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Making time to accommodate life’s changes

For readers allergic to perky proverbs, please turn away now: A change is as good as a rest.

You can open your eyes now, but I advise continued caution as I cannot promise an idiom-free column. The topic of change is proverbial velcro – it attracts a lot of them on account that the only constant in life is change [or so my mate Heraclitus said sometime around 500BC].

The observant reader would have seen that Stuff Group has purchased the Times-Age. The announcement was published on Thursday.

It is the change du jour in Aotearoa’s news industry, and in that sense, we are very on trend.

From a personal perspective, the news of the sale, when it arrived, felt like a wave I’d been watching approach from afar was suddenly crashing on my shore.

It felt both inevitable and surprising all at the same time.

In the wake of the announcement, I’ve discovered that grappling with sudden change is as much a physical as a mental game.

I have found myself drawing on some of the brain-based tips and techniques folk in the wellbeing trade will tell you are very useful during times of upheaval.

But, to be honest with you, I’ve been reluctant.

Evaluating my level of control, practising self-care, giving myself time, and talking to loved ones have been the last things I’ve wanted to do.

That’ll be the denial talking. And who can blame me?

According to neuroscientist and author Beau Lotto, humans are biologically wired to resist change.

“To ensure your survival, your brain evolved to avoid one thing: Uncertainty … if your ancestors wondered for too long whether that noise was a predator or not, you wouldn’t be here right now.”

The physical manifestations of experiencing change have probably been more unexpected.

Achy joints, tiredness, a sudden cold, lousy sleep.

All par for the course, apparently. When faced with stress, the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response automatically kicks in. Hormones like adrenaline and cortisol start racing around the body, urging you to take emergency action.

The very thought of it is exhausting.

Modern prophets of our self-help culture have made a lot of money trying to help us rewire our biological resistance to change by generating a barrage of inspirational quotes.

Tony Robbins – he of the big white teeth and even bigger bank balance – tells us that “by changing nothing, nothing changes”. Thank you, Tony.

Oprah Winfrey informs us that “the greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude”. I’m sure you’re right, Oprah.

Even Socrates had something to say about it: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

He’s got a point and highlights something about being a human that I am taking comfort from: We might hate change, but thanks to our enormous brains, humans are incredibly adaptable to it once we’ve overcome the initial shock.

Time to hand the mic to Dolly Parton, I think: “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”

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