photo by vladislav-babienko
by Andrea M. Darcy
You walk out on your unsupportive partner at long last. You lose your job that you’ve had for most of your adult life. Your children fly the nest. You leave the country you’ve always known for a new one…. life changing events look different for different people.
Regardless of what life change looks like for you, it can leave you unbalanced, and uncertain of what to do next.
But it felt so good at first….
Feeling guilty because your life change was something you chose? Because you felt excited, even bragged to others about how great it would be?
Stop beating yourself up. It’s normal to feel excited about a new plan and then deflate when the reality of what you’ve taken on sets in. Take that energy and use it instead to take the following steps towards self care.
[At wit’s end after a life changing event and just need to talk to someone who understands? Book an online therapist now, be talking as soon as tomorrow.]
How to navigate life changing events
So how to navigate big change better, then?
1. Quit worrying what people think.
There is an expression, ‘nobody kicks a dead dog’. If people are speaking against you, it’s often as they are jealous, or even scared. You are daring to do something they aren’t, or challenging their world view. It’s going to trigger some people. Let them be nervous.
There is only one person whose opinion you can control here – your own. What can you do to strengthen your own good opinion of yourself? Make a list on paper. Wasting time reacting to others surely won’t be on it.
2. Focus on the support you DO Have.
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Life change can be like a giant, unplanned life declutter. You realise who your real friends are and find you have to let go of friendships you thought were forever.
Yes, it can be shocking and hurtful to find that people you counted on judge you for a life change out of your control. But be open to seeing the people who do want to help you, as this too can be surprising.
If you really have no support at all – if even your friends and family don’t approve of your new life — then don’t overlook the help of a counsellor. They will create a safe, non judgmental space for you to share your worries and can help you find ways to cope.
3. Adjust your habits to fit your new life.
We can’t expect old ways of being to work for new ways of living, and yet that is what many of us do. We try to force fit our old ways to our new life.
Drinking every night, for example, might have been fine when you had a steady job. But now you are unemployed and changing career stream, a few nights at the gym instead can give you the energy and social life you need.
Exercise is what is known as a ‘wellbeing activity’ – something that leaves us feeling positive and balanced. And the more you can veer towards wellbeing activities in times of flux, the better. Sign up to our blog now for your free wellbeing workbook and find what activities work best for you.
4. Open your social circle.
Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash
We move country and talk to people back home using Zoom, Teams or Skype all night over getting out and meeting new people. Or we quit our job to become an entrepreneur, but spend all our time around our old colleagues who hate their lives.
Life change means YOU are changing. And that can mean it’s time to meet people who share your new goals and values and who inspire you.
Yes, it can feel intimidating to put yourself out there. But there is nothing more energising than meeting someone who actually gets what you are going through.
It doesn’t mean you have to cut people out of you life, but it can mean you need to have some honest conversations with people close to you, or set some boundaries.
5. Stop pretending you are ‘fine’.
Feel listless and exhausted all the time? Here’s a big truth about life change – it is emotional. It can even entail going through the stages of grief for the life you have left behind. This means shock, anger, sadness, tiredness, you name it.
Yet many of us try to get through life changing events by seeming ‘strong’. We tell ourselves there is ‘no time for tears’.
But think of a beach ball. Have you ever tried to keep one under water for an extended period of time? That is what holding down emotions is like – it takes all our energy and focus.
Sometimes an emotional purge is what is needed to get our spark back. Journalling can be a great help here – read our article on powerful and different ways to make journalling work for you.
6. Drop the comparison.
“But he/she moved countries and had an amazing experience, what is wrong with me?” “But when he finally walked out on his abusive wife he felt great, why am I so depressed?”.
You are an individual. You are made up of thousands of experiences that are unique to you, and you are going to respond to life and life stress in your own way. Comparing yourself to others just adds to the stress.
7. Choose a bigger ‘time container’.
It’s been a year since you lost a sibling – why are you still grieving? Or you have been an empty-nester for months now, why do you still miss the kids?
Most of us drastically underestimate the time it takes to adjust to change, or assume that adjusting is a straight line. It isn’t. It’s a wiggly, up and down, around and around process.
Take the amount of time you think you need and at minimum double it. How much better does that feel?
What would your ten year-old self have to say about where you are now in life? Would they see the accomplishments and the strength you are currently overlooking? What about your 85-year old self, would they be as worried as you are, or would they think you will be just fine?
9. And if it all feels way, way too much….
Reach out. Talk to someone. Again, if you feel you have nobody to talk to, or everyone around you is just too invested in what you do? Then consider a talk therapist. They have no agenda other than to help you feel back in balance, and they can help you find clarity when life change has you confused.
Ready to face life change head on? We connect you with top London counselling psychologists who can help. Not in London our the UK? Our booking platform offers UK-wide registered therapists and also online therapists you can talk to from anywhere.
Andrea M. Darcy is a health and wellbeing expert, trained in person-centred counselling and coaching. She often writes about trauma, relationships, and ADHD, and advises people on how to plan their therapy journey. Find her on Instagram @am_darcy