Change is scary – even when it’s a direction you’ve chosen and a choice that will benefit you. You may know you need to take a different direction in your life … but when you actually screw up your courage & take the plunge, you may wonder if it was the right decision after all.
That’s normal and expected with many of the decisions we will make throughout our lives: Did I pick the right college? Should I really have ended that relationship? Is this the right job? Immediately after making a decision, we may feel like it was the wrong choice. We may try to go back, to re-create what we had, or choose something else. This usually doesn’t work, and if our decision was made based on sound reasoning to begin with, the new path will usually turn out to be the right one for what we need.
Any change needs a period of adjustment. Even if your decision puts you on the precise path you wish to travel, the change itself – whether it’s good change or bad – causes stress, as WebMD describes. Dealing with that stress in a healthy way will help you reduce the times you second-guess your decision, leading to accepting the change, embracing it, and moving forward in a positive direction.
How do you keep focused on the good points of your decision? One of the best ways is to remember that much of the questioning you’re experiencing about your decision comes from fear – fear of the unknown, fear that you left something “better” than you’re getting. If you focus on the reasons you made the change, not letting the “what if’s” take over, this can help you remember that you had very good reasons for choosing your new path. Techniques such as breathing (info from PsychCentral and Dr. Andrew Weil), meditation (general overview from Gaiam Life and a video from Deepak Chopra) and cognitive-behavioral therapy can help focus the mind and control negative emotions; they are a great way to support your efforts to focus on the benefits of your choice.
Of course, this can be even more difficult if there are other circumstances creating additional, non-related stress – illness or not having a good support system are just two examples. In these cases, it can be hard to differentiate between the stress caused by the secondary situation and the perceived unhappiness from the change you have made. Recognizing there is a secondary cause, and trying to separate that from the change, is extremely challenging, but necessary to help you get through the change successfully.
As a parent, it’s important to remember that children don’t have the same experience with change as we do. What seems small to you may be huge to your child – if your child reacts fearfully to something you are doing that’s different, remember s/he needs support, just like an adult going through a huge life change would. The same techniques can apply, as well as explaining to your child exactly what is happening, why, and the benefits it will bring. Also remember to allow your child to feel the fear and work through it: it’s normal and natural, and will teach him/her how to face future fearful situations.