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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How To Embrace Change In Life (Even If It’s Hard to Change)

How To Embrace Change In Life (Even If It’s Hard to Change)

The very nature of life is change, think of the seasons, life and death, the passing of time constantly marching forwards, it’s upon us and our duty to embrace it.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “but I don’t want to embrace it, I didn’t ask for it, I like things the way they are”.

If this is you, I hear you, I was the world’s biggest fan of knowing where to get my coffee in the morning, cruising through life on autopilot, enjoying the steady flow of consistency, routine and familiarity… until I wasn’t.

One day, I had the realization that my resistance to change was holding me back, keeping me from exciting opportunities that were rightfully mine yet seemed always slightly out of grasp.

The fact of the matter is we dig our heels in because change challenges us to move out of our comfort zone and take responsibility for where we are going whilst trusting ourselves to handle what comes.

What if we could shift our interpretation of change?

What if willingness to embrace change could be our greatest advantage?

As Heraclitus said,

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”.

Now more than ever it’s imperative we find new ways to embrace change because learning to embrace change gives you an incredible advantage, a winning edge and a sense of resilience that you never knew you had and once you discover, becomes your defining factor.

Let’s lean in to the discomfort, upheaval and uncertainty, after all, when we have nothing to fear that’s when we excel and produce outcomes no one thought possible.

Below are vital steps you can take to master the art of embracing change.

Think of these as tools to help you when you next get blindsided, caught off guard or dealt an unexpected hand as well as add flexibility to your repertoire

Your Response Can Quite Literally Save Your Life

Firstly, let’s ensure change doesn’t knock us off our game for good.

Research by Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal has shown that it’s better to chase meaning and trust that you can handle the journey than to look for ways to seek comfort and mediocrity.

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Backed by data, this remarkable study tracked 30,000 adults in the United States for 8 years mapping stress experience against death records.[1]

What they found had huge implications!

The biggest contributing factor to death were people’s perceptions of the effects of stress on their health.

The results were shocking, when reviewing the past year participants who categorised themselves as ‘experiencing high stress’ and also ‘believed that stress was harmful for their health’ had 43% increased risk of dying.

What’s even more surprising is that by contrast, those that didn’t believe stress was harmful to their health even though they had also reported experiencing high levels of it in the previous year had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the entire study.

This clearly shows that how we perceive stressful events (i.e. change) in relation to our health, matters, especially in times like these.

This begs the question, what if we could shift how we perceive change at the time it occurs?

Simple Solution Requires Practice

Breathwork has been well documented, but not nearly enough for the benefits it provides and the credit it deserves.

There’s a reason all top entrepreneurs and visionaries regard daily time in solitude and meditation as sacred. It allows them to focus on their breathing.

By breathing slowly (through the nose), especially when panicked, taken by surprise or in response to stressful news like a big change it causes tiny amounts of nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas) to be released.

This has a biological effect on the brain which expands the blood vessels and increases blood flow. All good things when dealing with change as more oxygen into the brain promotes clarity of thought, centeredness and feelings of safety.

Along with this sense of calmness, the long term benefit is that we create new neural pathways that can become our default for stressful situations and times of change.

Due to the increased ability to remain present and focused, we experience more successful outcomes as a result. Over time, this allows us to form a new association between the physiological signs of an anxiety response (sweaty palms, increased heart rate) and our ability to switch to slower breathing patterns. In essence, we learn to associate the physiological response with success.

The key here is to build muscle memory around this neural shift, so that when you experience stress and feel your heart rate start to rise, you automatically slide into deep slow breathing (6 breaths per minute).

The equation then becomes experience change or stressful event equals to getting ready to dominate and produce to our fullest potential.

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The Link Between Values and Change

When change is upon us (even though we might not like it at first) much like the unpredictable times we face now, it might feel difficult to look ahead without feeling overwhelmed.

The way to master this type of unprecedented change is to gain control over your mindset through heightened awareness and disciplined application for your values.

By getting closer to our core values and living in accordance with them, it makes it easier to make decisions, develop momentum and push through because we are driven by a deeper purpose.

Your values are your guiding principles and they hold the key to self-confidence and identity. For example, you might think, my family is important to me, so I will choose to look at this situation with a growth mindset. Which in turn allows you to create solutions and thrive in uncertainty because you seek to find ways to provide for them instead of being a victim of circumstance.

