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Monday, September 3, 2012

How Do You Handle Change and Loss?

What You Can Control

You cannot control everything that happens, but you are responsible for your reactions to what happens to you. If you become rigid, defensive, and stuck, you will experience deterioration and disorder. If you stay open to grieving losses and use your energy to grow, you can transform a loss into a gain. Avoid becoming victim and trying to get others to rescue you.

Gains Can Include Losses

Sometimes changes that appear to be gains can also include losses that need to be recognized. The summer I got married, I had planned a trip to Europe with a friend. Giving up the trip was difficult. Eight years later my husband had a job transfer to Germany. We lived there for two and a half years and traveled extensively.

I started my career as a teacher. My husband went to college while I taught school. I became active in teachers' groups and eventually became President of the Sanger Elementary Teachers Association. My husband's graduation and the birth of our first child occurred simultaneously. My husband got a job in Sacramento. The move meant a loss of my career, the loss of friends and of having an important place in the community, the loss of our church, the loss of bringing in income. The new baby, although a joy and very much wanted, brought a loss of freedom to go and come as I pleased. It was very difficult and I went through all the stages of grieving.

Learning from Change

I learned. I found strengths I didn't know I had. I did a lot of introspection. I learned the importance of relationships and how to communicate better. I had always wanted to write. This was the perfect time to explore that interest and see if I could write for publication. I took a class on how to sell what you write. I used my family as models. Eventually I wrote a book, "How to Keep the Family That Prays Together From Falling Apart." That led to doing workshops on parenting and then to an interest in going back to school to get my degree in Counseling Psychology. I have been a psychotherapist for more than 30 years. I have come to realize that every loss in life can be a stepping stone to greater learning and maturity.

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