The 4 steps to embracing change (even when it sucks)

Life coach Shannah Kennedy is all about ‘going with the flow’ because change leads us to great things. So how can we embrace it without fear?

The world is going through a lot of change right now, and it’s something that can make us feel incredibly unsettled and uncertain.

Speaking on Body+Soul’s daily podcast Healthy-ish, life coach, speaker and author Shannah Kennedy says that we struggle with change because our brain loves to have routine, rhythm and ritual, and it doesn’t like to go without them.

“Change is hard and change is messy, and a lot of the times we don’t expect it. You know, you might have a health scare or loss of a loved one or a job loss or redundancy or some kind of ball getting thrown your way and I think it’s really a challenge for people,” she tells host Felicity Harley on the Healthy-ish episode The 4 steps to embracing change (even when it sucks).

Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.

In her new book Plan B: A guide to navigating and embracing change, Kennedy outlines a four stage road map to dealing with change.

The idea is that it won’t feel new forever, and there are tactics to help you cope and adapt so you can reach equilibrium sooner.

“It’s like a little instruction manual on how to go through the detour so that you can get back on track,” Kennedy says.

  • Step 1: Recognising and responding to change: This is all about your immediate coping strategies when you first go off track.
  • Step 2: Healing properly: Taking the time to take a breath to heal and restore ourselves
  • Step 3: Plan B: Creating a new map and planting the little seeds. It’s about going back to our values and the important things to us.
  • Step 4: Rejoicing: Using your hindsight and new wisdom to notice that maybe the detour was important to put you in a better place than before. Maybe it’s been a blessing not a curse.

So, if change leads to better outcomes for us eventually, why do we fear it so much?

“When we feel fear, we can often feel very crippled and very stuck and overwhelmed and anxious. So we actually need to learn to move and dance a little bit with this fear so that we can move past it,” Kennedy explains.

“We need to indulge in a little bit of self-reflection about where this is coming from and then look at retraining the mind and that positive self-talk. You know, ‘you’ve got this, we can do this, and it is all going to be okay’.”

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel. We need to check on all of our options as well, the pros and the cons of what’s happening,” she adds.

An example is the pros and cons and many of us may have experienced this with ex-partners. Maybe breaking up felt like the worst thing in the world, but once you’ve healed you realise they may not have been as good for you as you thought.

It’s the same with lockdowns. Is it an opportunity to concentrate on your health, to work on a new skill, to be more mindful about your day?

“There’s always a gift every day for me living more mindfully rather than being the Type A overachieving perfectionist who’s run through life and hasn’t noticed anything,” says Kennedy, reflecting on her personal experience.

“Jugs fill drop by drop and we don’t have to do everything in one day…Just doing one thing at a time and slowing things down and being really kind to ourselves is the most important thing that we can be doing.”

If change can cause so much emotional upheaval, it must be important – right?

The answer is yes! Kennedy says we must flow with life and the changes that occur, rather than trying to crawl back against the current, and getting stuck behind rocks.

Change bring us into the future, to new facets of our life we may never have dreamed of.

“We just need to flow because when we start to push back on change all the time, we just cause ourselves an enormous amount of grief, overwhelm, exhaustion, fatigue,” she says.

“The more that we adapt to change and are open to embracing change, our life evolves and flourishes.”

Find out more about Shannah’s book, Plan B: A guide to navigating and embracing change (Penguin, $29.99), here or via her website, here. You can follow her on Instagram @shannahkennedy

Any products featured in this article are selected by our editors, who don’t play favourites. If you buy something, we may get a cut of the sale. Learn more.