Earlier today I was robbed. Obviously, an unexpected change. It was the end of the day; I left my backpack in the training room whilst I ran to the loo. When I got back, it was gone. Ugh! I hate that feeling. My mind racing with a million questions – What exactly was in the bag? Is it all replaceable? My gut feeling wrenched that someone could do this. (The joke was on them, there was nothing valuable in it, but still!)
This got me thinking about the feelings we experience during any change. Besides the surprise factor of ‘now you have a bag and now you don’t’… what’s the difference between experiencing expected and unexpected changes? The mind still races – what’s going to be the same? what’s going to be different? And the gut still wrenches – why do we need to change?
Is it just we have more time to prepare, to work through it, to come out the other side? Time can be a great healer. Instead of feeling emotionally distraught, time can allow you to find the positives and stay focused on them throughout the upheaval of change. Whereas unexpected change drops you in the thick of it, to sink or swim. How fast can you find a positive to cling to without drowning?
Kubler-Ross describes getting through change as reaching Acceptance. Virginia Satir refers to finding a Transforming idea – something inside starts to match something outside, so that we can make sense of the change and see our place in all of it.
Time might help get there, but is it really needed? And if so, how much?
Maybe it’s not so much related to the amount of time, but the size/impact of the change. Although annoying and hugely inconvenient to be robbed of my backpack, I was still safe and my most important items were still with me (phone, purse, etc). By the time I finished my evening commute, ranted for 5 minutes to my husband about my annoyance, I was over it.
However, if I had lost more valuable and essential items, I bet I’d still be fuming… for days… if not weeks! I’m starting to think that although the reactions to expected and unexpected change are similar if not the same, time can help most when the impact is bigger.
Note to self: Next BIG impact change to be announced as early as possible.