Change

Change- A Constant in a World of Uncertainty

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It’s funny how we take things for granted- our life circumstances, health, and relationships. But the truth is, in a matter of an instant, all of that can change. It can all be lost.

Really, the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said it best: “The only constant in life is change.” Yet, every time life sweeps the rug from beneath our feet, so to speak, it takes us to our knees. It’s like we don’t see it coming, although life experience would most certainly tell us that it was bound to happen.

Truthfully, it’s only when change occurs that we realize the value in a moment that’s been lost. It’s actually quite ironic how the most insignificant things can be of such value when we look back.

I remember being completely awestruck by the lights, the smoke in the air, the massive buildings towering above as we drove through. I was nineteen years old, and to say the least, less than responsible in my youth. I was riding shotgun in my boyfriend’s 1987 Nissan Pathfinder. Let me tell you, I loved that car.

We were on our way to Frenchtown, a fifteen-minute drive outside the bustling metropolis of Missoula. Don’t ask me what for.

I don’t know what it was about the Smurfit-Stone Mill that caught my eye that summer’s night. But, at that moment, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I was truly drawn to it.

It would be roughly six years later, in the heat of the great recession, that the first words would be spoken of the paper mill closing. Smurfit-Stone, an industry giant, provided lucrative jobs for over 400 workers in Missoula County. The mill had been in operation for over fifty years, leaving so many grappling with the loss of their entire livelihoods in a matter of an instant.

Today, you can still feel the heavy energy in the air when you drive by the mill. Up until recently, it had stood frozen in time, just as it did on the last day of its operations. The day so many workers clocked out for the last time.

I still drive by from time to time when I want to get out of the house and think. It’s funny how as you get older, the seconds, minutes, hours, days- they all start to blur together. But, sixteen years later, that moment of driving through the mill has stood apart. Who would have thought?   

What happened to the mill in Frenchtown is a tragic reminder of a sobering truth in our world – nothing stays the same forever. Life is fragile, and no moment should be taken for granted.

The truth is, life is constantly changing. And, for many, that can be hard to cope with. We fight to hold on and we fight to let go. But, there are ways to lessen the blow of life’s ebb and flows. Below are four tips to help you gracefully manage change in your world.

Celebrate the Positive

It’s easy to get caught up in all the negative. To get tangled up in future tripping or to focus on all the things you’ve lost. But, retrain your brain not to do that. Instead, think of all the positives in your current life and the great things that could blossom from change.

Often, great things are born from painful endings. As it should be though, without those rough endings, most of us would go on our merry way, happy or not, with the same old mundane, redundant script in our lives.

If you’re struggling with seeing the positive, try taking five minutes out of each day to write a list of the things that you’re grateful for. Not only will this help you to be happier, but it will also help you to move to a more positive frame of reference.

Manage Your Stress

Honestly, managing stress is much easier said than done. The truth is, we can’t always control what life throws at us, but we can manage how we respond to it by taking care of ourselves.

Making a conscious effort to do things that fill your cup, such as exercise, practicing hobbies, or simply just getting enough sleep, can make a big difference. By doing these things, you create an impenetrable buffer between yourself and the world that stress can’t easily permeate.

The problem is, however, that culturally we’re conditioned to be productive, to put everything else before our own self-care. In fact, many people carry around the false belief that self-care is really a selfish act. But, in reality, it’s not selfish at all.

If you want to weather change, you need to take the time to take care of you. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and do the things that keep you healthy and happy!

Find Acceptance

In general, there are two ways that people cope with change. They either choose to escape it and avoid dealing with the circumstances life has thrown at them, or they face it head-on and deal with the garbage that life has tossed their direction.

When we escape, we do things that cause us to steer clear of confronting whatever brings us discomfort. Our avoidance manifests in a multitude of unhealthy ways, including addiction and poor relationships.

Truthfully, the best way to cope with life’s challenges is to face them head-on. We must confront change to process and accept it. Change isn’t something we can fight, so we must embrace it and adapt to living with it.

Seek Support

If life has thrown a wrench at you and you find yourself unable to heal or move on, you may need to lean on others for support. Take the time to seek out someone who you trust to talk to.

If you’re really struggling, you may also benefit from some professional help. Too often, shifts in life lead to mental health struggles, such as bouts of depression and anxiety.

To get help, start by researching local therapists. If you live in a remote area where there isn’t one nearby, give online therapy a try! It can be strange to talk with a therapist, but for many it can serve as a lifeline!

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