Last Updated on 21st January 2022
Navigating painful and ‘out of the blue’ situations can be confusing and induce a fear of being outside the status-quo – so how do we cope better next time?
Psychologist and SmileDirectClub partner, Linda Papadopoulos explains how adaptable people fare better during times of change, how it IS possible to train yourself to follow suit, and why January is the perfect time to put this into practice.
To train yourself to become more adaptable and cope better with change, I recommend adopting the three Cs which are simple techniques grounded in university-led longitudinal research studies.
With any negative change, it’s important to give ourselves time to emotionally react and appreciate how we feel but it’s equally important to acknowledge what we can control within the situation. For example, if you lose your job, you can control if you choose to increase your skills and enhance your CV, or how many people you connect with for support.
We know that people who exert their influence over aspects of their lives they can control are able to moderate their negative feelings around change, and more importantly, feel more adequate about their ability to cope.
A Commitment Attitude
We are living in a ‘New World’ post-Covid so we may feel restricted by having to wear a mask or socially distance, but regardless of these measures, adaptable people will commit to a life they can enjoy. Whatever difficult scenario we face, we can commit to seeing ourselves as fully engaged in the process of re-emerging from it in a position of strength.
If we lose a relationship or a job, we need to commit to believing we are still loveable or still employable. It can be easy to become disengaged and believe we will never find love or another job again. This attitude was prevalent during the pandemic, but it feeds into negativity and brings us down. It’s far better to commit to a life we can still enjoy regardless of what’s happening.
The Challenge Attitude
In my view, it can be very toxic to think we are trying to reach happiness and will press pause when we arrive. Perfection is only captured in a moment but there are many other wonderful things in life to bring fulfilment and happiness rather than perfection. We can engage in a meaningful activity or enjoy having worked hard and earned a reward.
The Challenge Attitude suggests that people who fare best when dealing with life’s trials and tribulations view problems as challenges. Rather than seeing a mountain ahead which they cannot climb, they see a Rubik’s Cube – a puzzle which needs to be solved.
Adaptability is part of resilience and having an optimistic outlook and being grateful for what we have helps to build our resilience. For example, for those whose self-esteem is wholly balanced upon how they look, getting a spot will obviously affect them. But if we can be grateful for our talents and accomplishments, and recognise they span many different areas, we prime our brain to look for what’s working within our lives rather than what’s not.
What precedes behavioural changes is changes in our attitudes, so it is absolutely possible to train yourself to become more adaptable. We must believe that trying helps get us where we want to be.
Becoming more adaptable in 2022
Sticking to your resolutions in the New Year can be difficult but these goals orientate us and give us structure. It’s important we are specific; we shouldn’t just be motivated to ‘make life better’. When it comes to our resolutions, making them stick is partly about becoming more adaptable with the three Cs above.
We should also focus on our actions rather than outcomes. If your goal is to lose weight, your self-esteem will be at the mercy of what the scales say. Instead, we can focus on action vs outcome, validating ourselves based on the actions we engage in such as going to the gym or choosing a healthy option for breakfast. Inevitably we will get the outcome we want, but more than that, our consciousness will be oriented towards the actions that we need to focus upon to meet our goals.
SmileDirectClub, which provides a convenient way for anyone to achieve a beautiful confidence boosting smile, commissioned a piece of research in September 2021 which showed just one in 10 Brits set resolutions at the start of the year. Seventeen per cent of those surveyed said they failed to achieve these, with just over a third saying they had failed to set realistic goals. This demonstrates how it’s important to set yourself achievable targets.
If you’re not a great runner, rather than signing yourself up to a marathon, validate yourself by walking around the block as a starting point. Doing this will gradually increase confidence which will promote a feeling of competence and make it easier to make those incremental changes that will lead to achieving your ultimate goals. This makes you less likely to give up on the targets you set yourself just a few weeks ago.