The 5 skills you need to develop to cope with change in a better way
Life is like a train ride. There are so many different intersections you can take. There are so many stations you can stop at. And there are so many distractions that can impede your train of life of proceeding. You simply want your life-train to keep progressing.
To keep your life-train moving is also referred to as self-regulation. Self-regulation is crucial to dealing with the changes in our lives. It is the ability to monitor and manage your energy states, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in order to produce positive results such as well-being, loving relationships, and learning. Self-regulation is all about how we deal with stressors and anxieties. And how we can transform these stressors and anxieties into motivators to keep our train of life progressing. You could say that self-regulation is a set of continuous personal change skills. The most important skills that we will delve into are: awareness, acceptance, taking responsibility, tenacity, and resilience.
Sharpening the Saw
A book that changed my life and that I still read yearly is “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. I have incorporated his lessons in this course. The 7th habit — Sharpen the Saw — is very suitable for regulating and keeping your life train progressing. He says:
We must never become too busy sawing to take time to sharpen the saw.
Sharpening the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have — You. It means having a balanced way to maintain the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual. Examples are:
- Physical: Beneficial eating, exercising, and resting
- Social/Emotional: Making meaningful social connections with others
- Mental: Learning, reading, writing, and teaching
- Spiritual: Spending time in nature, meditating, music, and art
Living a balanced life means taking the necessary time to maintain these four areas. It’s all up to you. You can maintain yourself through relaxation. Or you can burn yourself out by overdoing everything. We have limited time and cannot focus constantly on all four areas. You have to balance out your life train maintenance schedule.
Once again, I want to emphasize that all 4 areas of obtaining a balanced life are equally important. It’s about finding the right balance for you. Balancing this out with your evolving self is an ongoing process. If you succeed in balancing these areas out, you create growth and change in your life.
Maintaining the mental aspect of your life
Self-regulation is a big part of the mental aspect of the four dimensions. Learning is imperative to develop self-regulation. Be mindful of investing your time wisely. In life, especially nowadays, we have so many forces that pull our attention away from us. Companies are battling for the consumers’ attention.
In this chaos of Facebook, the news, Netflix, Spotify and 100 open chat messages, being able to manage these distracting factors well has become a predictor for success. Learn to focus your attention on yourself first. Only then can you develop self-regulation.
Awareness is actually the cornerstone of any change you want to accomplish in life. For every life event, change is inherent. You start raising a puppy, start a new relationship, lose someone who’s close to you, or start a new job. All these life events come with change, which can cause stress and anxiety. Awareness is key to understanding the world of change we are immersed in. First, and foremost, you have to understand the process of your change.
After you become aware of the life event and associated stressors you have immersed yourself in, you can start building your acceptance of these stressors and the implications of this life event. A well-known uttering in society is that every action has its consequences. And no, these consequences are not always positive. Firstly, we should learn to accept the negative implications of our actions. Secondly, it’s important to focus all our attention on matters that we can influence. A quote I like is ”give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change what can be changed, and the wisdom to know the one from the other”. In this quote, the serenity is the acceptance part I’m referring to.
In general, we humans tend to fall back to a victim mentality when we encounter adversity. Like for example: that person obstructed me from hitting my goal. Or: the weather was not good enough which affected my mood and that’s why I was not motivated to work on the project. We tend to reason ourselves out of adversity by blaming external factors. Will this lead you to your goal? No. Once you have determined the matters that are within your control to influence the outcome, you can start to Take Responsibility and devise a plan to achieve your goal by capitalizing on what’s in your control. That’s not always easy and I’m struggling with this on a daily basis as well.
We have all been there, wanting a certain change in our lives. To find a partner or switch jobs. We want it now and because in this society, instant gratification is omnipresent, we expect those things to happen right away. You couldn’t be more wrong. Change often takes time. It takes relentless effort, persistence, and tenacity. A company I worked at had a Tenacity award. Why? Because it’s an indicator of performance. Oftentimes, you have to keep going despite several setbacks to achieve a goal. The same counts for all the adversity you’ll encounter dealing with events in your life.
And to finalize the 5 ways to improve self-regulation, I’ll highlight the importance of resilience. Resilience is kind of our mood regulator during a life event. Resilience is helpful while coping with change for three main reasons:
- It helps you to cope with the stress caused by an overwhelming situation and revert you back to a calm state.
- Being resilient helps you maintain peace of mind and a balanced lifestyle during stressful situations.
- Resilience offers protection from mental and physical health issues due to stress and hence too much cortisol in your body.