Counseling Corner: Learning to see change as a positive force

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Life is full of changes. In business, in our families, and in our relationships with friends, nothing ever stays exactly the same.

While most change is gradual and easy to accept, sometimes we face a major transition, often unexpected, that can be potentially frightening and stressful. It doesnít have to be. Itís our choice whether we view a change as an opportunity, or whether we try desperately to maintain the status quo and stay within our comfort zone.

One step in making the most of change is to see it as a chance to add to or improve your world. Maybe this is a time to learn something new, to take a class, to improve your skills or to explore a hobby youíve never had enough time for.

A big transition can also go easier when you live healthfully. Some change can be emotionally depressing and when you add a poor lifestyle it all can seem much worse, so fight back with a healthy approach to life. Exercise, eat well, and donít give in to habits like drugs or alcohol as a means of hiding from the change youíre facing.

A major transition is a time when you may need to turn to your support network. If this change has you feeling sad, confused or overwhelmed, itís a time to ask for help from others. Talk to those close to you who can listen in a non-judgmental way. Simply explaining how things are affecting you can often help you move forward, and sometimes you may find assistance coming from unexpected places.

Adding small changes that you can control to your life is another way of working through a major transition. Maybe it means volunteering or taking some time to just do things for yourself. It can help to make a list of all the stable things still in your life, despite the big change youíre facing.

You might want to keep a daily journal where you write about your feelings and needs and how this transition is affecting you. It can be a place to grieve a little if the transition is making you lose things important to you.

Change can be difficult, but it can also provide opportunities that otherwise might be overlooked. Approach change as a positive experience, and you just may find it is.

Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Send comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit www.counseling.org.

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