Change: Learning to Enjoy the Mess

Posted on July 12, 2016

While large-scale change is likely to be somewhat discomfiting, each of us can diminish the stress it brings by developing greater tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity.

Why Change is Difficult

Organizations and human beings have a natural tendency to preserve stability. Stable and long-standing processes, procedures and cultures at their best can enable our organizations to function smoothly and consistently. When our environment is stable, ordinary routines ease our stress levels. Life is more predictable when we can experience a sense of control over our outcomes.

Tolerance for Ambiguity: The Key to Handling Change

While actions such as exercising, meditating and deep breathing are effective antidotes for the symptoms of stress and anxiety, developing a higher tolerance for ambiguity gets to the root cause of these tensions. Research studies show that people with high tolerance for ambiguity tend to experience less stress, think more clearly, and have a greater sense of well-being than those who are less tolerant.

Summary and Conclusions

Change is upsetting because it disrupts our sense of stability. Unfortunately, many of us still experience change as threatening. We can, however, reframe our thoughts to view change as challenging rather than something to fear. By reframing our views of change, hopefully we can also decrease our negative emotional reactions to it.

When we feel threatened we may resist changing, dig in and hold onto the familiar. Often such reactions only increase the dysfunction and anxiety. However, if we accept ambiguity as a fact of life and consciously raise our threshold for it, we are less likely to be anxious and more likely to make thoughtful decisions.


Category(s):Adjusting to Change / Life Transitions

Source material from Greenleaf Publishing


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