Adopting a growth mindset centred around your values makes all the difference, it elevates you to rise to the challenge, set a new standard for yourself and on top of that it’s fun!

Action is Key

One way to increase self-confidence in unpredictable times is by doing admirable things, like getting started on a project, taking action in spite of fear, giving more, this helps to construct a positive self-image that you feel good about.

This also makes another case for living in accordance with our deeper values and making time each day for goal setting to help us maintain worthiness and boost our self-confidence.

Remember why, not what.

Which brings me to my next point, in a similar vein by focusing on why you do what you do, not what you do, it adds a degree of flexibility to any situation.

Maybe you need to rethink that job transfer, relocation or being laid off as an opportunity to deliver more of your why to the world.

If you’re in sales, you deliver solutions and joy not the product.

Starting a new business? You relish the challenge not the security.

Leading a company? You inspire and give mission not title and prestige.

Whatever your chosen field, it’s the why, not the what, that keeps you going. You are not defined by your title, LinkedIn profile or awards, but why you do it – get closer to this and watch yourself overcome all manner of obstacles.

Leverage Different Domains

When you’re facing a challenge in one domain, yet are experiencing success in another, leverage it!

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For example, an acquisition sees your company taken over (which makes for a lot of change) leaving you feeling uncertain and doubting your abilities, yet at home in your family life you are the rock and have it together, this is an opportunity.

It is possible to bring the confidence you feel at home into the workplace to help you navigate the new challenges in this domain. Then, your overall self-integrity is not compromised because you allow your success in one area of your life to flow through into another.

Focus on Delivering Value

When change happens, consider it an opportunity to bring value. When we shift from victim to value adding crusader, it develops a new perspective and builds confidence.

Giving becomes a gift to yourself as well as others and like a self-fulfilling cycle we reap what we sow. This has synergies with the philosophy taught by Tony Robbins which is based on not falling in love with your product but falling in love with your customers and the process of delivering value to them instead.[2]

This is where transformation in the midst of change and adversity occurs and it is where you can gain a huge competitive advantage whilst others are descending into victimhood and wallowing in despair.

Creatively Mix It Up

As Matthew McConaughey says in his new book Greenlights, you must learn to respect winter.

Once a week, force yourself to work from a new part of town, you will have new ideas, meet new people and build your resilience muscles. Do this even if you don’t feel like it.

Once you have mastered prioritizing taking action above your emotions, dealing with the unexpected winds of change won’t be difficult.

By getting creative and taking the initiative to work from a new location, it interrupts your normalised pattern of behavior and you will have to rely on your gut instinct again.

This is much like the Stoic philosophy that Seneca used to impart,

“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared?”

This helped Seneca respect winter and also increase his confidence that he could, if he had to, after all if we aren’t afraid of the worst case scenario then we are liberated.

The thing about change that causes us to feel so uneasy is it feels like it is happening to us, like we don’t have a choice, much like a tide swiping us out into the ocean, no matter how hard we try it forces us in that direction.

To deal with this, we must flip this feeling on its head. Trick the mind into believing that it is what we want, it’s part of our grand master plan and that we have the wherewithal to deal with whatever might be to come.

This is where self-trust, self-identity and self-confidence come in, variables we must ensure to instil and nurture in droves.

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It’s this choice of perception that gives us control because by going with it, we bring our awareness to the opportunities for advancement, we take more courageous actions as a result and have higher expectations of ourselves and the situation.

We have removed the fear from the equation and as a result, it has lost its power over us. This is what having an open mind in the context of change does, it free you up to witness the miracles and by moving with it creates a self-serving cycle of ascension amidst crisis.

Small Actions Make a Difference

Research by Yeager & Walton (2011) has also shown that even the smallest of actions can help to boost our self-confidence and perceived ability to handle future challenges.[3] This in turn helps you become more resilient and cope better, in a self-fulfilling cycle.

Anything from focusing on simple tasks, spending time with friends, serving a high purpose, being there for family members or even shopping for high status goods, has been shown to make a difference.

This brings me to my next point.

Tap Into The Positive Feedback Loop

There’s a deep link between self-identity and social reinforcement that promotes high performance.

For example, imagine your company is going through large scale change but because you are self-affirmed (i.e. you have confidence in your abilities) you achieve better performance at work. As a result, you feel even more self-affirmed and because of this top performance, your boss expects more from you.

