How do You React to Unplanned Change?
I was in church this morning, which is merging with another church; today was the first day the two were brought together. I used to attend both at one time but this came as a surprise. However, what should have been a holy experience was interrupted by a woman who sat in front of me, who was obviously very displeased. She kept shaking her head and making some snide comments that were loud enough to be heard.
What should have been an uplifting service was now – not. It made me think of both the how and why one reacts to unplanned change; heck, change in general. If things don’t turn out the way we anticipated, we either accept or not. Both, however, can lead to some anxiety and resistance.
When we anticipate the future, this can lead to worry about what that might look like. The fear center in our brain – the amygdala – activates and releases certain chemicals into our system. How we have responded to scary situations sets how we react when those situations threaten us in some way. Usually, these situational outcomes are created in our mind, although our responses become more automatic, especially if we have the same responses over time. So, the worry can also come out as anger, like the woman in church.
I don’t know if she didn’t like the distance she now has to drive, if she was upset that new members were coming in, or the new practices they implemented; I do know, however, that she was not happy and did not either care or realize that she let it show. Getting in our ‘rightness’ leads to resisting change of any type: our thoughts, our way. The question to ask is: if you would rather be right in your way or to be happier? The thought here is that you win so I lose but, in the grand scheme of things, no one is winning.
You can either wait and see, or go along with, the change or you can resist. You never know if the change may actually be enjoyable but when you think negative, you get negative and are not open. As we can never know an outcome, stop trying to control it. Be open enough to ‘go with the flow’ and wait it out; this will allow you time to make an informed decision for how you want to proceed from then on. Going back to the woman I spoke of earlier, she can either go to another church or she can give it time to see how things go. I prayed that she opens her heart enough to find out.
We all have the ability to assess how we respond to adverse situations and unplanned change; we also have the ability to learn to control how we view those situations and our responses. Go back and think of a time when you had an unplanned event and how you looked at it and how your responded; rate the magnitude of the event (finances, job loss, divorce, etc. all have high magnitudes), and then begin developing solutions to fall back on. Challenge and reframe your thoughts so you feel more in control. I pray that you open your heart enough to find out.