Another transition is quickly approaching. I can feel it by the uneasiness that lurks within. I’m not alone. My children feel it. Their restlessness is a giveaway sign that another big change is right around the corner.
There is much yet to be done. Papers, stacked high, liter the counter waiting to be filled out. Unpaid bills lay next to them, both competing for attention. Then, there is the back to school shopping that needs to miraculously get done on top of the many forms that are waiting to be completed.
Aside from the lists of “to-dos,” there lingers within something greater. It is the wonderings and anxiety of what lies ahead. It is in fact the unknown and unforeseen challenges that keep many of us up at night. Thoughts of “Will I be able to make two different drop offs work every morning and still manage to make it to work on time?” and “Will my kids adjust okay to their schools?” are just a couple of those nagging thoughts that can run rampant in our minds. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed before the day has even begun!
But, as the head of the household, I know I set the tone for the day ahead. My kiddo’s eyes are on me watching and looking for guidance on how to handle this new change ahead (no pressure at all). So, I know that in order to help them overcome this transition and to deal with their unrest in a healthy way, I need to first be honest about my own thoughts and feelings regarding what lies ahead. Second, I need to deal with, and not avoid, my own uneasiness about the many new changes that are before us.
Below is an approach I’ve used with myself, as well as my kiddos, in order to help prepare us for new transitions and change. The approach is based off of a technique called, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a research-based approach for dealing with anxious and worrisome thoughts and feelings. A foundational premise behind CBT is that our thoughts, feelings and actions affect and interact with each other in profound ways. The way we think about things matters! Our thoughts affect the way we feel which affects how we choose to act.
I love this anonymous quote, because I think it does a great job summarizing just how important our thoughts are in affecting how we feel and approach our circumstances. “Whatever you hold in your mind will tend to occur in your life. If you continue to believe as you have always believed, you will continue to act as you have always acted. If you continue to act as you have always acted, you will continue to get what you have always gotten. If you want different results in your life or your work, all you have to do is change your mind.”
4 STEPS TO MANAGING CHANGE AND TRANSITIONS
1. Recognize and take captive any negative thought that enters your mind.
Those thoughts of “I can’t do this.” or “This is too difficult.” are a couple examples of such negative thoughts. (If you are a visual person, try taking out a notecard and writing your thought down on one side of it.)
2. Identify how these negative thoughts produce uncomfortable feelings.
For example, the thoughts of “I can’t do this.” and “This is too difficult.” lead to feelings of anxiety and fearfulness.
3. Identify how these negative thoughts and uncomfortable feelings affect how you choose to respond to your circumstances.
4. Seek to exert control over the negative, unproductive thought by replacing it with a positive, constructive thought instead.
(Write this positive thought on the other side of the notecard.)
This way of thinking takes practice, especially if you aren’t used to thinking this way. It will take persistence and determination to keep with it, as those negative thoughts are quick to meander back into our minds. A conscious effort will be needed in order to change the way we think.
There is no doubt. There are many new transitions that lie ahead for us. But, I’ve decided that I’m going to change my mind about how I think about these transitions. Yes, they will undoubtedly be challenging, but I have decided to think about how much stronger I will be because of them. When I think and meditate on these thoughts instead, I can’t help but feel empowered to act confidently that I will be able to handle the transitions that are before us just waiting to be conquered.