A lot of people have preparedness and survival plans based on certain factors remaining the same. Maybe they’re convinced their income will remain the same, and they’ll get to stay in their home, their car will keep running, they’ll be able to afford to keep buying food to stash away, everyone will stay happily married, nobody will die…the list is endless. But the most certain thing in life is the uncertain: change.
If the past year has taught us nothing else, it should have reinforced how quickly things can change and how much resiliency matters. Perhaps nothing at all changed for you, but you’ve most certainly noticed others who have faced overwhelming changes. Loss of income, loss of loved ones, loss of freedom, loss of buying power, loss of social interaction, loss of physical possessions as the bills can no longer be paid.
Your ability to deal with these changes will be the difference between success and failure.
I’m not in a unique position. I have faced more than one loss this year that has been devastating. So not only am I dealing with change, but I’m also dealing with grief over losing people I love. As well, one of my kids is locked down in Canada, and we haven’t been able to see each other for over a year.
And that’s just the personal stuff. My business is a target because many of us have unpopular opinions, and we share the unvarnished truth as we see it. Seven people are dependent on this website for income, and I’m determined to persevere. We have been threatened with loss of income and although we’re still doing okay, it will almost certainly happen in the future.
But here’s the thing. We aren’t rolling over and giving up. We’re increasing our sources of revenue with our bookstore and our digital courses. We have a Patreon account. We know that enough people believe in us that we can make the essential changes to stay in business. We are working on even more things to diversify our income to cover our operating expenses and pay our writers.
There are days when I want to curl up under the covers with my dogs and say, “I just want things to be EASY for once.” There are days when I don’t want to turn on the computer or look at my bank balance or do anything serious or strenuous. But I keep going. I’ve been through more challenging times than this, much harder times, and survived and even went on to thrive.
It’s important to grieve when things change.
This could be considered a prepping post or just a plain old ordinary life post. Change will hit you and hit you hard, if not now, at some point in your life. Sometimes you’ll see it coming like a storm on the distant horizon. Sometimes it will smash into you out of the blue, and you’ll be blindsided.
But it’s inevitable.
Some might say it’s important to just keep going, and it is. But I think it’s also important to take the time to grieve. If you put off grief until “a more convenient time”, it will cause you many more problems down the road. Accept the pain and know that it is a natural, normal part of change and life. Be patient with your emotions because they may be quite volatile for a while.
Loss doesn’t just mean that a loved one has died. Maybe he or she is no longer in your life for some reason. Perhaps you’re missing the family get-togethers that have been lifelong traditions, or your former home, or your lifestyle, or your travel plans, or your milestones like graduations and weddings.
Your loss may seem insignificant to others, but that doesn’t make it insignificant to you. You’re allowed to grieve and be sad and not feel guilty about it because someone else’s loss was ‘worse.’ Loss is loss is loss and it hurts.
Don’t wallow in it forever. I set myself a time limit to really FEEL the loss, journal about it, spend time alone in nature, or whatever. And then I move on. That doesn’t mean I’m not still sad – I’m still heartbroken about some losses. But they’ve been mourned, and I can feel the occasional wave of sadness and still keep going.
And then, get your ass in gear.
So you’ve accepted the loss, as terrible as it was. Now it’s time to remember who the heck you are. You are the person who has dealt with every single bad hand life has thrown you, and you will deal with this one too. You have to just keep going even though everything feels like it’s crashing around you. You don’t want Toby’s Nan to wallop you upside the head to slap you out of it.
Handle your business—brainstorm plans. Get out your notebook or planning app and write down your problems. Organize them by levels of urgency and deadlines.
Then go into more detail. What are possible solutions? Will these solutions take time, money, the cooperation of others? Which things can you do easily and get out of the way?
Break it down into small manageable steps. You may have dozens of those steps, but what is that quote? “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
What you cannot do is wait around to be rescued. Especially right now, there are so many people in need, so many who are hurting, you’ll be at the end of a very long line. You have to be the hero of your own story. Whether that means working 18 hours a day at two different full-time jobs to make money to get yourself a place to live, whether it means moving in with family members, whether it means sacrificing possessions and living a simpler life.
