Whether you love or loath change, the truth is that you’ll be faced with it at some point.
However, knowing change is inevitable doesn’t necessarily make it easier to cope with when it comes your way.
For me, change recently came in the form of the end of an almost five-year relationship with my boyfriend. Though ending the relationship was best for both of us, it forced a lot of change into my life and I’ve had to spend a lot of time figuring out how to make the most of it.
The more I work to overcome the changes in my life—being single again, living alone, and coping with the unknown future—the more I’ve realized that even though I cannot always control what changes, I can always control how I react to what changes.
The way I interpret change is up to me, and even when it’s challenging, I have the option to interpret change in a positive way, to see it as a glass half full.
Of course, that’s much easier said that done. To tackle and embrace change from a positive perspective, you need a plan.
Whether you’re going through a break up like me or some other change—a new job, a move to a different city, the loss of someone you love, etc.—these three steps can help you optimize whatever change in your life.
How To Accept Big Changes In Your Life
1. Accept things as they are.
The first—and most important—step for seeing change as a glass half full is accepting what’s happened. It’s really difficult to move forward without accepting it, because without acceptance, you’ll find yourself longing for what was instead of inviting in what is.
While acceptance can be incredibly difficult to do at first, coping with change becomes much more difficult—if not impossible—if you don’t accept it.
Strive to keep an open mind. Sometimes you might not want to embrace acceptance because doing so means that you have to admit that this change is actually happening.
Without acceptance, you can pretend (however foolishly) that things might go back to the way they once were. Unfortunately, pretending won’t translate into reality, and the longer you withhold your acceptance of what is, the longer it will take to see the change as a glass half full.
When I’ve struggled with acceptance, I try to take myself out of the situation emotionally and look at it from an objective perspective.
I take a step back and try to view what’s happening as a complete outsider would. Doing so makes it easier to see clearly and pushes away some of the emotional condensation that can sometimes cloud up my half-full glass.
2. Seek out the positive.
Here, in step two, is where the glass-half-full philosophy really shines.
Usually, when faced with change, you’ll have a strong positive or negative reaction, depending on how you envision that change impacting your life.
Most of us want to label what’s happening to us as a positive or a negative so we know how to handle the situation. Defining and labeling things is part of human nature because it helps us understand and react to the world around us.
However, when we quickly assign a label to something, we limit how we see the situation.
For example, if you automatically hear “break up” and think “negative,” you’re putting that whole situation in a glass half empty perspective.
Yes, a break up is usually a negative thing and does come with its fair share of heartache and tears, but it does often contain some very positive aspects—such as allowing room in your life for the person who is right for you.
As tempting as it might be to automatically label change as a negative, try asking yourself, “What good could come from this situation?”
As difficult as my break up has been for me, when I asked myself this question, I was surprised by how many positives I was able to come up with.
There’s now room in my heart for a new love, there’s an opportunity to learn from what didn’t work in my last relationship, and there’s more time for me to focus on my career.
Related: The 7 C’s Of Happy Relationships
Even though the change is difficult, when I think about it from a positive perspective, I’m able to see the ways I can use my mind to focus on the good.
Seeking out the positive doesn’t necessarily take away the negative aspects of change—change is still hard to deal with, especially if it’s unexpected or uncomfortable—but it can shift your perspective, making it much easier to see the glass half full instead of half empty and helping you to embrace change.
3. Focus on the now.
The third step in my plan involves focusing on the present moment.
In might seem counterintuitive to stay in the present when the present feels so painful, but in actuality, it’s not the present itself that’s the problem. The problem is what your mind is doing in the present that’s causing the it to feel painful.
You see, the present feels painful because your mind is focused on the past and the future: on what was (in my case, the relationship I once had) or what could be (in my case, wondering if I’ll be alone for the rest of my life).
The present moment in which I’m sitting here at this desk, writing this article, isn’t problematic at all. What causes me pain is when my mind starts to wander to the past or strays into the future.
Odd as it might sound, staying in the moment is the very best way to cope and embrace change. When faced with change, it’s very tempting think about the past or wonder about the future.
You might find yourself wondering what you could have done differently in the past, or how you’re going to cope in the future. While I do think some reflection can be worthwhile, when you’re struggling to cope with change, ruminating on what was or what could be is rarely helpful.
You cannot go back and undo what’s happened, and you don’t ever know for sure what the future will hold, so thinking about the past or the future doesn’t do much to help you cope.
What does help is focusing on what’s happening right now and using the present moment to productively move forward in your life.
You may not always be able to control what changes in your life, but I’ve found that these steps provide a way to control how you react to whatever change you might face. If you strive to accept the change, seek out the positive, and focus on the now, you have the opportunity to embrace change as an open door.
Dani DiPirro is the author of Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present and the upcoming book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. She is also the founder of PositivelyPresent.com, a site dedicated to helping people live positively in the present moment. To check out Dani’s latest book and learn more about here and her work, check out DaniDiPirro.com.
Photo by noiseless