Jameson: Don't hide from change


I never set out to be the poster child for change. But I believe I qualify. Just since July, I have gone through more changes than a newborn: I have gotten a new house, new car, new job and new cellphone number (as a result of a new job).

I feel like I’m in the witness protection program.

This is piled on top of many more changes over the last year. Just for sick fun I’ll recap: I’ve moved three times, got divorced, sent my youngest off to college and started dating. (Yeep!)

Although I am not out to win the “Most Life Changes” contest, if there were one, could we agree that I'd win? That would make me feel better, somehow.

Why am I telling you all this in a home column? Because, I have never been able to talk about home design without talking about home life. Life events affect home life the way tossed pebbles affect a pond.

Hence the expression: That hits home.

Whether you’re suddenly single or newly married, whether the kids have left the nest or a baby is on the way, whether a new job causes you to move out or an aging parent moves in, whether you buy a new home or sell an old one, you will feel the ripples, if not the tsunami waves, right where you live.

You can swim with the tide, sink with the wreckage, or hold on through the white water for dear beautiful, unpredictable life.

While I wouldn’t recommend my life of change on steroids any more than I would recommend traveling at galactic speed without a spaceship, I can offer some advice to those contemplating or navigating change, including changes you didn't ask for. For help, I tapped one of my favorite life-change experts, Russell Friedman, author of many books including, “Moving On.”

“The essence of life is change,” said Friedman, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., who says any change, even good change, brings feelings of grief, which he defines as “the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern or behavior.”

“And what do you call the end of or change in an entire familiar life?”

“Good or bad, change causes unsettling feelings because the brain craves sameness,” he said. “But that’s no reason to dodge it.”

Here are some ways Friedman suggests to move forward when considering tough changes that will hit home:

• Face the fear. Fear is a normal reaction to change. It’s smart to be scared of the unknown, but if you allow fear to dominate, you scare yourself into inactivity, said Friedman, adding that fear keeps many people stuck. Don't ignore it. Acknowledge it, and move on.

• Get unstuck. If you’re stuck in a situation — house, relationship or job — that isn’t working, ask what has to happen for the situation to improve. “To make a change, you need to be more afraid of the way things are than of the way things could be," said Friedman. “We all come up with the what-if list. But the only ‘what if’ that matters is what if I don’t make a change?” The question to ask is: Can you be scared and take new action anyway?

• Listen to your intuition. Trust your inner voice, said Friedman. “Bigger problems arise when we override our intuition. Then we compromise, and settle.”

• Have close friends. Loners don’t fare as well through life's turbulent times as those who have close friends and family members to talk to. I cling to mine like a flotation device.

• Cultivate resiliency. The late Al Seibert, who founded the Resiliency Center in Portland, Ore., studied what made some people roll through tough changes better than others. Those who bounced back best were adaptable, flexible mentally and emotionally, and had the right attitude. They look for the good that came from a bad situation.

• Expect things to work out. Optimism helps. “Optimists are hopelessly romantically engaged in the possibility of what could be,” said Friedman. “It’s a great virtue. Negative people will always think the sky is falling.” I call it being delusional. But, hey, whatever works.

• Find a new familiar. Changes — whether small like a new cellphone and number, ouch, or large like a new house and new job — disrupt our lives because they disrupt our patterns. Have faith that all will feel familiar again soon.

The other night, as I was making dinner in my new home of one month for a new man friend, he noticed that I was adapting: “You aren’t opening as many drawers looking for things as you used to,” he said. He was right. I used to open three drawers looking for the hot pads or tongs, now it’s just one or two. I’m getting used to the new normal. And it’s a good thing.

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.

Marni Jameson

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press)
Last modified: August 28, 2014
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