Cambios: Life Changes
Life changes are inevitable, albeit often unpredictable. Sometimes we freely choose our changes; we change jobs, careers, spouses, homes, occasionally friends. Sometimes change chooses us (illness, involuntary separation from jobs, homes, family or friends). In either case, our coping strategies are taxed.
What I’ve observed in myself and others is that we are way more adaptable and resilient than we think. Like me, you may have witnessed others going through enormous change, perhaps traumatic change, and have thought “how can they do that? I would fall apart.” Some people do fall apart; most people, however, adapt in their own way.
I have never thought my own struggles were much compared to others. Perhaps one coping strategy is to minimize one’s own struggles. A close friend, who went through a year of chemo and surgery after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, said something similar. She thought she had it easy; some people have it much worse, she said.
Another friend who has been in cancer remission for many years said she replaced the “why me?” refrain with “why not me?” when she was first diagnosed. That struck me as a pretty good outlook when a change comes at you from left field.
Much has been written about positive attitudes. Personally, I’m not keen on dwelling on the importance of maintaining a positive attitude as life takes you through the wringer. Not to say, moaning and groaning gets you far either. The danger in suggesting that a positive attitude will get you through a life-threatening disease is that, if you don’t survive the disease, your attitude must not have been positive enough. Victim blaming comes in many forms; it’s universally not helpful.
Perhaps like some of you, I witnessed a friend with a great attitude succumb to cancer. Maybe her attitude helped her get through the horrors of multiple treatments but, in the end, cancer didn’t care if she had a positive attitude or not. It brought her down.
Upon hearing that I was a life-changes coach, a shop owner asked me for a single bit of advice I would give someone going through a major change. (She was going through a divorce at the time.) I said that imagining one’s life at the end of the change (post-move, post-divorce, post-illness) is one way to cope. Visualizing oneself at the other end of the tunnel helps one get through the dark times.
Not all changes are negative but most are pretty disruptive. I have freely chosen to upend myself a number of times. Even so, I would second guess my decisions, had waves of self-doubt and experienced dark moments of the soul. Comes with the territory, I reckon.
A 60’s expression relating to a negative experience with someone was “he’s putting me through some changes.” As if. Back when I used this expression, I didn’t know from changes (as my grandmother would say). These days, I’m more apt to say, “I’m putting myself through some changes.”