Published: 25th February 2017
Coping with change
There is nothing as constant as change. Here is how you learn to cope with it
There is an interesting French proverb, when translated goes like this, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.
What does this really mean?
Would it be an explanation of reality versus perception, for example, when we stare at a waterfall for a few minutes or even a few hours it looks the same, but in reality it has changed so much during this time, the water has changed, the wind has probably caused the shape itself to change, but in our minds it appears to be the same.
Perhaps, It could be about problem or weakness fixing, lets take an example of an old house that needs repairing, you fix one place and immediately some other place rips open, and before long you could be in the same place that you originally were when you started out.
It could be all this, but suppose we look at it from a different lens.
Change is defined as “an act or process through which something becomes different”. So therefore its omnipresent, everything will become different overtime, and we need to see how we can cope with it
There is an interesting model on managing change, adapted from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross a Swiss-American psychiatrist, and the author of the groundbreaking book “On Death and Dying
Her theory of the five stages of grief can be adapted to managing change, and incidentally, has been done so for the past few decades.
Change involves loss at some level, so the "Five stages" model can be effectively used to understand people's reactions to change. In fact she called them defense mechanisms or coping mechanisms, and we need to move through it in order to manage change.
Lets look at these five stages, with a hypothetical situation, lets assume that you are in a job and you have received a transfer order to a tier three city, this is big time change, lets see how these stages play out.
First comes Denial, “This can’t be happening to me”. We don’t want to believe that it’s happening, not to us anyway. So denial is the first step however it’s temporary.
Then comes Anger. "Why does it have to happen to me? Somebody is against me.
Then Bargaining follows, “can I take it next year, I have aging parents to look after.”
Depression is next, when nothing works out, a sense of melancholy sets in.
Then finally comes Acceptance, “I guess it’s going to be ok”, “I might even enjoy it”.
Change is a constant, and so everyone will go through these stages at some point in their lives, the movement from denial to acceptance completes the circle.