Counseling “How To” Guide: Life Changes
Changes in life – from moving across country for a new job, to going from being single to in a relationship, or vice versa, or dealing with a new reality of life – are complicated and full of contradictory emotions. People often seek counseling or therapy to assist themselves with change because of the confusing effects of change.
Cut through the confusion of life changes by recognizing 3 critical elements of the change process.
1 – Timing: Change that lasts cannot be rushed.
It may be tempting to dive right into taking action today. However, it is important to lay the proper foundation to make effective and lasting change. Do this to avoid missteps and failure, which leaves you feeling as though change isn’t possible. Failure to change is usually about not having most of the pieces of the change puzzle figured out in advance. If you’re feeling uncertain, counseling or therapy, helps people to understand where they are on their personal change timeline.
2 – Stress: Remember that change–even welcomed change–comes with stress.
Transitions are stressful, even happy transitions. It’s pretty easy to recognize the stress and strain that comes with unwelcome transitions, like job stress or relationship problems. It’s less easy to see how a promotion or a new exciting relationship also comes with its own types of stress.
Keep in mind that change in and of itself causes stress since it alters usual behaviors, patterns and habits.
As creatures of habit, newness can put any of us on edge and stretch typical resources. Remember this, and build in ways to assist yourself as you deal with the new.
3 – Loss: With something new, you have to lose something old.
Change is another word for loss. Life changes come with an inevitable sense of loss, even if the change is a good one. When your life alters there’s an emotional component created by that alteration. Life that was once familiar is no longer quite the same, and is subtly – or not so subtly – unsettling. Reminiscing and thinking about the “good old days”, even if they weren’t actually that good, are part of letting go and moving into change.
At the core of most personal counseling are issues of dealing with and creating change in life. Though changing your life often feels like staring straight up a daunting cliff, here at District Psychotherapy Associates in DC psychologists and therapists assist people with understanding that change is entirely possible and lasting.
Until next time,
Dr. Brad Brenner