Dealing with change | Advice for young people | Jigsaw Online

Dealing with change

We face many changes throughout our lives

Moving from primary to secondary school, eventually leads us to start college or enter the workforce. Some of us move to a new home or even a new country. Change can occur within our families, such as separation, divorce, or the death of a family member. The world itself goes through many changes. The political, environmental, and social environments are always in flux.

Change can be exciting, but often feels daunting or exhausting. No matter what we feel about it, change is inevitable and can’t be avoided. When we’re struggling, often the problem isn’t the change itself, but how we deal with it. We can’t always control change, but can learn how to manage our feelings about it.

We can’t always control change, but can learn how to manage our feelings about it.

Welcoming change into our lives

There are many changes we choose, and welcome with anticipation. For example, we expect a new job will be exciting and interesting or can’t wait to finish school and start college. Even if we orchestrate a change and feel positive, there may also be a loss or negative feelings involved.

Examples of change include:

  • Moving schools
  • Moving homes
  • Relationships ending
  • Starting a new job
  • Starting college
  • Death of a family member or friend
  • Parents separating or divorcing.

For us to arrive at something ‘new’, we must first give up something ‘old’. It’s OK to have mixed emotions in these cases, feeling fear and excitement as much as sadness and happiness. Doubt about whether we’ve made the right decision can often creep in as well.

Being able to talk about and share our range of emotions can be helpful. Take time to acknowledge what you’re leaving behind. If you are having second thoughts about a change you made, talk these through with someone you trust. If it is affecting our day to day activities, we might need to introduce some ways to deal specifically with these feelings.

Dealing with change we don’t choose

Unfortunately, we all experience unwelcome changes in our lives. Some will be changes other people have control over. These could be our parents making a decision to move or a partner choosing to end a relationship. Others will be outside of anyone’s control, for example an accident or bereavement.

Sudden change

When a change happens suddenly or unexpectedly, it’s not unusual to feel shock or grief. Confusion about what has happened can cause us to take a while to wrap our heads around it. Give yourself time to come to terms with the change. Reach out and talk to people around you about how you are feeling.

Planned change

Hearing about a planned change, can cause us to feel shock, anger or anxiety. These reactions are not unusual and it’s good to talk about them. Writing down your thoughts can help you work out what you feel. Share these thoughts with people close or those involved with instigating the change. Even if we don’t agree with changes we anticipate, there will likely come a time where we grow to accept them.

If it is affecting our day to day activities, we might need to introduce some ways to deal specifically with these feelings.

How you can deal with the change ahead:

Are there any positives in the situation? Focus on the positive impacts no matter how small they may seem. Try to shift your attention from the negatives.

Picture someone else in your shoes. What would you say to them, what would you advise?

We often imagine the worst case scenario will result from the change. If you find yourself doing this, think about how you would deal with the worst case. Talk this through with a trusted friend or family member who can help you identify possible outcomes and solutions.

Bear in mind, once a change happens, even if we don’t agree with, there will likely come a time where we grow to accept it. Remind yourself of something you may have been dreading in the past and how that panned out. Uncertainty can add often add feelings of anxiety. So, while the lead up to the change can be difficult, once it actually happens you can begin to deal with it and it becomes easier with time.

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