I read a quote recently that inspired me to write this blog
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”.
That is evolution, and I suppose in my opinion and to be black and white about it, when it does comes to evolution, those who adapt survive and those that don’t – may feel it’s forced, become extinct.
So how do we respond to change? Whatever form that change presents – it changes your life in some way or another.
Change is inevitable throughout our lives. I have gone through various events in the last 5 years which changed my life forever, so here’s some insight into how it effected me but most importantly, how I survived.
I married my first husband Colin in September 2011, a very happy day and one that lives with me every day. Six week later, on my birthday, I had a knock on the door where two policemen presented. Seconds later, they told me my husband had suffered a heart attack and had tragically died; he was only 36, my life changed forever.
And goodness, did my life change. I felt utter fear of what was ahead of me… how will I cope? I don’t want anything to alter or be different, I just want it to stay the same, I need him back, I am just married, it’s a mistake, someone please change it back to how it was, nobody understands…. This isn’t my normal!! This was just to name a few…….
Actually, I think I went into autopilot and wasn’t really aware of how I was behaving as I was more focussed on surviving. So are we working on autopilot when it comes to change and do we recognise how we come across to others?
So to answer my first question; how do we respond to change? – Well obviously we are all different and it varies, some people don’t like change – they like things just the way they are, where others can adapt to change well. We all respond differently and there is no right or wrong in the ways how we react, everyone is an individual.
I also ask myself the question do we respond differently when it’s forced or voluntary change. For me, the death of Colin was forced, however, I had to learn to adapt to the change by relying on support from friends, family and colleagues to ensure that I wasn’t making any major decisions as a reaction to the change (well I tell you that was some task for them), also asking for help and most importantly me accepting it.
Through time I found the strength to actually accept the change and knew who I was again, sorry actually who I had become without Colin. You know, Colin was so full and happiness and positivity, and if you know me, that is certainly the legacy he left with me when he died.
To put into context, I have talked about how I adapted to enforced change but since then I have very much embraced change and moved on. I met my now husband, Ewan in 2014 and at that point, I just knew that is was right and felt so happy, I actually couldn’t believe that I could feel like that again. I embraced my changes I re-married and moved away from my home town. I suppose what I am really trying to say is the changes that I had previously experienced, however hard, really helped me to recognise and adapt to change which made me into a much happier and stronger person.
So following on from this I do believe that we master the art of change over our lifetime of experiences which provides us with a great advantage and more importantly we learn about ourselves and how we respond to change.
I have learnt in some pretty hard lessons in life, and no matter how much we want our lives to stay the same – it just isn’t going to happen, we need to embrace it, become part of it, and make the changes inspire you.
My final word really, if you do feel yourself confused and lost in the process of change. Share any concerns, confusion and talk about it. Remembering it’s an individual’s desire to change that drives them — and that’s how I survived.
Kirsty Bell is the Clinical Change Programme Project Manager for NHS Dumfries and Galloway