A significant element of living a happy and healthy life is one’s ability to adjust to change, and as Heraclitus eloquently put it several millennia ago, ‘change is the only constant in life’. It’s how we adjust to the changes around us which determines whether we move through change healthily or get derailed and overwhelmed by the experience.
I have been reflecting on adjustment this week –the processes by which we negotiate change, accept losses, integrate gains, and plot our path on new trajectories. Most of us are creatures of habit to a certain degree, we know our lives and our places in it, and maybe even have a good sense of where life is going, yet our plans are always subject to minor and major change along the way. Loss of a relationship, bereavement, loss of a job, disability, ill health, divorce, financial loss, the birth of a baby, marriage are all examples of the types of significant change which routinely occur in life and can require significant personal adjustment.
A friend of mine is expecting a new baby in the coming weeks and she is already anticipating the adjustment process of having a new family member. Although not her first baby, she recognises that the new addition will not only bring material changes to living arrangements and family routines, but also a great deal of personal change such as time restrictions, physical transition, emotional ups and downs, and the mental adjustment to becoming a mother of two. Having experienced a period of postnatal depression following the birth of her first child, my friend is wisely reflecting on the adjustment this significant change will require and thinking about potential strategies which may make the transition and adjustment easier.
Of course change occurs whether we adjust or not and many people choose (unconsciously or consciously) to resist change at all costs.
What are some of the signs of maladjustment to change?
- Fear –having a high degree of fear of change based on previous experiences or anxiety
- Rigidity –mentally and emotionally fighting the change and being inflexible to the new situation or possibilities
- Denial –being unable or unwilling to accept that circumstances have changed, becoming stuck
- Depression –a significant decrease in the enjoyment of life, low mood, low energy
How we handle change determines the degree of its impact to the ongoing functioning and enjoyment of our lives. Unsurprisingly, adjustment difficulties bring many people to counselling. Loss in particular can be a very difficult experience for people to negotiate on their own, and therapy can help clients come to terms with loss and can help identify strategies for moving forward in life.
Common change and adjustment problems we work with:
- Divorce/loss of relationship
- Postnatal depression
- Midlife crisis
- Ill health
- Depression and anxiety
- Loss of job/career change
If you are struggling with change or adjustment problems, therapy may help. Email for an appointment at my Wimbledon counselling practise mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org