Saturday, January 13, 2007

On Dealing with Change

I should note, that nothing has actually changed yet, nor am I certain of which direction any future changes might take, but nonetheless, I've been doing the thing that I do when the prospect of change appears on the horizon. This thing is known as crossing bridges before one comes to them, putting carts before horses, counting chickens before hatching, etc.

Now, many might argue that such is not a healthy practice. In fact, in the past I've been inclined to beat myself up for this tendency, believing that I should instead strive for a state of zen-like calm in which I let the road rise up to meet me, take it one day at a time, or roll with the punches as they land, or some such.

But at this particular moment, I'm inclined not to beat myself up. While I think it's true that one shouldn't obsess over a future that one cannot control, and that it makes sense not to get too caught up in tryin to anticipate what might happen in that uncontrollable future, I also think that some of this is maybe not a bad thing. Maybe some of this forecasting is really about trying to feel comfortable with things that are really damned scary. Maybe I'm not worrying or obsessing but rather just trying to get my head around the fact that my life in one year's time may not be identical to what it is right now, what it's been for the past three or so years. And maybe, just maybe, I'd better spend some time trying to get used to potential outcomes, because when whatever change is coming comes, it's going to come wicked fast, and I'm not going to have a lot of time to ruminate (yes, even if that change is just a change in my life here).

Change sucks. Change is hard. I don't like change. So part of my process is making it seem like a change isn't really something that happens to me but a decision that I prepare for and make. So what may look like obsessing is really just me settling into a level of comfortableness (although maybe it is a teeny bit obsessive).

It is also procrastination, because ruminating takes much time and energy, and so it's very difficult to do things like laundry or grading when one has to focus one's attention on gazing into the crystal ball.


Anonymous said...

Change is better for me when I can see it as my choice. Changing jobs, for example, was a really difficult change, but it was my choice. Some changes just don't work in any way as our choices though.


I hope whatever change comes is for the better for you, and comes as painlessly as possible.

Anonymous said...

Dr. C -

I agree that change sucks. But I think it's a natural human tendency to try to 'imagine' the future. I think our brains evolved for just that purpose, and it has given us a tremendous survival advantage. In my work as a dog guide trainer, I can see how dogs are merely reactive - they don't plan for the future, they don't try to visualize possible outcomes, etc. They just react when the stimulus arises - or re-arises.

I think it's good that we humans try to visualize future outcomes. I think in a way it helps prepare us mentally for both the good and the bad. I even recently read somewhere - I don't have the reference on hand - that our ability to visualize and rehearse potential scenarios actually helps us perform or handle those scenarios. It's like we have a virtual video game in our heads that helps us prepare for whatever comes our way. I'll try and find the link to that article and send it to you.

So take heart; your obsessing may not be in vain :)


medieval woman said...

I hear ya, sister! Ball-gazing is a necessity, I think. Much more so than clean socks... :)

Anonymous said...

I think I over-visualize the future to some extent because that makes it my choice...meaning that the more I think about the possible outcomes and what I would do with them, the more I feel that things are under my control.

Even though I know that, ultimately, they're not, what I do have control over is how I choose to react to them. A lot of times, as long as I'm careful to not let myself freak out too much, the "what would I do if...." thinking that I do can be suprisingly productive.