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Emails to my Therapist

On Getting Used to Change: 9 Ways

Dear Nicholas, I never thought I had a problem with change until recently. I thought I had a fairly adventurous approach to each new part of life. Now I know for sure that I need to pick up some coping-with-change skills. I need to start getting used to things changing without my having any vote on the matter at all.

Change certainly doesn’t begin with aging. But it does seem to pick up its pace a lot in one’s later years. And, now that I think about it, aging does start at birth.

I’ve been lucky in that so many of the changes in my life have been welcome. I didn’t have a lot of early world-shattering experiences as so many people do.  Only in the last few years–my late sixties–have I started to be really gut-knowledgeable about how much huge stuff I don’t control.

getting used to change

People keep getting sick and dying, that’s the thing.

And, as I’ve mentioned here before, my skin is not the neat fit it used to be. Also, I suddenly need reading glasses to see the Sunday crossword puzzle. Minor things, but they do get my attention.

Here are three things I’ve come up with that are already helping me look at out-of-(my)-control change–for better or worse–as normal. Of course, some techniques don’t apply at all to some situations.

1. Make it a goal

. Treat learning to deal better with change as a project, a challenge. For me, that puts a positive spin on the effort.

2. Know I’ll get used to each change A friend in a nursing home said to me one day, “You can get used to anything.” And, in fact, I already think of well-aged skin as normal, in fact almost admirable. Not so easy to deal with a death, but I do know and need to remember that any blow eventually gets incorporated into a new way of life.

3. Find some unexpected good in what has happened. This can happen immediately or later. For example, my little world was pretty idyllic

until twin babies suddenly arrived  and crashed into my little queendom

but those babies turned into the best friends anyone could have.

getting used to change

I Googled in search of more tips on coping with change, found a bazillion of them, and only a few of them suited me. Here are the ones that did.

4. Do what’s in my power to make change better or more tolerable. No-brainer, should have thought of that one.

5. Find opportunity in the new situation, rather than seeing it as all setback and loss. A highly personal example: menopause was hellish, but it led to me getting medication that has made life better than it had been before.

6. “Don’t Expect Stability” says Harvard Business Review. Why did I ever think everything or anything was permanent?

And then there’s your advice, Nicholas:

7.  Stay in the moment

8. When it’s someone else’s life, remember that it’s their journey and not mine.

9. Be grateful for what is and has been.

I remember when I wrote you that Joel had died and you wrote back a three-word sympathy note that was so helpful: “Gratitude for Joel.”

Thanks again. Don’t change.


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  • Kenju
    February 9, 2019 at 11:58 pm Reply

    I definitely agree with #5! I can’t do anything about growing older except to welcome it as a great alternative to dying!

    • Peggy Payne
      February 10, 2019 at 1:30 am Reply

      I’m interested in the good you’re finding in the process, Kenju

  • Andy Arnold
    February 10, 2019 at 1:16 am Reply

    So well said and helped me along my path. Thanks

    • Peggy Payne
      February 10, 2019 at 1:29 am Reply

      I’m glad, Andy. Thank you!

  • February 10, 2019 at 3:56 am Reply

    Good post Peggy – the more things change, the more they stay the same. I like your variations of re-framing. I read the Buddha said “Everything that has a beginning has an ending – make peace with this, and all will be well”. Pretty comprehensive, and I feel peaceful when I remember it.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 10, 2019 at 4:43 am Reply

      Thanks for the Buddha reminder, Bob. That sums it up nicely.

  • Peggy Clover
    February 10, 2019 at 3:47 pm Reply

    I was in your class one summer at Meredith and I really enjoy your blog posts. I find writing helpful. Learning to focus on the good things can be challenging, but it is a good exercise.
    Thanks for being so open to sharing.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 10, 2019 at 6:40 pm Reply

      And thanks for your showing up here, my sister Peggy. I too find writing the way to works things out in my mind. Often, when I start I don’t know where I’ll wind up!

  • February 11, 2019 at 12:17 pm Reply

    Thank you for this, especially the reminder of number nine. Unfortunately it is easy to forget in the day to day living. Focus on gratitude!

    • Peggy Payne
      February 11, 2019 at 3:31 pm Reply

      Yes, it’s shockingly easy to forget. Thanks, Sharon!

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