problems as change presents itself, it is these lifelong skills, together with the lessons we have learnt during our lifetime to that point, that will prepare us to embrace any change that is facing us at any given point.
As creatures of habit embracing change might feel uncomfortable at first, however, the opportunities that await us can only make us stronger, more knowledgeable and this, in turn, will lead us to feeling more confident and empowered in the choices we make when change challenges us.
The self-doubt, nagging suspicions and sense of habitual rituals might put us off.
Just think, though, the questions: ‘what if’ and ‘how can’ might lead us to a more enlightening experience that we should benefit from.
The 'what now' allows us to think a little more laterally about what we are going to do about the 'thing' that is presenting itself to us.
The feeling of reward and accomplishment when we succeed, passing through change is real and personal and when this happens, we are often more receptive to the next change that is calling out for us to embrace it.
How can we embrace change, though, when fear can overcome us?
It’s not as simple as ‘just getting on with it’ if the feeling of dread overtakes all of our senses.
When we feel like this, it might be worth taking to time to pause and take a deep breath to evaluate the risks involved.
If we can determine that it is unlikely to lead to a disastrously negative result (there aren’t many things that lead to something so terrible in the things we do!), we can then see it more clearly as an opportunity. Maybe a scary one but nevertheless one that might, just might, lead to a new way of thinking and doing.
This is how we might approach change when we are given the choice to change something. However, there are many other scenarios in which change comes with no pre-emption from us so what do we do then?
Going back to the start, humans are generally creatures of habit and so when change presents itself, it is often not as we expect.
It is at these times that embracing change is most needed.
Whilst it has been pointed out that it is our approach to change that will make a difference, it can be challenging to do that.
Change does not need to be negative.
With a logical and practical way of viewing change the opportunities that present themselves when change becomes apparent are more likely to be seen in a more positive way.
Taking ourselves ‘out’ of the situation in which the change might feel overwhelming or stressful, if we can dismiss the emotion of ‘how’ we feel for a moment and focus on the facts and possible results of the change facing us (brain over heart scenario), it is much easier to be able to tackle any challenge.
“The only constant in life is change.”
-- Heraclitus (Greek Philosopher, 535 BC)
By viewing change as an opportunity for development and growth, we are much more able to embrace change and use it to our advantage.