How to deal with big changes in your life
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Everyone knows that part of living life is dealing with the plot twists it so eagerly provides. These changes can be sudden or expected, but they will impact us in big ways. If you've been going through some big changes and are hoping to find some help in dealing with them, this post is for you.
I recently relocated to the Netherlands and I can tell you that despite me planning and waiting eagerly for my arrival here, I have been through some rough times trying to adapt. Here are some strategies I would like to share with you as I write this 6 months into my arrival.
First, take in the changes. I found that resisting change makes it very hard to deal with it. How can you deal with something you don't accept and are not willing to see? The first thing to do to deal with it is to see it clearly and accept it. And trust me, I know how hard that could be! Changes can sometimes feel like your life as you know it is falling apart. However, it's important to remember that just because it's falling apart doesn't mean you have to fall apart with it. Take a good look at what is changing, and see the facts to face them. Take the time to grieve the old situation if you need to in order to welcome the change. Once you've taken stock of what is happening, it's time to address it.
This is the moment for you to look for ways you can take action. Here's it's good to think "what can I do?" Start to make a distinction between the things that are out of your control and the things that you can control. Often times when big changes occur, we feel like we're being swept along with them helplessly. Often, we can't help the change. The one thing I can guarantee is under your control is the mindset you have in facing them. Try to analyse how you're reacting to the change and the challenges it brings, and ask yourself "If I didn't find this challenging, how would my behavior be different? Would I also feel different about the change?" Once you start seeing that you can control yourself and your mindset, you'll start to see paths to action.
Finally, take action! Just the feeling that you are able to do something, anything, will give you a sense of control and make you feel like you're not helpless in facing these changes. Action can come in all different ways. You can enlist the help of a partner, family member or friend to help you tackle challenges you face. You can also start planning how things will be from here on out after things have changed. Taking, any steps, however small, will give you immense power in feeling like an actor in the change. Before you know it, you'll be in a much better state, taking control of the change and making it your own to thrive in.
These were the tips, and you can read until the end of this blog post if you'd like a concrete example. I'll share my own experience of how I dealt with the move and some challenges I faced when I first arrived.
I moved to the Netherlands to join my husband who has lived here for several years. I couldn't wait, because I had recently graduated from university with a degree in psychology and I was told that as soon as I arrive, I can apply and start practicing my dream job right away. When I arrived, however, things weren't what they seemed. Very quickly, I learned that being able to work as a therapist here the way I envisioned was quite complicated and that it would probably take me years, if ever, before I could practice. I was devastated. All those years of studying and training and dreaming were falling apart right before my eyes.
At first, I didn't want to accept that. I was happy to have ended a 4-year long-distance relationship and to finally live with my husband who was thriving here. I didn't want to accept that I would have to put everything on hold, or maybe never be able to work. I fell into a depression because I was resisting the change and holding on to fragments of what used to be the life I expected to live here. Eventually I realized that I couldn't keep fighting it, and started to accept the change.
Over the following months, I worked hard on seeing my move here in a different light. I actively thought of how grateful I am to be in such a beautiful country with the love of my life. Acceptance of what I couldn't control helped me seek out the things I could. I started looking around for alternative ways to practice and reaching out to fellow psychologists who have been through the same situation as me. Little by little, a new life was forming before my eyes, and I was learning to love it.
Today, I have realized that there are so many more opportunities for me to give my services as a psychologist to others than I realized. I can still live my dream of helping people but in different ways than I had expected, and that has been salvation from my depression and devastation. All it took was seeing this change for what it was: an opportunity for a new life. I just had to figure out what that life was going to look like.
I hope this post helped you see that big changes can be overcome. It seems tough at first, but with perseverance and sometimes stubbornness in your desire to make it work, you will find a way. A path will open up, and you just have to take your first step and walk it.