You can do this. You can do difficult things. You just have to accept that change has occurred and make a plan to move forward.
Accept the change.
Okay. So the change, whatever it is, has occurred. You’ve grieved. You’ve taken the appropriate actions. You’re now in a whole new mental space. You have to shift your mindset from being in grief mode, fight-or-flight mode, or struggle-to-survive mode. This is the point at which you should finally be able to relax a little.
Sometimes this can be the hardest part. I know it is for me. I’m a fighter by nature, and it’s difficult for me to reach the point where I give in and say, “Okay, I’ve done everything I can. I cannot control this. This is my current circumstance.” It’s hard for me to accept that a person is gone, that a home is gone, that I lost a friend, or that a business idea didn’t succeed. I just want to keep on working at it until I make things go my way.
You may be the same. Fighting can become habitual. Being in that survival frame of mind can become your go-to. This isn’t healthy. You can’t run on adrenaline and force of will forever.
6 healthy ways to handle change
Now is the time you have to learn to accept the change and find peace in it. I wish I could tell you I’ve found some magical way to do this, but a few things that help me are:
- Gratitude: I have a roof over my head. It may not be a fancy roof or as nice as my former roof, but it’s a roof nonetheless. I have food in my cupboards. I have my dogs, family, and friends.
- Find something new to love: There’s always going to be some wonderful little gift of nature in your new setting, whether that’s a trickling stream, a wooded path, or even a dandelion poking up through a crack in the sidewalk to remind you we can bloom anywhere if we have enough will to do it.
- Do things that aid in your peace of mind: Maybe it’s taking a walk or working out at the gym. Perhaps it’s sitting on the beach watching the waves. It could be looking for rocks of a certain type in the creek. Some people find peace in needlecraft or woodcraft or creating something. Don’t just sit there and stare at Netflix eating unhealthy food. That is NOT going to make you feel better.
- Eat as well as you can. When money is tight it can be hard to eat healthfully. But eat things that are as healthy as your budget allows, and nourish yourself with the effort of home-cooked food. Don’t resort to the temporary comfort of a junk food binge. It will not make you feel better in the long run.
- Let people love you. When you are reeling from a dramatic change it’s easy to feel like a burden on others. You don’t want to bring them down so you don’t tell them how bad things are. You don’t want to sound like a whiner. You don’t want to admit what went wrong – perhaps you’re embarrassed. People who really love you don’t care about any of that. They care about you. They want to support you. But they can’t if you won’t let them. If you’ve sort of vanished off the face of the earth for a while, dealing with your crisis, it can seem insurmountable to start that first conversation again. But if you do, you will be rewarded with exactly what you need: love, acceptance, and warmth. Just say, “Hey, I know it’s been a while. I’ve been going through some stuff. I’m sorry for not being available. How are you?” and your loved ones will probably take it from there. And if the response is less than warm? Maybe they’re not your people.
- Be active. Avoid the urge to sit in front of the television or laptop, or to sleep all day. Get up and get moving. Being outside is particularly good for you. Vitamin D from the sun and connecting with nature can be incredibly healing. Whatever you do, get moving.
Things have changed and you must adapt. Keeping yourself mentally healthy, physically healthy, and accepting support from others will help.
Change will make you or break you.
I have had changes in my life that broke me temporarily. We all do. It’s what you do to put yourself back together that matters. It’s how you keep going, how you progress anyway, how you find a new path when your old path is no more, that matters.
Change is not easy. It often hurts. One of my favorite violence dynamics philosophers wrote,
“Why is a caterpillar wrapped in silk while it changes into a butterfly? So the other caterpillars can’t hear the screams. Change hurts.”
Life is everchanging but currently even more so than usual. Sometimes it’s a good thing, but lately, many of the changes we have experienced have been bad. I don’t foresee things getting easier soon. That isn’t meant to discourage you. It’s meant to encourage you to build up your mental reserves and prepare for what’s coming. Let it make you stronger.
How do you handle change?
Have you faced difficult changes over the past year? Do you have tips for those who are undergoing changes in circumstances or losses? Let’s talk about change in the comments.