Change is unavoidable. Sometimes we invite it by starting a new job or moving house. Other times, it is unpleasantly forced upon us without warning, like the pandemic proceedings of 2020. If you struggle to adapt to change, it may seem like everyone else around you acclimatises effortlessly and instantly. This is not the case. Our brains are hard-wired to resist change, although there are techniques that we can learn to override this system.
Why Do We Struggle To Adapt To Change?
As we grow up, our brains are inundated with new information and experiences. We quickly learn what behaviours are advantageous and what we should avoid, and repeat these things in order to survive.
It is our number 1 goal in childhood to feel safe, i. e. to make sure we will not get abandoned by our caregivers. This goal determines how we act, feel and think. Any change to these behaviours may appear to be dangerous. It’s fair to say that this manner of thinking accompanies us throughout our lives. It leads us to follow behaviours that feel safe with regards to politics (‘political correctness’), family life (traditions), professional environment and so much more.
The more we do something, the more ingrained it becomes in our neural pathways, causing our brains to favour familiarity as a means of safety. When faced with changes to our routines, our brains detect a possible threat, generating a spike in the stress hormone, cortisol. This makes us feel uneasy and in danger.
The way in which we deal with this stress is much less pre-determined by evolutionary processes. In fact, researchers are gaining a much better understanding of how to take action against our aversion to change, which has prompted the development of self-help techniques and targeted approaches to therapy.
Strategies That Help Us To Welcome And Adapt To Change
When we experience change, our cortisol levels increase. In small doses this can be healthy and encourages us to navigate challenges competently. Combined with unhealthy lifestyle choices, our cortisol levels become dangerously elevated, which can lead to problems with both physical and mental well-being.
Reduce the amount of cortisol in your bloodstream by avoiding alcohol and smoking, and establishing a good sleep pattern. Research also suggests that cortisol levels may be minimised by taking a break from screen time.
Purposefully Expose Yourself To New Things
Set yourself a challenge, such as beginning a new hobby or learning a different language. This takes the brain out of its comfort zone, activating new neural pathways and regenerating cellular activity. If you choose to embrace the changes that are somewhat in your control, the next time you encounter an unanticipated change, you will be armed with the confidence to deal with it.
In addition to making you more receptive to change, learning new skills has been linked to the prevention of cognitive decline.
Focus On Your Internal Dialogue
How you talk to yourself plays a large part in determining how well you will cope with change. Thoughts such as ‘I can’t cope with this’ will reinforce your struggle, whereas, thinking ‘let’s take this one step at a time’, helps to prepare you for the transition.
Everyone engages in self-talk, although you may only be acutely aware of it. This is part of the problem. The inner dialogue that runs through your mind can affect your emotions and performance either positively or negatively, depending on what it is saying. For example, a 2015 study found that individuals who engaged in negative self-talk before delivering a speech showed much higher public speaking anxiety, however, when self-talk was reinforcing, anxiety was significantly lower.
Increasing your awareness of self-talk can be challenging. Changing its message, even more so. That voice in the back of your mind has been present for your entire life, yet it is unlikely that you have ever stopped to think about whether or not it adversely affects your beliefs and behaviours.
Change Your Mindset With Dr Jan’s BrainTuning® System
Dr. Jan C. Wulff has practiced medicine for over 30 years, alongside working as a life coach for the last 15. His fascination with how the human mind helps us to cope with stress and change prompted the development of his 5-Step BrainTuning® System.
Through 1-to-1 or group coaching, Dr. Jan provides the pathway to unlocking a true understanding of the self, encouraging you to keep check on your thought patterns and to identify the unique way in which you view the world. Once your thought awareness is elevated, you are able to replace negative thoughts with more positive alternatives. By practising relaxation techniques to slow the mind, you take authority of your inner dialogue and feel more equipped to cope with change.
Dr. Jan teaches mindfulness techniques through 6 unique perspectives, which allows your more positive self-talk patterns to become permanent. By reflecting on new experiences whereby you have successfully navigated change, you will reinforce your positive mindset and feel empowered.
Book Your Discovery Call
If you struggle to adapt to change, or feel you would benefit from taking ownership of your thoughts, book a Discovery Call with Dr. Jan. During your complimentary 20-minute chat, Dr. Jan will gain a basic understanding of your mindset and provide you with actionable strategies that will allow you to begin identifying your thought patterns.
To embrace change, you must make a change. Book your appointment with Dr. Jan today.