How to Cope with Change in Your Life

How should you deal with change? What strategies can help you manage it? Here are four key ideas renowned specialists suggest.
How to Cope with Change in Your Life

Last update: 27 November, 2020

There’s a phrase that says: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”. That’s the reality you face every day. You continuously encounter new situations you must face, changes you must adopt, and losses you must deal with.

But how do you cope with change? Is it simple? What tools can you use? Experts from different fields (psychology, coaching, and business) have given their opinions on this issue and suggested some strategies on how to cope with change.

How to cope with change

Changes are normal parts of life and happen almost every day. Learning to manage them can help you grow as a person.

However, it isn’t always easy to adapt to the new situations that life throws at you, particularly the unexpected ones. How do you cope with change? Here are four key ideas to help you!

A woman looking stressed, perhaps not knowing how to cope with change.

Try to accept it

Life is full of experiences and obstacles. And change can pose a real threat to your stability. But change doesn’t have to be negative. In fact, on the contrary, it can be a great opportunity. However, the truth is that, sometimes, change involves unpleasant or uncomfortable situations and could entail a complete restructuring of your life.

Therefore, working on acceptance can help you face change. But what does this mean? Basically, you need to adapt to a new reality every day, taking on the losses as and when they arrive and keeping in mind that only the present moment matters.

César Piqueras, executive coach, trainer, and writer has talked about the importance of acceptance when facing change. As he affirms “When we accept, we’re choosing the path of wisdom. There’s no more complaining or anger, there’s acceptance”. Furthermore, with acceptance, your drive isn’t repressed nor have you given up, but you’re able to welcome the coming change.

Look forward

Psychotherapist Demián Bucay states that, in situations of change, there may well be a greater gain than a loss but this doesn’t mean you don’t feel pain for what you’ve left behind. Feeling pain is normal when you have to accept that a stage of your life is over.

But looking ahead can help you approach this type of situation mindfully and calmly. The past won’t come back, but you have a present, often full of opportunities, that’ll allow you to build your future.

“The future depends on what you do today”.

-Mahatma Gandhi-

Change

César Piqueras suggests that there are four ways to deal with change: object and complain, give in, accept, and change. This article focuses on the last two, which are the most adaptive (although giving in can also sometimes be adaptive).

We already mentioned the strategy of acceptance. Piqueras states that the strategy of changing allows you to gain more, as you go beyond just complaining or giving in. You go forward when you’re willing to change what you don’t like.

Although it might sound repetitive, another adaptive way of dealing with change is by intervening when you consider it necessary. It’s true that change sometimes leaves you little room to alter the course of events. However, you’ll be able to do so sometimes, so that’s worth remembering. And if not, you can always change the way you look at the events or even change yourself.

“When change comes, you have to find ways to change something too, in order that the change becomes a positive one”

-Cesar Piqueras-

Be aware

Business coach Ignacio Martinez suggests that, when you face change, you must be aware of what you intend to do with it. If it’s a change you haven’t chosen, you must allow yourself to feel all the emotions surrounding the situation (sadness, anger, rage, etc.) and start to accept it whenever you feel ready.

Ignacio also points out that it can be beneficial to be aware of the consequences of not changing, as well as the opportunities of the new situation or context. Although he focuses mainly on business, it can be extrapolated to other areas.

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

-Nathaniel Branden-

A woman looking uncertain.

The importance of flexibility and awareness

As you can see, there’s no one way to cope with change. Indeed, each person must find their own way or use one of the aforementioned strategies, depending on the situation. Furthermore, not all life changes are the same. There will be important changes like getting married, emigrating, or losing a loved one. And there will also be others of lesser importance like changing gyms or making a new friend, among others. However, what matters is how you value each kind of change and how you decide to face that new reality. Having the necessary tools can help you through life. You’ll need mental flexibility, a good dose of awareness, and above all, the understanding that life allows you the chance to start again every single day.

Giorgio Nardone, Brief Strategic psychotherapist and psychologist, and philosopher Paul Watzlawick state that all change is a process, an art, and a constant flow of thoughts, feelings, and emotions. You’ll be successful if, within this flow, you adopt a flexible, conscious, and open perspective.

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  • Lahey, Benjamin B. (2007). Introducción a la Psicología. 9na. edición. China: McGraw Hill.
  • Neff, K. (2012). Sé amable contigo mismo. El arte de la compasión hacia uno mismo. Madrid: Oniro.