Life changes are hard work.
And some changes are very difficult to deal with.
Sickness, divorce, bereavement, big losses and limitations take time and effort to grieve and overcome.
But even positive life changes, changes that we have hoped for and worked for — sometimes for a long time — like getting married, becoming a parent, landing a great new job, living and working in a different city or a foreign country, upset our long practiced routines.
Every day you wake up to a world that has changed.
Your old routines are disrupted. Your coping skills and survival strategies no longer fit the new situation.
What seemed far away, what you thought could never happen to you, good or bad, is now real.
This is what people mean when they talk about ‘the new normal.’ Your life has changed and what you were used to no longer exists. It’s a new life and the old life is gone.
Your new normal may be something you were always afraid of or something you always wished for. Or it may simply be so different that you could not even have imagined it.
But even if you don’t like it, it is important to accept the ‘new normal’ so that you can create a new way of life for yourself.
Where am I?
Locate yourself in your new life.
Take stock of the changes.
Be honest with yourself about what you like about your new life and what you don’t like.
Go through a day, or several days noticing all the differences, especially the very small, local ones. This is your new life now. This is your new normal. Only the present is real.
What did I leave behind?
Say goodbye to your old life.
Don’t brush it away.
Remember all the good things you lost and the bad things that are gone.
Honor your past by giving it a place in your memory, and accept that it is gone.
What is my new life rhythm?
Your new normal has a new rhythm.
Take the opportunity to choose and establish your own new routines. You can have agency in your new normal. You can make your life yours again.
Be curious about the new experiences that will shape your life now. Try to discover new territory, even if it feels intimidating.
Life rhythms express who you are.
What is missing?
As you grow into your new normal, also notice what is missing.
If you still miss the past, give yourself time to grieve.
If you still miss filling your life with things or people from your old life, try to think of ways to invite them in. Create the right circumstances.
What is emerging?
As you accept your new normal, try to spot and welcome all the new experiences and relationships that are emerging.
Including the relationship with yourself.
You are constantly growing and becoming your own self.
And at some point, you will be able to not only accept your new normal but to embrace it.
Life changes are normal
Accepting a ‘new normal’ is in itself a life skill.
Everyone goes through major life changes. If you think back over your life, you have accepted and adapted to ‘new normals’ many times.
Going to school, making friends, learning to read and write, welcoming new family members, perhaps losing a grandparent, moving home, transitioning from school to work… every time your life was new and different.
Can you remember how you met those challenges as a child?
What was difficult, and what strategies for dealing with change did you learn?
Maybe some of your issues now are made worse by earlier negative experiences. Maybe you can build on what you already learned as a child.
As your life goes on, life changes will come. Nothing is permanent.
Your routines will not stay the same, right down to that first moment when you open your eyes in the morning.
The aging process is a big life changer in itself.
Accepting change is vital for growth and happiness. Accepting that change is the only constant can be liberating – for now and all the further changes that will surely come.
Change is not just the new normal, it’s the only normal.