How doing something positive helps us navigate change

The world is changing …

How often do we hear this said? Often with some trepidation or as if it is something that has never happened before. 

Sometimes we fear the thought of change or maybe we are proud of the changes. Perhaps we don’t believe the world is changing.

But it is true – the world is changing and has been changing since the very beginning, whenever and whatever you perceive that to be.

So, if the world has always been changing, why would we worry about it now?

The thing with change is, when it happens gradually, things ebb and flow and find their place more easily. Their place may be a bit different, as may be their purpose, but there is time to adapt and evolve.

When things change quickly however, there is not always the opportunity to adapt. The ebb and flow is more like a crashing, dumping tidal wave, grabbing whatever is in its path and throwing it wherever it feels like, often with little or no notice.

Things do appear to change more quickly than they used to … even in my lifetime, I feel the difference in rate of change. I’m sure kids grow a lot quicker than they used to … surely my eldest granddaughter isn’t in kindy already?

Places change too … buildings come and go, beaches get bigger and smaller, trees disappear, forests make way for ‘progress’. Often, going back to a place you have been before can be a whole new adventure as you struggle to recognise familiar sights.

A yellow and black car drives down an Indian laneway. The laneway is filled with small shops, signs and motorbikes.

Some changes are small and affect only a small number of people, in fact some may only affect one person … at least directly. Mostly, we manage to adapt to these changes … we ebb and flow our way to the new state of being and settle quite comfortably. 

Sometimes this is not so easy, and we have to forge our way forward until we come to a place where we feel okay, at least for now. It may take time and effort, with a few steps forward and a few steps back – a snakes and ladders kind of dance, but we get there in the end. 

At times it can be hard to see the end and maybe you, like me, are still doing the snakes and ladders dance. When this is the case, it is the continuing of the dance that is important and acknowledging that perhaps the outcome you were seeking may not be the one you end up with. And that is okay.

A mother a daughter, wearing green beanies and colourful masks, smile for the camera on a winter's day.

By doing something positive, even something small, our actions have a positive effect.

Some changes, like climate change, technology, pandemics, and war are massive. They affect everybody and can feel like a tidal wave over which we have no control. Whether you are directly or indirectly affected, it can be overwhelming, stressful, frightening and incredibly sad. A feeling of helplessness, a what-on-earth-can-I-do-ness can overtake you and sweep you away. 

Lately, it’s been easy to feel a bit that way.

When I think about what is going on in the world at the moment, I wonder what on earth can I do? How can I do the dance when I don’t know the steps? What difference can I possibly make?

Actually, all the difference. 

By doing something positive, even something small, our actions have a positive effect. These little, positive effects can work together to help you and others navigate change. 

A touching example captured the hearts of the world last week – a little girl singing “Let it Go” in a Ukraine bomb shelter. Her small, positive action in the face of inconceivable adversity brought a moment of joy to others and helped share her nation’s plight. 

So, when the tidal wave of change comes and you wonder how to get through it, look to find pockets of joy and share them with others …

About the Author

Engel Prendergast, Mental Health Consultant, Mental Strides

Engel Prendergast is a Mental Health Consultant, working with organisations and groups to build a culture that supports good mental health.

Engel is an accredited Mental Health First Aid and safeTALK Instructor, and Lifeline Crisis Supporter and Mentor. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Health Promotion), Diploma of Counselling, and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

With natural compassion, a determination to help others and extensive experience in training and facilitation, Engel provides an environment that fosters learning and ownership.

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