Written by Jordan Plummer Allen, therapist, Family Resources of Greater NE, PC
Merriam-Webster defines adaptation as the process of changing to fit some purpose or situation: the process of adapting. It is my opinion that the best lives are filled with growth and changes that demand that one adapts in order to see these changes as gifts and opportunities for improvement. Charles Darwin spent his career studying the concept of adaptation. He found species of the same bird on different islands with differing beaks that allowed them to more efficiently eat the food supply available to them. Adaptation also means progress. Adaptation has brought safety, comfort and increased enjoyment to our lives. It’s hard to see how adaptation could be a bad thing. However, if instead we use the word “change” it may bring about a mix of emotions. Therapists spend a great part of their time with clients encouraging change or adaptation.
Adapting to change can bring on discomfort and feelings of insecurity. The frustration of losing what was once familiar to us often slows the process and for some and can bring it to a grinding halt. Focusing on what one has control over is what makes or breaks progress from occurring. No matter what happens in our lives, life keeps moving and we must do our best not to be left behind. Adding to the self-imposed resistance to adaptation are those around us who will offer resistance. Those who know us best often struggle with the changes we attempt to make in our lives, challenging us along the way. Another down side to adaptation is the risk of failure. Change is not easy. To embark on this journey allows for the possibility for failure. However, if there is no risk the reward would mean nothing.
There are tools that can be used to combat discomfort, lack of support from those around you and the fear of failure: goal setting. Goal setting is critical to success. Goals are most helpful when they are measureable. Rather than setting a goal “I will be nicer at work” set it as “I will give two compliments each day to my coworkers.” Measurable goals hold us accountable and keep us on track.
Secondly, write goals down and post them where they will be viewed several times a day, such as a bathroom mirror.
Next, find people who will support you in these goals and inspire you to stick to them. Eliminate the non-supporters in your life; change is hard enough on your own. Don’t allow naysayers to have an influence on your journey. Finally, be disciplined but realistic. You won’t adapt overnight. It is a process and you will have days that you fail. Battles will be lost. But you must keep your mind set on winning the war. Be kind to yourself and be encouraging to yourself, you are your greatest cheerleader. Now go out and shake those pom poms.