4 Lifesaving Secrets For People Who Suck at Handling Change
Life is a big ol' stack of flapjacks. Especially when everything is all sweet and buttery, going just the way I ordered. Add in a side of bacon and I don’t care if my finger’s falling off. It’s easy to handle life when it’s circumstances align with my plan. But what about when it doesn’t go to plan - they get my order wrong or some kid sneezes on my bacon? Change has a slimey pain-in-the-ass consistency when circumstances aren't the way I like.
The dilemma is all things are fluffy until life rapidly changes beyond our control. Intentional change is good, like asking for a raise and getting it - cheers! Unintentional change is difficult, like getting fired without chance of unemployment. The fear that lingers in unexpected change is the culprit of anxiety, worry, or depression; or all three.
Here’s the 4 secrets to handling change when you suck at it:
1. Quit taking things too damn seriously
Terminal seriousness is the serial killer of serenity in folks with first world problems. Taking things too seriously will likely cause your heart to stop or your head explode. Symptoms include:
Not being able to laugh at yourself.
Not laughing at all.
Constant worry of money, relationships, health, yourself, others, or the future.
Always feeling offended.
Fear of public speaking.
Having that crease between your eyebrows from being serious.
Frequent sighs at an inappropriate volume for others to hear your woes.
If you have 1 or more of these symptoms, contact your conscience immediately and tell it to quit giving such a shit.
In all seriousness, the best way I have found to lighten the fuck up is to start recognizing when I’m not lightened up. Many of our behaviors seem automatic, so it can be hard to make drastic changes on the short game. It takes a willingness to observes one’s own reactions to life and being open to changing them - rather than thinking everyone else should change theirs.
A little trick I learned is “first thought wrong.” The way it works is next time you want to react when you feel overloaded, pause. Challenge that thought and pick a less cataclysmic one. Slowly our reaction to life can change from panic attack to just relax. Remember, nobody has the golden circumstances of being surrounded by infinitely nice people. We are all in the company of at least a couple acquaintances paddling douche canoes. How we respond to those people, terminally seriously or not, will determine how light we feel.
2. Get your hands off other people’s wheel
If I had a nickel for every time I heard somebody say, “if everyone would listen to me, everything would work out,” I would have enough nickels to bury all these people in a mountain of nickels. But I have very few nickels right now and I don’t want to kill people with nickels.
What I’m saying is that everyone else simply is not going to follow your orders. No damn way. We all have an idea of what makes an ideal life situation and fortunately everyone’s ideas are different to various degrees. I say fortunately because life would be extraordinarily boring if we all thought exactly the same.
We all have our own wheel to steer and if you are not steering your own, you’re probably going to hit someone else, an innocent Chihuahua, and hopefully a politician. Steer your own life, not every else’s because that JUST DOES NOT WORK. Steering someone else's wheel works as well as a toaster in the bathtub. People may get in our way, screw up our plans, or just flat out be a prick. Rather than wasting time getting even, focus on turning your wheel in the correct direction.
3. Control the correct things
There are things we can control, thank God. We are in complete control of our behavior and actions. We are not control of the 7 billion other people’s, as overly stated above. It is much easier to change 1 person rather than 7 billion. By focusing on our own responses to life’s hailstorm of events, we’ve got a marvelous shot at being a champ at life. You hear that, go get em champ.
Easier philosophized than practiced, sure. It’s a piece of pancake to blame someone else for making our life taste like moth balls, but we don’t get an inch closer to serenity that way. By taking responsibility for every action we take, we have eons more control over our own happiness. If we put our happiness in the hands of other people they are going to eventually screw that up, big time, pig time.
Now, sometimes we have every intention to do some super awesome good stuff, and people throw a black banana under our wheels and mess the whole thing up (Mario Kart?). Getting used to the fact that not everything we want is going to happen will open up a huge can of happiness. It feels darn good to look at a failed opportunity, shrug your shoulders, and be happy your alive. Remember not taking things too seriously? Start with some little things, like not pouting when you don’t get to go to the restaurant you wanted. Yeah, sometimes we are that guy/gal.
4. Learn to enjoy the ride
Hold on because life is one heck of a jet ski ride, and we’re not driving. It’s is pretty alright, if we let it be. Happy, exciting live’s are the result of our response to life, not our control of it. We are as happy as we want to be. There are occasional exceptions to this rule, but probably not if you’re reading this. It more applies to the kid in a third world country in the middle of a civil war.
Life is pretty much going to be exactly how it’s going to be. Some days I’m eating a shitty bowl of grits and others it's a stack of flapjacks. The more content I am with both of those circumstances, the better off I am - the more I enjoy the ride. So if the flapjacks come the way I ordered, lucky me. If not, well I’m not entitled to pancakes anyways, time to put my bib on and eat some grits.
No one is going to make it out of this life alive, so it’s sort of important to make the best of it. Rather than attempting to control our jobs, relationships, stuff, or pancakes, we could place some merit on how we respond to those things. The more in tune we become with laughing at ourselves and controlling the correct things, the easier change is. Your doctor will be undoubtedly impressed with your blood pressure readings too.