Due to this expectation, your own standards are raised and others in the workplace draw out even higher performance from you through recognition feedback and rewarding behaviours as well as recognising your position as a top performer. Then, you feel more self-affirmed and seek opportunities for growth, training and development which leads to producing even better results.

This is the type of positive feedback loop that if developed early can have dramatic and advantageous effects even in the midst of change and disruption as long as you begin at once.

Your Go To Outlet

Finally, there’s a powerful tool right at your fingertips, available to you at every stage, that can help you have mind-blowing ideas, improves productivity and focus throughout the day and helps you have more confidence in who you are and where you are going.

I’m talking about journaling.

Here are a couple of activities to get you started.

  1. Write about the situation you are facing and how you can align with your core values.
  2. Commit to journaling for 10 minutes a day on topics like creative ways to solve problems.

In conclusion, these are some powerful game-changing strategies to help you embrace chance and reach your full potential.

Want To Know More About Embracing Change?

Featured photo credit: Camila Cordeiro via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Business Insider: This Incredible TED Talk Shows How Changing Your Perception Of Stress Could Save Your Life
[2] Tony Robbins: Don’t Fall in Love With Your Products
[3] Yeager DS, Walton GM. 2011. Social-psychological interventions in education: they’re not magic. Rev. Educ. Res. 81:267–301

More by this author

Tim Castle

Bestselling Author, Coach and Co-Founder of My Book Habit

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Last Updated on April 27, 2021

How To Accept Responsibility For Your Life (7 No-Nonsense Tips)

How To Accept Responsibility For Your Life (7 No-Nonsense Tips)

Chances are that if you’re reading this, you are human. This means that there is likely a time or two when you have not taken responsibility for something in your life. We’ve all been there. Maybe you broke an item at a place of employment but didn’t fess up to it, or you missed a deadline and blamed the reason why on someone else, or perhaps you decided a responsibility was too great to face.

Accepting responsibility can be challenging because it doesn’t always feel good. It can require time we think we don’t have. Feelings of shame or inadequacy can surface. Rather than face those feelings, it’s much easier to not accept responsibility.

This is all understandable. But it may not be serving us and who we want to be in the long run.

Accepting responsibility has benefits at work, home, and all aspects of life. When we demonstrate to ourselves that we can be responsible, we show our strength of character, our leadership qualities, and even our adulting skills.

Knowing that doesn’t make accepting responsibility any easier, does it?

Using the example of pretending that you live in an apartment with multiple roommates where you all have to share the kitchen, we will look at seven tips on how to accept responsibility for your life.

1. Stop Playing the Victim

You’ve just cooked a big meal involving several pots, pans, and cooking utensils. You reflect on feeling overwhelmed and stressed by life right now and decide that you just don’t have the time or energy to do your dishes right now. The next time you or your roommates want to use the kitchen, there’s a big mess and a lack of options for pans and cutlery to use.

Maybe one of your roommates will do it for you? Superman to the rescue? I hate to break it to you, but Superman doesn’t actually exist.

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Why insist on crushing every childhood fantasy? Because when we wait for someone else to fix our problems, we are playing the victim, and if Superman doesn’t exist (or Spiderman or Wonder Woman, or Black Panther, etc.), then we will be perpetually tied to the proverbial train tracks, waiting for someone else to save us.[1]

What we can do in this situation is acknowledge and validate our feelings. In the above scenario, you’re focusing on feeling overwhelmed. This feeling isn’t “bad.” But it does affect your motivation to accept responsibility, keeping you in a victim mindset. It isn’t just the dishes that you need to face. You also need to take responsibility for your emotions.

Acknowledging and validating emotions help you to understand what you’re feeling and why. You can then redirect the energy you’re wasting on being a victim and redirect it toward more productive things in life. Like doing your own dishes.

There are many different ways we can develop the skill of self-acknowledgment and validation. One of the best is to write about what you’re experiencing. You may be surprised by how you describe the “what” and “why” of your feelings. You may even uncover other times in your life when you felt this way and find that your current thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are based on that past. You might even heal an old experience as you deal with the present circumstance!

2. End the Blame Game

“If my roommates were more consistent about doing their dishes, then I would feel like I could do mine.”

It’s so easy to come up with excuses and reasons why we shouldn’t be held to a higher standard than anyone else. We find interesting ways to blame others for why we can’t do something. This becomes another way to avoid taking responsibility, and we can do so out of a perspective of anger.[2]

Anger can be energetically compelling, but it’s not always rooted in reality. It can keep us stuck and prevent us from having the life and relationships we really want. Much like being the victim, it’s important to ask yourself how being and staying angry is serving you. Again, it’s important to acknowledge and validate these thoughts and feelings too.

