How to Deal With Change When You Are A Creature of Habit

Change is good isn’t it?

Change will happen; it is a formidable concept that can either bring excitement or dread. If change did not occur, life would be monotonous wouldn’t it? This is a phrase I have been trying to convince myself of as I embark on a gigantic change at work. These changes cannot be avoided or controlled by myself so I am having to come to terms with this slowly and hopefully on my own terms.

A creature of habit

The fact that I spent over a year parked in the same spot every day in the same spot indicates I am a creature of habit. I take comfort in the familiar and love routine. My job has been at the same place for sixteen years, although significant changes have occurred; most people would have moved on or aimed for promotion but I am happier focusing on my job as a teacher and doing it well. I am also in the same job because it is convenient for my family, which are my focus. This arrangement has been convenient for me and my lifestyle; having the same, supportive boss for sixteen years has made the wild road of teaching, with its peaks and troughs bearable.

So, when my boss told me she was retiring from teaching, I felt a tightness in my chest and my head was swirling with so many ‘what ifs’ and questions. I have had over a year to process this revelation, however, with three weeks to go till the last day of term, I am struggling to cope. I have been consumed by negative thoughts and anxiety surrounding the changes in September.

I detest change

Change scares me. I am a person who is quite happy rolling along on the comfortable lazy river of life. I hate change because it is something I cannot control. Wanting to be in control of everything is my fatal flaw, it consumes me on a minute by minute basis.

Having had counselling, I am well aware why I am like this and I have made great progress in learning to let go of things. I am also petrified of failure and so I do not push myself to change things. Failure is catastrophic in my mind so I will not put myself in situations where I might fail.

After going for a promotion and failing in the interview, I vowed to not put myself in that position again. I will also avoid social events because I am scared of being on my own while everyone else is having fun with friends; also I am worried that I will embarrass myself and people will hate me.
These crippling thoughts remind me of a quote from my favourite film ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’

You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing,” and you’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.

Change is inevitable, growth is optional

This hatred of change does not mean I have not been through many changes in my life. Change cannot be avoided. I have gone through many dramatic changes in my thirty-eight years; going to university, leaving a toxic relationship, starting a career in teaching, living on my own, buying a house, marrying my husband, having my children are some of the most significant I can think of. On a positive note, I have ‘survived’ all of these events and have come through them, growing wiser for the experience.

I know that I can survive the changes that are imminent, I just have to show kindness to myself, practice self-care and take each day as it comes. I am going to follow the steps below to manage my feelings regarding change and better cope with the situation.

Acknowledge the change

It is inevitable, so why ignore it? The first step to coping with change is to acknowledge it is going to happen. I feel somewhat hypocritical saying this as I have had my own fair share of denial myself over the changes at work. However, I have now started planning for next year and it is giving me something to get excited about. It is the perfect opportunity to reinvent myself as a teacher and a member of staff.
The changes are going to happen so I might as well embrace them rather than avoid them. It is the start of a whole new journey in my life with many possibilities.

Positive thinking

Every change brings new possibilities for happiness and growth as a person. Thinking of all the positives that might result due to the changes occurring will help the transition process. As the quote says ‘change is inevitable, growth is optional’, I intend to use this as a time to grow. A fresh perspective at work will mean I can gain more knowledge and experience.

Positive thinking also needs to be applied to me in regard to the situation. I have battled many challenges in my life and come out stronger. I am more capable than I give myself credit for, proving that I have good qualities. I am in a good position with my career and I have an amazing family and friends, I should relish that rather than worry about what could happen. I may not be in control of the changes but I am in control of how I choose to respond to them.

Take control of what you can

Write a list of the things you can control and take charge of. Being proactive as soon as you are able will help defeat those feelings of uncertainty. I have been drafting plans for next year and expanding my knowledge base in terms of activities so that I am fully armed when I plan what I am going to in September.

I have taken the change as an opportunity to revamp my classroom and have a good clear out; when I am feeling out of sorts, tidying and re-organising my workspace can help to clear my head. My desire is to surround myself with things that comfort me and so it is an opportunity to display photo’s and resources that remind me I am a valued teacher.

Practice self-care

I am a big advocate of self-care; looking after yourself should be at the forefront of your mind. The main ways I have been practising self-care is by indulging my love of books and writing, pampering my feet on a regular basis by performing a pedicure and spending time playing with my son and his huge collection of Lego.

Another element of self-care that I have been trying to maintain through these changes is eating healthier. I have been making wise choices in terms of food and making sure I drink plenty of water; the difference between the days when I drink lots of water and the ones where I do not are striking and I have reduced the number of headaches I was suffering.

Being honest with people about how you feel

This is one piece of advice that I have struggled with in the past; I tend to bottle things up until I am on the point of exploding. I have been opening up with some of the people around me about my fears for the future, this has helped lighten the burden and my friends and family have provided some great points to consider as alternatives to the negative thoughts.

Sharing worries with others can often help you negotiate the worry in your own mind. Hearing these worries out loud can often remind you that you might be ‘catastrophising’ the situation or not applying logic to the situation. Your mind is a powerful tool, but it can also trick you into overthinking and not seeing the situation for what it is; I often say to the pupils ‘It is not that deep’ and I think the same can often be applied to our worries.

What are your tips for dealing with change? I would love to hear of your own experiences of when life changed dramatically; how did you get through the situation?

Ciao for now beauties xx

One Comment Add yours

  1. dolphinwrite says:

    Most people do what they do well. And if difficulties arise, find their place of expertise within. And given all the distractions and difficulties, finding good “habits” and organizational skills are attractive, especially if there is much to do. But as with all things, we do need some flexibility, but I think the human condition thrives on finding our areas of success. What works for us, so to speak.

    Liked by 1 person

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