The beginning of a year can be a catalyst for new intentions, for conscious decisions around what it is in our lives that we would like to change. These changes can seem small (cutting back on caffeine – though I’ll be honest, that’s a big one for me) or even sometimes quite large (new career, a move etc). It is where the whole “new year resolution” comes from. We like to start the new year with a fresh view and thoughts around making a change in our lives. I am not one that makes resolutions for the new year, have never really gotten on board with it, but for some people, it really pushes them to make that change that they have wanted and as I have always said, you should always do what makes you feel comfortable and happy (so this is not a post about why you should/shouldn’t have a new year resolutions).
One of the first things that I teach my students in their first year of high school is all about change and the challenges that arise from it. I feel that if we can acknowledge the change and the challenges that the change presents, then we can look into healthy ways to deal with what is in front of us, whether we have control over it or not.
There are many times change occurs in our lives. Sometimes it’s a change that we have enacted ourselves. Something that we have a large amount of control over. Other times, however, we have very little control over changes that happen and this is where it can become quite difficult to deal with. No matter the type of change, it can have an impact one way or another on our mental health. Just like with everything else, we need to have coping mechanisms put in place that suit us to support ourselves and others when there is an impact from change.
One of the many things that I have learnt over the years is how to deal with changes that we have very little control over. This has become more prevalent in the last couple of years when there are many things that have occurred that are out of our control. Being able to deal with these changes has been hard. It has taken a large amount of inner work and reframing of my thinking to help myself understand that I cannot do much with things that I cannot control, in particular, other people’s behaviours. We do not have control over the decisions other people make. We might not agree with them, we might even try to convince them to change their mind, but in the end, we don’t make the decisions for them. It is hard, especially if their decision directly (or even indirectly) affects us. It can lead to anger, frustration, and at times despair. All emotions that are valid and should be recognised when they occur, but emotions that if we hold onto, can detrimentally affect our overall mental health and wellbeing. In these situations, we have to find ways to deal with the impact so it does not adversely affect us. For me, I have learnt to acknowledge the emotion that presents itself, use my toolkit I have developed to enhance my mental health (which have been spoken about in previous posts) and then work on the things that I can control in the situation, which may include making a conscious decision to change something in my life. As I have previously mentioned, this is not easy and I have been practising this over quite a few years (and at times, still need to work on dealing with it and that’s okay). It is also something that every individual needs to work on that best suits themselves. The tools that I use, do not necessarily work for everyone.
On the flip side, when we control our decisions around change, it can bring forth a feeling of being free and sometimes can really heal our inner selves. No matter what the change is that we want to make, if we have really considered what we want to do and then moved forward with the change, it can give us that boost in life that sometimes we need. These decisions at times are also not easy. It may be about changing a relationship, moving careers, packing up and going on a journey, or even cutting back on that caffeine. Most of the time our big life decisions are challenging, they take a lot of work and can be quite scary. One thing that I know, is that if the decision needed to be made and it was the right decision within your control, then the weight that you may have been feeling can be lifted right off your shoulders and it feels so good.
No matter what, change in our lives is inevitable. By having practices in place to support ourselves, change does not have to be the thing that we are scared of. Find the practices that enhance your mental health that suit you and use these when those changes occur.