Whether it is positive or negative- change can be hard. We get used to doing the same things everyday and our minds become used to a routine. When this routine is disrupted, we start to feel anxious and sometimes even panic.
You may think, “What if this change really flips my life upside down and I can’t handle it?” “What if this new job is not the right fit and I get fired?” “What if I don’t know how to be a Dad?” All of these "What if…” thoughts are valid to be thinking, but it is important to refocus on the reality of what is happening now. These “what if…” worries thoughts are imaginary things that are going wrong in your future. In reality, they are actually not happening right now.
Anchor Therapy is a counseling center in Hoboken, NJ with psychotherapists specialized to help children, teens, and adults.
The anxiety of change:
Change can be something so minor such as you trying to shift something in your routine or change can be a huge life event. An example of something small might be trying to track your water intake so that you can focus on drinking more water. This may bring up some fears and doubt within you since tracking your water intake is not a typical part of your daily routine. A bigger example of change may be that you want to quit your job. Both of these changes can create some anxiety within you because you do not know what to expect. You may be fearful that you will not remember to track your water daily and then your goal of drinking more water may feel hopeless. Or you may feel fearful that you will make the wrong decision by quitting your job since you cannot predict that the next job will be better for you.
Any change in your lie can stir up all of these different levels of worries. There are also changes that are not planned or expected. These changes can be a trauma or losing someone close to you. There are so many changes that happen in our lives and anxiety causes us to fear them all.
Challenge your anxious thoughts:
You have already made it through change. I challenge you to take a few minutes to think back on your life to remember the many changes (big and small) that you have experienced. Now you can say you have successfully transitioned through changes in your life. Even though this next change may seem more scary, stressful, or daunting - you will make it through. Change is a way of life and we would not be human without it. There are many stages in development we go through so that we are constantly changing and growing as we should.
I want you to flip your anxious thoughts and really think the opposite. I want you to start to see changes as a positive way of life. Even if this is a change you are dreading, you will make it through as you have in the past. These changes have gotten you to where you are today and you are still standing.
Flip those worried thoughts:
When you have those “What If…” thoughts stuck in your head as mentioned earlier, then you will be in this never ending worry cycle. I want you to notice that you are having these thoughts and challenge them. If your thought is, “What if I don’t know how to be a Dad?” then I want you to ask yourself how you are doing right now. In this moment. Maybe you have a baby on the way and you are not a father yet. But ask yourself how you have been supporting your partner or how you have been preparing for this baby. If you feel you have been doing okay so far, then that is all the confirmation you need. There is no first time parent that is ever truly ready to become a parent. The change just happens and they roll with whatever comes.
You can apply this example to any worried thought you have about the future. Ask yourself what is happening right now. And if the change has not happened yet then you need to remind yourself that you are okay right now. You will take on this change as it comes. But there is no point in worrying about stuff that happens in the future when you don’t even know what is going to happen.
All change can be seen as positive:
Changes in our life help shape who we are as people. Do not shy away from change, but seek it out. Look for ways to change up your daily routine- even in a small way. The skill to have the ability to adapt to change, and whatever comes your way, is a great skill to have in life as change is inevitable. You might as well embrace it when it comes and not fear what you can’t predict before it does.
For someone with a mental health disorder, such as an anxiety disorder, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (ptsd), etc. then it is recommended to lean on your support systems and have a therapist/ counselor in place for when changes do develop in your life.
I would love to hear from you and how you have gotten through changes in your past. Feel free to send me a message by filling out the form below.
Courtney Glashow, LCSW
is a licensed psychotherapist practicing in Hoboken, New Jersey. She specializes in helping children, teens, and adults with anxiety and depression through counseling. Courtney can help NY or NJ residents through telehealth (video/phone) therapy sessions as well.