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Thrive Therapy & Counseling provides high quality therapy to Highly Sensitive People and to kids, teens or adults struggling with anxiety, depression or self-esteem.

Coping with change

Blog

This blog is written by a therapist in midtown Sacramento and focuses on the concerns and struggles of highly sensitive people (HSPs) and of kids, teens and adults struggling with depression, anxiety or just trying to figure out what they want for themselves.  There's help and hope through counseling and therapy!

Coping with change

Ivy Griffin

Change. I hear the word and experience a flood of emotions. What feelings come up for you when you think about changes in your life?  Excitement? Anxiety? Irritation? Overwhelm? Sadness? Curiosity? Fear? Joy? All of the above? More? Change can be exciting, thrilling even. It can motivate me, drive me, push me to excel. However, change can also completely overwhelm me, threatening to suffocate and strangle out any energy or passion that I have. Sometimes change is even irritating. I am planning for my day to go a certain way. Maybe I’ve even mapped out what will happen, and then, zoom, I’m thrown a curve ball and it all changes. So annoying!
 
Did you know that most of us, e-specially HSPs, dislike change and experience such discomfort about it that there’s a psychological term to describe this? Homeostatic anxiety. The anxiety associated with change. It’s what happens when we feel off balance or like our “boat” has been rocked. Most of us want to know what to expect in our lives and what we can count on. It can be terrifying when what we believe is stable changes or when we feel like we don’t have the stability we want. Of course, we all know the old adage that change is the only constant. (“I still don’t like it!” shouts my inner 6 year old.)
 
So, what do we do? Get used to it? Don’t worry; you won’t hear that from me. I’ve always hated ultimatums like, “Life isn’t fair” or “Deal with it.” Ewww <shivers>. Sure, there may be truth to them, but do we have to think about the world like that? I feel so disempowered to be handed one of those phrases, like I don’t have any say in what happens. While the truth is that sometimes life does happen to us, whether or not we like it, I love the idea that we always get to choose how to respond, and that response can be as varied as it needs to me. We can scream, cry, jump for joy, crumple in a heap, talk to a friend, laugh, sob.
 
The beauty is that the response is ours. It’s personal; we have the right to express what we need to express.
 
What if we start owning our right to feel, to recognize how we feel and what we need, and then to express that need? Such common messages to us HSPs are to “suck it up” or “stop being a crybaby,” but I think sometimes what we need is exactly the opposite. We may need to wallow, sob or just be damned angry for a while. We can give ourselves permission to feel however we feel about change.That is freeing. That is empowering. You know why? It stops that whole flood of reactions from getting dammed up. It allows us to ride all those different waves. And, surfing means that we don’t get stuck. We get to move from one emotion to the next. We don’t just have to suffer through the panic, but we also get to experience the thrill and exuberance. Because change can be damn exciting, right? It opens up new possibilities and can keep us from getting bored. Change creates space for new experiences.
 
While change is hard and sometimes has me kicking and screaming and trying desperately to dig my heels in, I find that I’m much happier when I stop trying to ignore or suppress my feelings and start acknowledging them and moving from one to the next. Much as I hate the chest-tightening I get with overwhelm, I think it makes me appreciate the rush of happiness and accomplishment even more.
 
If you’re going through changes and are feeling flooded, let us help you surf! (Just sounds waaay more fun, doesn't it?)