Mindfulness and Coping with Change

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Change is inevitable. We have to accept this reality. All we can do is to handle it in the best way we can and keep moving forward. It is how we perceive change that determines whether the experience is interesting, liberating, or rather terrifying. How can we become more resilient in our lives so that unexpected or seemingly uncontrollable change does not throw us off track? The most important step is to accept that change is a part of life. No matter how much we try to control people or events to stay the way we know (so we are able to rest in our comfort zone), everything will change sooner or later. Accepting this fact can help in letting go of the resistance we often feel when confronted with the new or unexpected. Things may not turn out the way we planned or hoped for, but by accepting this reality, we can clear our heads of too many worrying thoughts and give ourselves the space to actually deal with the situation at hand. Tools for experiencing change in daily life include making the intention to stay positive, feeling the emotions that arise, engaging in self-care, and believing in ourselves and in our coping possibilities. Journaling may help us to stay in line with the bigger picture and our core values. We can put our thoughts and worries into words and bring some order to the perceived chaos and the fear of the unknown. Through therapy, we can become more aware that changes in our lives can trigger patterns of thoughts such as: “I could have done better” or “What will happen next?” It is important to remember that we are not our thoughts, even if they feel very real. We can ask ourselves: is this thought really true? Or is it just a mind pattern, arising out of habit or a need to protect ourselves against uncertainty? Through this awareness, we can free ourselves from these limiting mind patterns. It is important to remain open-minded while we organize our future plans. We can do our best to be prepared and to consciously plan ahead. Planning may not free us from having to face stress and uncertainties, but it can help us to feel more secure, resilient, and to approach sudden stressors with a clear and focused mind. Coming back to our bodies time and again and feeling our bodily sensations, feeling our breath, or our feet on the ground, can help bring our consciousness into the present moment. When you need something to lean on, try to find an anchor (breath, sensations in the hands, sounds, etc.) that can help you to feel grounded. Applying self-compassion when we are feeling overwhelmed or insecure can also help. Changes, such as losing a job or breaking up a relationship, can be frightening and very sad. Through mindfulness-based practices, we can acknowledge that this change is hard for us right now and allow all feelings to arise without judgment. Change is part of everyday life. The one thing that stays stable and solid is our inner conscious presence. Through this presence, we can create the space to observe – without judgment– our outer experiences, emotions, thoughts, and sensations in the body.