Change is scary, hairy and necessary

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

What changes do you want to make in 2018? Are you ready to start the process of managing change and making changes? What feelings are evoked when you think about change?

Change is a daunting six letter word for many people. Change is scary, hairy, and necessary can be a mantra for exploring, understanding, learning, accepting and taming the change monster. Two words—people change. Three more words—change is unavoidable. And life is about change. The purpose of this article is to help you become more aware and better understand change.

Becoming more open to the process of change helps to tame the change monster by highlighting coping, adjustment, and life skills; reducing fear, anger, anxiety, sadness, guilt, and stress; increasing self-control and contentment; improving decision-making and problem-solving skills; enhancing communication and conflict resolution in relationships; and by promoting well being and self-confidence. James Gordon declared “It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.”

However, change is a progression so please be patience with yourself. You are the change architect and you possess the potential to change and make changes. The ability to change is found within your own unique blueprint of unlearning, relearning, and learning some more. Words, ideas, methods, techniques, and tools will help you but will not change you—only YOU can change YOU!

I need to point out a valuable tidbit about change and making changes. Things do not always work out exactly like we would like. Even after you learn change management, a specific outcome may not arrive. When this happens you will learn a lesson in flexibility and revamping of expectations because other people may not follow your agenda. Just because we change does not mean others will change.

News flash! We cannot change others. We cannot change our spouses, partners, kids, relatives, friends, coworkers, supervisors, or rivals. It’s about changing ourselves and often times when we change, a ripple, wave, or surge goes forth, vibrates our environment, and acts as a conduit for others to follow suit. The changes and choices we make impact others. Making major changes requires communication and input from family and others in our environment. Changes are not made in a vacuum because life is not lived in a vacuum.

Making changes in your life and in yourself can be downright difficult. Many people struggle for years before they make changes and find effective solutions to dilemmas. You are not alone and your situation is not hopeless. You will face obstacles and challenges; your motivation level will ebb and flow; and frustration and exasperation will visit. Understand that this is the process of changing and it is necessary for growth to occur; stretching your aptly named “comfort zone” is uncomfortable. The process of change lies on a continuum for each individual; one size does not fit all. It’s not about willpower but about accepting and embracing change as a continual lifelong process with adjustments, options, and alternatives. It’s about better decision-making and problem-solving skills. You own the ability and responsibility to engage in the process of self-improvement and personal change management.

We change our underwear and hair color, but shriek about changing how we think, feel, or behave. “What? You Want Me to Change? What? You want me to change the way I think, feel, and act! I can’t change. I don’t like change. What? You want me to change my faulty belief system, my attitude, and how I respond? Change is too hard. Change is scary. I don’t need to change. Other things need to change but not me. Other people in my life need to change. What? I didn’t know I could change. You mean change is a choice…I’ll think about changing.”

First and foremost, list the individuals in your life who will be supportive during your change process. Consistently discuss your process and progress towards managing change with a trustworthy friend, accountability partner, mentor, or counselor when plausible.

I suggest you scribble epiphanies in a confidential journal plus engage in a written evaluation of your change goals. Yes, creating and writing down your goals for change is as significant as recognizing the process of change. Just ask Zig Zigler, a motivational speaker and writer.

Ponder Change Questions

Am I open to learning new things about change?

Am I ready to learn about change?

Why do I want to or need to change?

What changes do I want to make?

Do I want to make small changes, big changes, or in-between changes?

What are my goals for making changes?

How will my life be different after I manage change?

What purpose does change management play in my daily living?

What are my strengths that will help me to make changes?

How do I change my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors?

What clues will alert me that change is happening?

What things can I change?

What things are not changeable?

Reflect on Change

Chew on new information about change.

Explore, examine, and expect self-change.

Write down your expectations for change.

List obstacles and challenges to change.

Contemplate your choices and options.

Focus on what course of action to take.

Myths about Change (or excuses not to change)

Other people in my life need to change, not me.

Changing takes too much energy.

Life would be smoother if my partner or spouse would change.

If only my children would change then my stress would be reduced.

My supervisor and coworkers need to change, not me.

I’m too old to change because I’m set in my ways.

Stubborn people can’t change.

If I change, others will take advantage of me.

Realities about Change

You cannot change other people; you can only change yourself.

Unresolved problems require more energy then problem-solving.

Change in relationships involves cooperation, commitment, and compromise.

People are in a constant state of change in various degrees.

Effective change consists of appropriate decision-making skills and choices.

Sometimes a significant change involves the ability to take a risk after thoroughly evaluating the situation.

Consider consequences and rewards. What is the payoff for making changes?

Today is the day to begin to make changes.

Write down your own myths, excuses, and realities about change. Do you want to become an agent of change?

What exactly is change? Type in the word “change” on the Internet and numerous websites pop up: global climate change, social change, political change, economic change, career change, and a multitude of others. Alas, the definition of change is open to interpretation. What is your own definition of change?

What is your motivation to change? Pain and suffering may be the motivators that propel some individuals to seek out change. Jim Rohn claimed “We generally change ourselves for one of two reasons—inspiration or desperation.” Understanding your own motivation for change management promotes self-awareness. The famed Serenity Prayer is about accepting what we can and cannot change with wisdom to know the difference.

Contemplate on Change

List the obstacles for changing things in your life.

How did you handle change obstacles in the past?

What personal strengths help you deal with challenges to change?

Are you willing to make sacrifices to make changes?

Review your motivations, expectations, and hope for change.

What do you want to change about you?

What do you think is changeable about your life or situation?

Your Personal Theory on Change

Think about your definition of change.

Write down your definition of change.

What is your own personal theory of change?

Write about your personal theory of self-change.

I want to invite you to read the book (94 pages) entitled Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. Mice, Sniff and Scurry and People, Hem and Haw discover how to deal with change in life and work while traveling through a maze looking for cheese. It’s a popular book about change and you can find it at your public library. View an animated book summary and video on YouTube.

Yes, change is scary, hairy, and necessary, but you can change how you think about change. The change monster says: “Change is impossible. You can’t make changes.” The change monster gobbles your goals and causes stress, worry, and anxiety. Take the power and fear away from the change monster. Question the scary part of change. Speak assertively to your change monster. “I can make changes!”

Nathaniel Branden wrote “The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D. is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator, and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D. is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator, and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio.