Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Fake it ‘Till You Make It’

Fear of Change

As individuals we are as unique as our fingerprints yet when facing major life changes our behavior is predictable. Some of you may be familiar with the 5 stages of grief by Dr. Kubler-Ross but what you may not realize is that these stages not only apply to the loss of a loved one but, in fact, apply to any major change we experience in our life.

For instance, for those high school seniors who are getting ready to graduate over the next 9 weeks major life changes are at an all time high! Because of that they will be experiencing denial (is high school really over – I’ve waited forever for this but it is happening too fast am I’m nervous or scared). Once they recognize the fact that graduation is really happening they may have moments of anxiety or a short fuse and anger may surface out of the blue. You may hear statements such as, ‘It’s not fair’ or ‘I thought I was ready but I didn’t get to do …’ They may even feel that others are trying to controlling their lives. Why? Simply put, things feel like they are moving too fast for them at this point. Their behavior may become a bit scattered or random. Fear and life altering change can do that to all of us.
Bargaining is the next stage and you may hear, ‘I just want to go out with my friends more and experience life before it is gone.’ Sadness may surface temporarily, as they realize that life is about to change and ready or not it will never be quite the same again. The safety and security of the known is replaced with the daunting reality of the unknown. After emotional working through the previous four stages the person finally arrives at acceptance. They will still be nervous or worried until they are walking in the shoes of their new life but they begin to muster up the confidence that they will make it and can handle the changes that are about to happen.

You may be puzzled or surprised that the much anticipated graduation date has become something you see your loved ones worried about rather than celebrating. After all, how many times have you heard the statement, ‘I can’t wait to graduate!’ Major life altering changes affect all of us the same way and fear of the unknown reigns supreme. The time we spend in each of the stages above differs and can be days, weeks, even months. I do know that KNOWING these stages for what they are …simply stages …HELPS the person hold onto their grip in life. It is reassuring to know that our feelings are normal and our fears will pass. We just have to ‘Fake it ’till we Make it!’

What can we do to help others who are going through these stages? Like most things in life it takes a listening ear, encouragement, time and knowing about these stages. You simply can’t speed up the process but you can do various things to alleviate some of the fear. The more familiar the person is with what they will be facing in reference to the change the better. The gift of time to mentally process and ‘grow into’ the change that is about to happen results in a more positive outcome. Changes that happen too fast are generally much, much harder to accept since the processing time was not available.

As parents we want to believe that we have done our job correctly and raised confident, self reliable individuals. We may expect excitement, happiness or even joy from them given the opportunity to move on and create their own life. All that will come…it just takes time. With love, patience, (and a little advanced planning) these stages will pass and their self confidence will once again be restored as they accept the changes before them.

Dr. Seuss wrote a humorous children’s book entitled, ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go,’ that describes these 5 stages perfectly. It really is a classic example of the human emotions that are experienced when life altering changes happen. It is a favorite to give to graduating seniors who will one day look back and remember the emotional roller coaster they experienced. The last page in the book says it all…’And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!’

Please pass this on to anyone who may be facing a major life change especially parents and graduating seniors as a way to ‘pay it forward.’

Have a great few days!

Decide on Happiness

Some of you may remember the children’s song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands.” Having spent over 38 years in education, I can close my eyes and actually hear the melodic voices of little children singing that song with accompanying giggles and enthusiastic clapping of hands.

As we become adults, the melody may slip away, even the words may be forgotten but the thought is worth keeping around to examine from time to time. Ask yourself right now, “Am I happy?” After really thinking about it, if you are genuinely NOT happy, it is time to do something about it. It doesn’t count to say to yourself, “I’ll be happy when…” as if it is a condition of your life that is dependent upon achieving something you don’t presently have.

What will it take to make you internally happy? What is the major sticking point that is keeping you stuck in unhappiness? Is it resolvable? Obviously, the death of a loved one is something that cannot be changed. But, the way you look at it can make all the difference. They did not desert you because they didn’t love you anymore. It was simply their exit point – their time to move on. They did not disappear forever. You really will see them again on a soul level, and in the meantime you can reconnect with them through the help of others if you choose. If you have stopped living and are simply existing since their death that is not what they would have wanted for you. Life is to be lived and a big part of living is to decide to be happy.

Yes, that’s right, I said DECIDE to be happy. It takes work and a concerted effort to make lemon aid from lemons but it can be done. What I do know is that there are no awards given for being, “The Most Unhappy Person in Show” category. When you see your glass consistently as half-empty rather than half-full, it drains you and those around you of the positive energy needed to live your life.

There are some things you really can do to improve your perspective. First of all, be the person you would want to be around. Smiling helps, laughing is even better. Find humor in the mundane and ridiculous – if you just look around it’s everywhere. Next, decide on a plan to work through any issue you are dealing with at the moment. A counselor or best friend could be of great help by being a reflective listener. Talk it out, verbalize your feelings and don’t allow yourself to let the issue ‘eat away at you’ from the inside or out. Until the real issue surfaces you may find yourself generalizing that your entire life is simply not good.

Exercise, meditation and spending time giving to others really does boost your physical and mental well being. Visualize yourself as a person who finds joy in life. How does it feel? Good, right? You may, at first, have to ‘fake it ’till you make it,’ but be patient with yourself. It will manifest itself in your life. When we hear that we have to believe it to see it, it’s true.

Give yourself permission to be happy. You deserve it!

Have a great few days!