12 PROVEN WAYS TO COPE WITH UNEXPECTED CHANGE

Updated: Jan 20

This article has been reviewed by Nick Kerry, Systemic Psychotherapist & Psychodynamic Counsellor

Change. UGH! Just the word may make you cringe knowing the rug is getting pulled out from under you, snaring you, forcing you to walk into the unknown. For many of us change is one of the most difficult constants in life to witness, accept and move through. Coping with known change, like a best friend moving away is hard enough to handle, but what about unexpected change? How self loving are you when hit with unexpected change? Things like betrayal, rejection, death, cruelty from a trusted space, serious illness, loss of business, financial upheaval are just some examples of unexpected changes that will truly challenge even the most disciplined self loving person.


Many of us are sailing through our days as creatures of habit, happily parking in the same space everyday, drinking the same coffee, enjoying the same dinner on Tuesday nights gives us security, peace and comfort. The fact that we can count on specific stable reoccurring things in our lives brings a deep sense of belonging to the timeline we are living. When the unknown changes rise up and take over our journey a wave of fear, regret, grief surges that may be deeply damaging to our mental-emotional self.


While it will feel very lonely when facing unexpected changes, rest assured that every person you look at has faced deeply unsettling changes to their life path. Things that have caused them to struggle and even reassess their options. Below are twelve tools specifically selected by Nita, founder of Infinity Nation to help you connect to yourself and begin the journey of healing. She's gathered these because they have been her lifeline as she traveled out of domestic abuse and through three years of the rolling changes that came with navigating a life rebuild in therapy. Unlearning highly toxic behaviors set as normal in early childhood, put her on a path of constant challenge, change and unexpected losses as she began to set boundaries and become self aware. These valuable tools deepened her journey of finding and filling her own self worth, embracing, seeing, and honoring her own needs which eventually allowed her to stop the cycle of mental-emotional pain and begin to accept change as a healthy part of living an authentic life.


As you go through this list, pick any that resonate and commit to them, but not to merely trying them once, train yourself to try and try again before giving up and walking away from an opportunity to help yourself. Research has shown that it takes 21 days to build a habit and 90 days to build that habit into life choices that we continue to do for the rest of our lives. Knowing this, give yourself time. Time to accept, heal and grow through the emptiness you feel. Leave a note in comments to let others know what worked for you and how you personalized the tools below to get a maximum value from them.


1. SIT WITH IT

It is a powerful kindness to yourself to allow the simple act of space to accept what has happened. Do not harshly judge anyone or anything during this initial shock, especially yourself! By letting the full weight of your loss sink in without the need to react or do anything about it, we are evidencing to our authentic self that we are worthy of thought, reflection, meditation, time and space. The change has already happened, so while we may desperately want a different outcome, ending, or story line, the facts are, that this is the one we must come to grips with before anything else. Sit within the change and allow your body to come to accept the mental-emotional and physical responses. Honor the need to find a calm with the news you've received.


2. GIVE IT TIME

Time gives insight and perspective, so while our natural instinct may be to rebuke a hurt and protect our ego, if we are able to find the courage to allow time to pass without harshness of return we may often find answers that we did not see at first glance when we were so hurt. It is quite possible that we've been hiding our view about what was so unexpected and that given a bit of time to calm our mental-emotional-physical system we gain peace and frame of reference to the hurt and pain that hit and consumed us.


3. GET REAL ABOUT IT

You are hurt, in shock, and possibly in denial. The pain is real. Sit with these and take time. Journal about it, talk about it to a close trusted person that might even be a therapist or coach. Be real about your feelings. Do not hide or deny what has happened, or the hurt that you are suffering. Denial will only prolong your inability to accept what's happened and explore a path forward. Be open to the reality of the situation. For example if you're facing a serious illness to a family member, do not turn away from the implications of the changes that have happened or will be coming to you and them. If you've lost a trusted space, ask yourself if there is any truth to why they left you behind? This honest assessment is our only hope to move forward with a balanced, mental-emotional-physical health, and with the courage you have for facing up to the darkest parts of yourself, you'll be rewarded with your intuition and authenticity deepening during this healing phase of growth.