Bipolar Disorder BPD,  Mental Health

Managing Change

Am I ready for any of this?

Andy Warhol said, “When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.”

How I Am Handling Change.

I hate change. I hate the way it makes me feel and I hate my reaction to something that I know to be necessary for personal growth. Sometimes it is beyond my control, but most of the time, I’m the one making the decisions.

Right now, I am experiencing one of the most significant changes in my life. For the past seven years, I have been working on my Ph.D. in Educational Technology, and in February, I finished. All done. It was a huge relief, but waiting on the other side was a barrage of questions:

  • What do I do now?
  • Who will hire me?
  • Do I publish my dissertation?
  • How am I going to pay back my school loans?
  • Am I ready for any of this?

It was incredibly overwhelming, and the weight of it tore me down. I was distraught and sure I’d never find a way out. I’ve wallowed for weeks. That’s when I did accidentally did a smart thing. I spoke with some people close to me about my feelings. When I say spoke, I mean fell apart like a blubbery mess, but the other sounded more respectable.

Everyone was supportive and told me to hang in there. They hugged me and are still sources of sustained support, but one person asked me something strange. She asked me, “How do you eat an elephant?” I was a little confused, but she proceeded with a smile. I said I didn’t know, and her answer was, “One bite at a time.” I laughed, but she continued by telling me that all of the questions swirling around my brain were just one piece of the elephant and that I couldn’t chew on them all. She said I need to accomplish one thing at a time, organizing by what was most imperative.

It was sound advice, and it made me readjust my priorities. So, I’m finding a job first. I don’t mean the academic career of my dreams, but I do mean one that will pay me, insure me, and help me ease back into a working world. It will be a significant change, but I am finally ready for it.

Advice for Handling Change

  • Acknowledge that change is always happening. Nothing stays the same forever.
  • Feel your emotions about change.
  • Focus on the now and stay away from lamenting about the past.
  • Be honest with yourself and your process.
  • Be fair to yourself and those around you.
  • Remember that there are people who have degrees in change management. It takes work, sometimes years. So, hang in there.

Unhelpful Responses to Those Resistant to Change

  • Don’t take it personally.
  • Don’t get defensive.
  • Don’t make the fundamental attribution error. In other words, don’t assume that a person’s actions depend on what “kind” of person they are without considering the social and environmental forces that influence them.
  • Don’t focus on making the resistance stop.

The resistant behavior is not the real problem. The real problem is the underlying situation that caused resistance. Consider, for a moment, that this might be a significant disruption to their routine or that they’re confused about the next steps or that they’re upset about decisions being made about them without their consent. When people resist change, there is always more to it. Understanding the experience through their eyes will give you the steps to help them through it. So if you want to influence people to change, treat resistance as something to uncover and not overcome.

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