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Dealing with Change
Diana Robinson, Ph.D. In current business literature, it is generally accepted that lack of willingness to accept change can be a handicap for people in all areas. Although change simply for the sake of change is not good, resistance to change in favor of the status quo is the reason for many individuals and companies being unable to keep up with the times.

Openness to change is therefore seen as being good.

Yet.. there are many types of change in our lives, and it is inevitable that our response to them will vary. Sometimes change can be very painful, particularly those changes that are brought upon us over which we feel as though we have no control and those that come in multiples. It is not always easy to be open to change in all its forms.

I am no rock-climber, but I have read that in that activity there is an adage that one should always maintain at least two points of contact. (The same concept applies in potentially slippery bathroom showers.) It means that, as you move your hands and feet from one place or position to another, you always keep at least two (preferably three) in firm contact with the rock. Even though you are moving from one place to another, you try not to change everything at once in one huge leap. With life changes, we often need to keep similar advice in mind.

Most of us have anchors in our lives. We have places, people, things, situations, possibly religious faith, that function as solid hand-holds, as providing a context for our lives. It may be stressful, but not unusual, for one of these to change. Someone moves away. We change our job or are "laid-off." We are transferred so that we will be doing the same kind of job in a different location, leaving friends and family behind. Someone dies. Some other constant, perhaps health of financial situation, suddenly changes. When one of these events happens, although it may be disruptive, sorrowful, or otherwise having a negative impact upon us, if the other anchors remain constant, we are like the rock-climber who shifts one hand, or one foot, while remaining firmly in contact with the other anchors. In that contact there is safety.

However, there are times when life decides that it will force us to shift several anchors within a short space of time, and these are times when change can become extremely difficult. We may feel ourselves adrift, as though we have neither anchor nor sails, neither rudder nor oars.

At such times it is, of course, important to hold on even more tightly to whatever anchors we still have. We need to tighten our bonds with them, to become even more fully conscious of the extent to which we value and treasure them. Yet the fact remains that we are missing some of our previous anchors. This may mean that we are no longer free to choose our moves in safety, retaining our grip on at least two anchors. Perhaps two are all that we have. The result, if nothing changes, can be either paralysis or peril. We may feel that we must choose between remaining immobile or making a potentially dangerous "one anchor" move.

There is, however, an alternative. One can scan the rock face for new hand-holds, start the search for alternative anchors.

I suppose, in hindsight and as an example of what I mean, that I have done this in the past. I am thinking of a particularly bad time of loss that was followed by several other unchosen changes including of location. With anchors disappearing, it seemed, in all directions, I set search for new ones. I lucked out in my approach to the Chamber of Commerce of my future home long before I moved there. From them I received a multi-dimensional map from which I could envisage my new community with unusual clarity. I subscribed to the newspaper of the new area. Were this happening today I would of course be searching the web for information, local sites, whatever might provide a link, an anchor for me to grasp as I reached forward toward my new situation.

Part of this technique comes from not fighting the problem, not reaching frantically backwards for the anchors that have gone, but accepting their absence. Looking forward, not back. Not that we discard or devalue the past, but that we accept that it is indeed the past, and we reach into the future for the anchors that will help us move into it.

There always are new anchors up there. Sometimes we need to stretch ourselves, to lengthen our reach to get to them, but they are there, and they can help us to maintain our stability as the world changes around us.

� Diana Robinson, Ph.D. 2001
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