Everything in life is in constant movement and change. Nothing ever stops. The only constant is change itself.
Through our life we experience change in many forms, from key development milestones, as we witness our bodies grow and age, to life-changing shifts such as having children or losing loved ones. In between is a myriad of other episodic life moments where we experience the effect of change cast over a backdrop of a moving culture, a fluctuating economy and a constantly shifting environmental landscape.
Change can be hard to deal with especially when it is dropped down on you in the most unexpected and abrupt ways. You can suddenly lose balance, disconnect from your inner resources and feel unable to respond adequately to changing circumstances. In short, you enter into a crisis.
This is what the typical life crisis is made of — the inability to respond adequately to change. It is when your inner world — beliefs, emotions and attitudes — do not reflect the outer world as it changes. Anxiety and stress often stem from this inability to deal emotionally to change. Ironically the wrong response to change is often stagnation.
Resilience and adaptability to change are extremely important life skills often associated with emotional intelligence and a healthy attitude or perspective towards the self and life in general.
Here are eight core traits that are most common among people who not only adapt to change and deal with crises but actually thrive in it.
1. They Embrace Change with Excitement & Curiosity
What is the first emotion you feel when you suddenly face an unexpected change that doesn’t have a known outcome? (basically you don’t yet know whether it’s good or bad). For most people, fear or anxiety is the first thing that comes up. Fear of the unknown is one of the deepest and most pervasive of fears. If you leave this fear overcome you, it starts creating negative thought patterns and other unwanted self-sabotaging patterns.
Positive people usually get immediately excited about the prospect of change because their view on life is in general an optimistic one and therefore they always expect that good things will happen more often than bad ones. They might initially hesitate for a while but then cheer themselves up and end up looking forward to it. They embrace change. They get curious. Curiosity is an important trait to have because it engenders movement and the power to get out of a comfort zone.
2. They Avoid Patterns that Keep them Stagnant
People who are most likely to deal effectively with change implicitly know that life is in constant movement and they cannot stop and gather moss. They need to move & circulate the energy around whether it’s the energy of their thoughts, money, body, work, etc. This is a secret very few people know and follow consciously.
Stagnation goes against life because life is by its own nature movement. When they face unexpected change they make an effort to flow with it and keep themselves from getting stagnant. By stagnant I mean following the same thought patterns and doing the same thing. So these people think sideways, try new things, follow new paths or divert their attention away from the same patterns.
3. They are Emotionally Response-able
They own and take response-ability of how they are affected by a situation. Resilient people know that how they respond emotionally to life is everything. Experience is not something that happens to them but something they make out of a situation.
This simple but basic attitude changes everything and most certainly it helps you deal with any form of change and disruption. When you are emotionally responsible you do not blame life or others. You try to find new ways to look at things and people. In fact people who are emotionally intelligent find it instinctive to quickly change the energy of a situation or people around them by first changing how they feel about it. They know that responding negatively or falling victim to their own emotions is not helpful and will ultimately keep them stuck from moving forwarding and adapting to change.
4. They Keep Perspective
Perspective is key because it can change your feelings, attitude and will. Give two people the same situation and they will respond to it differently if their perspective is different. Difficulty can become a useful challenge and an opportunity to learn. Disappointment can become a life lesson that teaches more about self mastery.
Everything can be turned around with the right perspective. Successful people will always look for the right perspective to get a better angle on an apparent problem. A sudden change can be turned into a springboard that helps you leap you forward if seen from the right perspective.
5. They Know and Respect their Fears
We often hear the cliché of facing one’s own fears. I think this is sometimes interpreted as meaning being confrontational or aggressive. Successful people don’t really bust their fears. Nobody really does. They understand them more and respect them for what they are but make it a point not to be controlled by them.
In fact mentally strong people are ones who have a healthy internal dialogue. They do not push their fears away and they don’t fight or resist them either. They are just more conscious of which are those fears that are holding them back from moving forward and understand them. They befriend them, they talk to them and they might even give them names. In the end they dance to the music of life by recognizing their fears and overcome them (not fight them) through self love, courage and faith.
6. They Keep the Faith in Themselves
The last point above brings me to the following. To successfully deal with the currents of life you have to most of all keep faith in yourself. Know that you have all the resources needed to deal with ANY life situation. Do not be sidetracked by your mind that tries to make you believe you are inadequate or that you need something from somewhere or someone to solve a problem. You don’t.
People who successfully deal with change and crisis, time after time, believe that they always have the resources to push through. They do not look outwards for answers – they look inwards. They have faith that they will always look into themselves and summon up the courage, the ideas, the will, the attitude, the answer. They believe that they are connected to a creative life force that they can always tap into without any consensus from anyone.
7. They Love themselves
‘Self love’ is always misjudged by many because it sounds selfish or narcissistic. It certainly isn’t. Quite the contrary, self-love is the key to open up to the world and others with kindness and compassion. Self-love means being open to your self. You allow yourself to be human, to err, to lose and find yourself again. Most of all it means not to be harsh to yourself by criticizing or judging all the time. This would only create a negative internal dialogue that generates more negative thought patterns.
As mentioned earlier on, successful people have a healthy internal dialogue. They communicate with their subconscious and their feelings/emotions in a positive way — lovingly and accepting. They don’t judge themselves; they just learn and move on. So when the going gets tough and the world around you changes too quickly, the first step is to love yourself more.
8. They Trust Life
This is very close to the first point when I mentioned that resilient people are optimistic about change and unknown circumstances. They do not cocoon themselves in but open up their arms and trust the flow of life. They are in general optimistic because they choose to belief that life is supportive and not conspiring against them.
If bad things happen, they change perspective, take emotional responsibility and move on; but they do not lose trust in life because they know that once their attitude and perspective is good, life will respond and support them all the way.