Stinkbugs are small, crawly insects with kinky, segmented antennae and thick, shield-shaped wing covers. Many are agricultural pests that suck plant juices that damage crops. They resist most pesticides and multiply like calculators. When disturbed, they turn from anonymous bugs into miniature skunks by emitting a smelly, pungent spray juice with a rancid, rotten scent.
Forced changed acts nasty like that, too. Change ruptures the status quo, so its impact on someone’s attitude and outlook can range anywhere from a minor inconvenience to dangerous trauma. These days forced change is arriving with greater velocity than someone’s ability to absorb it. This absorption conflict can create significant emotional upheaval. Any time strong emotions play bumper cars in the mind, erratic behaviors are a common result.
Large change or small, our minds process change by journeying around a 4-step wheel. The first step includes everything that leads up to and through the change becoming reality. Even when our mind anticipates change, the change itself does not land with atomic impact until the moment it becomes reality.
The real excitement starts then, at stage two, the Panic stage. Here the mind personalizes and internalizes all the potential ramifications of change. “Oh, no!” we worry. “What does this mean to me?” Even worse, we typically project this into a worst-case scenario.
An overt emotional reaction to uncontrollable change is dangerous. Drowning in emotional “what ifs,” we lose touch with logic.
The Panic stage is all about emotion and emotion management. Some handle emotions and manage Worry Circles better than others. People who make quick emotional adjustments will advance from here to stage three (Acceptance) faster than those who don’t.
The Acceptance stage is where we trade emotion for logic and embrace the change for what it truly is: the new reality. This bridge crossing from Panic to Acceptance is vitally important because only after accepting the change can we position ourselves to advance to all that is possible, which arrives in stage four.
Stage four is the Flourish stage. Free of the emotional baggage that’s held us back, we now channel effort and energy into flourishing under the new reality.
Those who’ve circled the relationship wheel more than once recognize these four sequential emotional footprints. Same with folks who’ve moved, switched jobs, changed careers, or dealt with medical problems. Change is inevitable; it benefits all of us to get good at dealing with it.
Whenever change arrives, each of us circles the wheel. Know that, embrace the trip, and run around as fast as you can. Teach others how to do so, too.
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