“There is nothing permanent except change.” ~ Heraclitus

Change is something we all have to face as a part of being human in this world. 

Change comes in many forms and expressions in our lives. 

It can come slowly and gradually, a long progression of one step after another.

Or it may come on suddenly, hitting us with the force of a tidal wave and thoroughly destroying the way things were in one fell swoop.

There are times when we can do our best to plan and prepare for change. Processing larger life changes can help us to adjust to the natural cycles and rhythms of our lives. And there are other times when change comes unexpectedly and without warning. All we can do is learn to ride the waves, to do our best to weather the storm in order to come out the other side. 

Times of intense change are often the most chaotic and tumultuous times of our lives and tend to bring up intense and uncomfortable emotions as well as challenges in terms of how we find our way through the storm. None of us will escape life without having to weather times of unexpected change. Avoidance is not an option. 

If you find yourself swept up in the midst of intense and unanticipated change, it can involve being let go from a job without warning, discovering betrayal in a romantic relationship or a personal health challenge or crisis. Or, it can be being there for someone you love in the face of their own challenges, a human made or natural disaster, or one of the near countless other ways uninvited and often unwanted change can enter our lives and rock us to the core. You might not be able to escape but there are ways that you can weather intense times and come out unbroken and maybe even a little bit stronger than you were before the storm. 

Here are 3 tips to help you to weather the most intense times of change:

1) Step back, Assess and Create a Plan of Action 

In times of crisis all tasks can seem to carry the same emotional weight and importance. It is important to first take a step back and to assess what is essential and what can wait to be dealt with at a later time. Safety for all involved is the number one priority. If it is difficult to take a step back and create a plan of action talk to a trusted friend, a therapist, your spiritual support people or someone who you trust to give you good advice. Find someone who will remain calm and neutral during a crisis. If there are safety concerns for yourself or a loved one call emergency support series or your local 24 hour crisis line for support at any time. 

2) Give Yourself Permission to Not Have the Answers and to Make Choices that are Right for You on your Own Timeline

Our knee jerk reaction is often to take action and to figure out the solutions to problems in order to take steps to move forward. Our logical minds want reassurance that everything is going to be okay. Being logical feels a lot better in terms of figuring out how things are going to work out. The challenge in times of intense change is that we also need to give ourselves the gift of space to work through the associated emotions. We need to process the impact of the changes and to gather more information before jumping into action. When at all possible try to give yourself space before making any major, life altering decisions. Although it is difficult to live in the unknown your future self will thank-you for taking the time to come to the decisions that are right for you. 

3) Balance Action with Self-Care 

In times of crisis it can be so easy to focus all of our energy in jumping into action and taking steps to problem solve. Yet depending on the nature of the challenge we often also need to pace ourselves in order to maintain our own energy and stamina. There are times in life where it takes time for the crisis to pass and we are forced to live in this discomfort for longer than we would like. We can fight against this or we can choose to adapt and surrender to the process. There are times when we need to gear up for a spirit of intense, focused energy. Other times it becomes more like a marathon and going too hard for too long outside the gate can compromise our ability to make it to the finish line, while still maintaining our own well-being. 

As difficult as times of intense change can be remember that as with all things, “this too shall pass”. Times of crisis, by their very nature cannot maintain the same emotional intensity over a long period of time. Even when it feels like the emotions will never subside know that things will settle with time. Prioritizing and taking manageable steps and seeking support while balancing self-care is essential. You will get through this time and you may even discover or strengthen qualities about yourself that you did not realize you possessed. Difficult times can make us stronger, but it is not the difficulty itself that leads to growth, it is in how we choose to respond to times of difficulty that makes all the difference. And even though we cannot always control or prevent difficult times how we choose to respond is within our control.