Well we’re a week into 2017 and what sort of a year will it be? Who knows what’s in store for us.

Whatever is in stall will be affected by the way that we approach it. If we can approach things in our lives with openness and curiosity we may get more out of it than expected. This is especially true of the change which will occur during the year.

The Unexpected Change

Change can be pleasant and unpleasant. Unexpected change can throw us off balance, it can leave us feeling disorientated and anchorless. We may not feel in control of our situation and spend many hours, weeks, months trying to regain control. This can leave us feeling exhausted both mentally and physically. However, if we can relinquish this need for control and view the change with curiosity, if we can be inquisitive and non-judgmental about the change, we will be using less cognitive resources and have much more energy with which to experience the change. This improved psychological state will also increase the likelihood that we will notice the good things about the change and not focus in on the negative things.

Our need to feel in control of a situation is hardwired, it’s part of our survival mechanism where we constantly scan for danger. So relinquishing control will not be easy, it will take conscious and repeated effort, but it will be worth it. We will put less cognitive resources into scanning for danger so we will feel more rested. This means that we can be more receptive to the positive benefits of change we may notice things that we did not expect to see. The new view on the journey to our new job, the fact that we’ve got more time to spend at home, the new people we meet as our life changes direction.

The Expected Change

Some of us already know that this year will bring change; a new job, a house move. Others will be hoping for change; a new partner, a career change, a child. Hope is both an emotion and a powerful motivational force. As an emotion it can elicit other positive emotions such as gratitude and awe. Barbara Fredrickson’s research into her Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions has found that these positive emotions have a protective role in buffering us from the effects of our negative emotions, they increase our resilience and resilience is something that we are likely to have to call upon when we are going through a period of change. Hope can spur us on to do things, to persevere when the going gets tough, to try different ways of approaching a task and reaching our goals.

So can we make use of the hope that we use for expected change and apply it to unexpected change? Or do the two types of change need different approaches? Throughout the year try both out and let me know how you get on.

About the author: To read more about Bryony Shaw MAPP, please click here.

 

‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’

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