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Coping with Change—Especially As We Age

At a recent meeting with older adults, one of the participants leaned over and asked me, earnestly, "How do you cope with change?" I replied, "It's very difficult." Several possible answers flashed through my mind--a flippant one, "with difficulty"; but I managed too look carefully at this young man, twenty plus years younger than I, and realized he was suffering.

He was really asking me for help in managing the changes occurring in his life. The question he asked was very profound, and it is one that assails us through all phases of our lives. I knew he had just been promoted "up" from active director of a company he founded to chairman of the board, an honorary position, but not one that carried the responsibility of day-to-day management. He was suffering from a challenge to his identity and to his own adjustment to his changing status.

Read the rest at AOL/Huffington Post's Healthy Living.

Thanks as usual to Gina Misiroglu of Red Room for putting me in touch with the Huffington Post people. It’s just one of the great ways she's bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room's authors.

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I'm impressed

There are no easy answers to the question of coping with change. I talked to several people in different stages of their lives, looking for answers while I was preparing this article. 

Rhoda, I'm impressed with the variety of situations you delved into. So many factors create change in lives. And how do we succeed in handling a new life? Of the means of coping you list,  willingness to re-assess the need to adapt and to adjust seems the most difficult. And as you point out, the process is going to be difficult. Ah, but it's worth it. 

What's the alternative? Letting someone else run your life? That's not an easy thing to accept, so you might as well fight for and develop your own life style.

Hang in there, folks.

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How We Process/Perceive Change

 How we process and/or perceive change impacting our lives  is a variable of (1) as noted in your full Huffington Post article, whether the change is one we voluntarily make for ourselves or one made for and imposed upon us and (2) where the change falls on a scale of its perceived positive to negative effect on us. But, at the core, it's really our  overall attitude pattern toward and "comfort level" with  change that determines how we view it

For example, a person preferring the familiar over the new and different, will typically avoid  even potentially beneficial self-initiated changes and  reflexively dislike or fear  imposed changes, closing their minds to any possible benefits from either type.  In this respect, one  with a more flexible, open-minded  personality will adapt better by "making the best of a bad situation", whereas one with a more rigid personality will often be unable/unwilling to envision anything good resulting from change of any kind and dwell on the worst in their  current circumstances as well.

 Then there are always those somewhat unaware people ("ignorance is bliss") who are comfortable and complacent, and  if that frame of mind works in a pragmatic way,  far be it from me to criticize or awaken them.   While we're all at risk from unexpected/unwanted external changes forced upon us, for the most part each person creates his/her own reality, as captured in the folk wisdom, "You lie in the bed you make for yourself."

I can't resist leaving this topic without relating it to yet another saying with wide applicability, "The more things change, the more they remain the same"; that is, there are certain eternal verities of our human condition such as our mortality that are unchanging, making many  so-called changes essentially superficial rearrangements of  "the deck chairs on the Titanic".