With all the unknowns out there, the one guarantee that we will all experience professionally (and personally) is change. Whether we are changing careers, changing job titles, restructuring our departments, change is constant.

Whenever we make a change, even if it is positive (i.e. a promotion, new milestone, marriage, new baby, new job), there is loss. And with loss there is grief. There is no right way to grieve or wrong way to grieve as long as we are not unconsciously engaging in unhealthy distractions. Sometimes grief doesn’t show up until years after a change. It can also show up before a change (months) or during a change. There is no time frame. We are living during a time when our culture, in my opinion, gives very little allowance for transitions and has very little room for grief. “Hurry up and grieve” is a common experience for individuals who have gone through major loss. There also seems to be a sense of shame for being sad when someone feels like they “should” be celebrating. A newly married person can be blissfully in love. And yet if they are choosing to be a healthy partner, their life can no longer be about “I.” Things like a move or a job change now involve another. And there can be loss in this. A lot of individuals don’t discuss this for fear that people will think they are unhappy. Even moving into a dream job or getting a pay raise might be more responsibility where things become less simple. “I should be happy because I got what I wanted,” despite being overwhelmed and insecure about the newness of their position or income.

It is in the act of negating our true feelings that can keep us stuck in the “not so fun” emotion we are experiencing. The key is to acknowledge all of our feelings. And know they don’t always make sense. They aren’t always logical. You get to be happy, feel celebratory and feel sad all at once. You don’t have to choose. It can be a rollercoaster ride during times of significant transition. Expect that you or your colleagues can go from happy to sad to moody within minutes during times of more significant change.  You will be that much more prepared to support yourself and your colleagues if you deepen your own awareness of how you personally define and be with change.

Consider the following questions:

How do I feel about change? Do I like change? Do I resist change? How do I respond to change? Do I go with the flow? Do I freeze? Do I try to control things in an attempt to minimize change? Do I avoid change? Do I have a healthy relationship with change?

Once you have a deeper understanding of how you experience change, you are that much more able to be a supportive presence to the people you engage with in your work and personal life.

“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.”
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

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