Perhaps you’re really feeling mad at someone at your workplace who isn’t taking responsibility for their own projects. You end up taking on their work, allowing anger to build up. By the time you get home, you need a place to let that anger out. And so, your anger is directed toward your kitchen and your roommates.

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This may help you feel better for a little while, but it’s not sustainable. There are so many ways of dealing with anger. It would serve you and others around you well to learn how to manage and work with any anger you have in your life so that you can resume your acceptance of responsibility.

3. Forgive Yourself and others

After reading tips number 1 and 2, perhaps you are now adept at practicing acknowledging and validating your feelings. Because of that work, it’s easier to forgive yourself and others.

For instance, without the feelings of victimhood and blame, you have the energy to see things from a perspective of forgiveness and tolerance.

From a place of forgiveness, you see that even though your roommates don’t take care of their dishes right away every time, they do so more often than not. Plus, you can see that all of you have challenging things happening in your lives right now, so why should your challenges make it so that you can slack off? You may even remember times when your roommates have helped you out with cleaning the kitchen even though the mess wasn’t theirs.

As you forgive others, you forgive yourself too and take ownership of your own tasks.

4. Use Responsibility as a Way to Help Others

Shirking our responsibilities can actually affect others’ well-being. We can step into a space of considering how our actions, or lack thereof, might be burdening or harming others.

For example, not doing your dishes and leaving the kitchen dirty means that when another roommate wants to use the kitchen to make a meal, they may have to clean the kitchen first to have access to the pots, pans, and utensils required. They may feel annoyed that you didn’t take responsibility for your mess, which affects your relationship with your roommate. A confrontation may be on the horizon.

However, if you can put yourself in the frame of mind to consider things from your roommate’s position, you might think twice about leaving the dishes. By taking responsibility and doing your part to keep the kitchen clean, you are taking care of the space and your roommates.

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A lot of people find it easier and highly beneficial to do things out of a sense of responsibility for others.[3] Thinking about things from another’s perspective can be a motivating factor and can provide us with feelings of purpose.

5. Look for the Win-Win

When we choose not to take responsibility, we are choosing a zero-sum game, meaning nobody wins. What if you looked for the win-win opportunity of taking responsibility instead?

Maybe there have been times when your roommates have saddled you with a messy kitchen. If you now decide to leave your mess, nobody wins. Whereas, cleaning up after yourself now means that you are modeling how you want the space to be treated by everyone. You are also ensuring that your roommates can trust you to take responsibility for your cleaning tasks, and the next person who wants to use the kitchen will be able to do so.

In this scenario, you will be taking responsibility, cultivating a relationship of trust with your roommates, and making it so that nobody else has to clean up after you. Everyone wins.

6. Make Taking Responsibility Fun

Another vantage point from which we could look is the place of joy. Yes, joy.

It’s easy to paint “cleaning the kitchen” in a negative light when shows are streaming on Netflix and downtime activities calling. But what could happen for you if you made the task of doing the dishes fun?

How can it be fun? This is where you get to be creative.

Some ideas could be playing some of your favorite music as you clean, invite a roommate to chat while you clean, or you could play that show you’re binging on Netflix as you scrub. Have Airpods? Call a friend as you clean!

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Finding a way to make it fun helps you lose track of time and get the job done faster. It could also provide some necessary “play” time. We don’t play enough as adults. Get back to your childhood roots and find ways to incorporate play into your daily routine, and get the dishes done at the same time!

7. Choose Your Own Adventure

When we approach responsibility from our highest self, we can be at choice for how we want to accept it. This requires an awareness of what we intend to accomplish or learn in any life experience.

For instance, when faced with a responsibility, you could consider all the ways of looking at it (from a place of victimhood, blame, forgiveness, service to others, win-win, or fun) and decide which perspective would serve the highest good of all, yourself included.

When we can approach any life situation from the standpoint of having choices, doesn’t that feel better than feeling forced into a decision or action?

Conclusion

Knowing that you can make conscious choices at any time in your life hopefully helps you to feel freer and more energized for any life responsibility you choose to accept. These seven tips on how to accept responsibility will set you up for a good start.

More Tips on How To Be a Responsible Person

Featured photo credit: Marcos Paulo Prado via unsplash.com

Reference

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