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Big Life Changes – how flexible and adaptable are you?

I heard on the news this morning that they have done an experiment on some starlings, to gather information on the impact of anti depressants (Fluoxetine or Prozac) in our U.K. water system, as a result of so many people taking happy pills and peeing it back out into the water course.  (See http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/ampp3d/whats-in-our-water-4516573 for the full news article)

They said it is having a profound impact on feeding habits as they seem to get really chilled about eating and instead of having peaks of hunger and searching out a decent meal they snack all day instead!  So they are losing weight.   It is reducing their sex drive too and they are losing interest in potential mates!

Nature is wonderfully and deeply adaptable and this video shows how the wolves who were introduced into Yellowstone Park impacted the whole environment. For the much better – it seems to me.

As I was thinking through what I heard on the radio this morning about birds and watching the video below, I began to think about my own ability to adapt.   After all I too am ‘nature’ and must be hard wired to adapt.    I realised that for me there seems to be a time element involved that I hadn’t really accounted for.   Nature isn’t hurried.   It took a while for the trees to grow back once the wolves were there.

I moved to a completely new area of the UK 6 months ago and I am still learning how to adapt to this new style of life.   I have been rather cross with myself for not being quicker at adapting but I guess I have to give me some time.

In my NLP training we were taught the ‘The Law of Requisite Variety’ which is a presupposition of NLP.   It states that the system/person with the most flexibility of behaviour will control the system. It is also the first law of Cybernetics.   The idea is that if you are the person most able to be most flexible in the room or meeting you will control the outcomes and agenda.

Actually I have to say that hasn’t always been my personal experience.    Although I understand the principle I have noticed that the most stubborn person – the person who is the least flexible – sometimes ends up controlling the room!   I guess I don’t always have to give in to the person who is most controlling and stuck in their view of how they want things to run but it is so much easier to get to agreement if I can flex when they can’t!   Perhaps that is a development point for me – maybe I need to be more flexible in order to choose to be inflexible from time to time!    Ah, life is full of paradoxes!

Where flexibility and adaptability is really useful is when we go through big life changes.   Moving house, changing jobs, saying goodbye to loved ones and dealing with bereavement and grief, to name but a few of the sort of big changes most of us have to face from time to time.

So how can we work on our adaptability for such times?   After all, we are all creatures of habit to some extent.   When we get used to a routine it can take some time to get used to a completely different set of circumstances and I share here a couple of strategies I have found to be useful in case they are of value to you too.

  1. Be kind to yourself.   If it feels strange and uncomfortable then remind yourself that you are learning and adapting, so be generous to yourself if you are a bit clunky with it or slower than you wish.
  2. At the same time it is worth taking time out to plan what it will be like when you have fully adapted and plan for yourself to flow into the new way as quickly as possible.

In NLP we call that planning – Future Pacing 

This means that in your mind you run an imagined movie of how your world will be once you are fully comfortable in the new circumstances.   Make the movie life size and full colour and with a surround-sound sound track.   See what you will look like, and how you will feel, and what you will be doing differently.  Be sure to remember to include lots of fun and happiness and relaxing times if that would suit you.   You can also check the effect on your family and friends and others to make sure you are minimising the potential for problems as a result of your changes.

By doing this you are letting your unconscious know what you are aiming for and giving it the chance to help you.   Also it means that once you have a good idea of what you are aiming for you will be more likely to notice when you are off track and be able to adjust and adapt accordingly.

I am so glad I was reminded of these principles by the bird interview this morning and the wolf video.

Over the last week or so I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with busy-ness and now I have stopped for 20 minutes to write this blog and do my own future pacing!   Well I am human, and far from perfect.   But I am glad I remembered now 🙂   I am being a lot kinder to myself inside now too which feels much nicer and more relaxing.

I have some clients booked in next week who are coming to see me because they feel overwhelmed and somewhat out of control and I know I will be teaching them to do this too.   It is great how life conspires to teach and remind you of important things when you need them!

If you are reading this and have been having to deal with a major life change and you try the two simple techniques mentioned above – please comment below to let me know how they helped you.

And if you have any other cool ideas about how to deal with major life changes so you flow with them instead of struggling then definitely please share in the comments below!

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