Several times in my life I have had to make hard decisions. Considering a move was one of them. And every time it was scary, and the bigger the move, the greater the anxiety. Sometimes I wanted to move and willingly initiated the process. Other times I had to move for financial reasons. I began to understand why these situations were stressful when I learned about Change Theory.
Psychologists have been studying the impact of change in people for many years. They have studied people’s reactions to change, thoughts and feelings about change; and why some people seem to handle change without a care, while others resist it with full force. One model of change is the Five Stages of Grief by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. The author found that many people go through stages of grief when experiencing changes in their lives. The Five Stages of Grief Kubler-Ross developed are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Many people move through these stages in times of change. Especially when facing a big event such as moving to a new home. Here are some examples.
Sometimes, we resist change, especially when considering a move. We can come up will all types of excuses as to why we don’t need to move now; “It’s not the right time,” “we won’t find any friends,” or “no one will come to visit.” You may not listen to those looking out for you. You may even argue with them and fight the idea. As the saying goes, Denial (the “Nile”) is not just a river in Africa.
Anger can creep up on you when you realize you have to make the unwanted move. You have gone through all the reasons and concluded that you have to go and now you’re just plain mad. You may respond by snapping at others, having less patience with things, or just not feeling great.
As a way to counteract anger, there is a tendency to try and rationalize the situation as a way out. “Maybe if we put it off for a few more years,” “what if I get a job to help make ends meet,” we conjure up excuses and reasons that could reverse what is happening. This thinking may provide a glimmer of hope as you make these efforts to avoid the inevitable.
This feeling can appear after attempts to “bargain” our way out of the situation do not work. The future looks gloomy. This is a time to connect with others who listen to your story. It feels good to “vent” your frustrations and find some shared experiences with others. Remember there are counselors and support groups where ever you are to help you get through tough times like these.
Over time, thinking through the situation, and with encouragement with friends and family, we can come to accept what is happening and start to gain a sense of peace with what has to happen and perhaps even looking forward to exploring the next chapter of our lives.
It’s important to note that this process is not always linear or one-directional. This means that people can move through the denial, anger, bargaining, and in a depressed state when something will happen that causes them to circle back to being angry again. Then work through the bargaining stage again with this new perspective and then on to bargaining and acceptance.
Understanding how we process change in our lives can help tremendously in addressing the anxiety that often comes with big decisions. It is important to understand Change Theory and where you are in the process in order to get through these difficult times.