Embracing change – part 2

Women to Work

Change can evoke many feelings, both positive and negative, and it doesn’t always follow that good change brings positive feelings and bad change brings negative feelings. It can be a whole confusing bag of jumbled up, conflicting emotions.

In part 1 we looked at how an understanding of what might be happening to us during times of change and transition can help us to acknowledge and accept that what we are feeling is expected and normal, potentially helping to make our experience of change slightly easier.

In part 2 we have a couple of self-coaching tools that we’ve found to be really helpful during times of uncertainty, change, and worry.

Ultimately change is going to happen, it’s ironically about the only thing we can be sure of! Often we will have very little control over a situation, but one thing is certain – we can all still control the way we respond and our attitude to a given situation.

Perhaps a changing situation is leaving you feeling worried, or concerned about something. Perhaps like me, your worries attract worries, and before you know where you are you have a whole long list of ‘stuff’ that’s leaving you feeling worked up!

Try this quick and easy tool to ‘calm’ some of the worry:

1. Write down everything you are worrying about in a big list – get it all down, big or small.

2. Now take each statement and consider whether that statement is “True”, “False” or “Don’t Know” and write this down next to each statement

3. For all of the “False” statements put a cross through them and forget them! They are not true so there is no reason to worry about them!

4. For all of the “True” statements, consider some options that might help you to deal with them; e.g. support from a friend, find out some more information, practice relaxation techniques and so on…

5. For all of the “Don’t Know” statements, how can you find out some more information so you can decide if this statement is “True” or “False”? Write down your ideas to gather some more information….or make a promise to yourself that you won’t worry about it until you know for a fact that it is actually “True” or “False”.

In some situations it’s the worry about what might happen that is more debilitating than the thing itself, so looking in detail at what you know to be “True” and eliminating the statements that are in fact “False” or you “Don’t Know” can be really helpful.

By the way, we’d love to reference this tool as we think it’s great but we can’t find out who created it – let us know if you know!

We also regularly use a technique in coaching, which derives from the work of two leading cognitive behavioural therapists and researchers, Aaron Beck (1976) and Albert Ellis (1962). The technique was then adapted by Professor Martin Seligman, author of “Learned Optimism” (1990).

In simple terms, we can change the way we respond to a situation by changing the way we think about it, and in particular by looking at the beliefs we hold about the situation.

Adverse events will occur but how we think about these events can increase or reduce our difficulties in dealing with them.

Try the ABCDE technique to change the way you think about a situation:

A Adversity – what is the problem being faced?

B Belief(s) – what do I believe about this problem?

C Consequences – what are the consequences to me of holding onto this belief? What are the effects to me of feeling like that? E.g. scared, worried, stressed?

D Disputation – dispute the belief. Look at it differently and make a choice – choose a different approach, a different way of looking at it.

E Energisation – what difference does this change of belief make? Am I now more likely to take positive action? How do I feel now?

An important question to ask yourself when using this technique is, “what price do I pay for holding onto these beliefs?”

And remind yourself that “ultimately I am the only person who can control what I think about a situation and I have a choice to change those thoughts and beliefs”.

It can take time to embed this approach into your everyday thinking and sometimes writing down the elements of ABCDE can be helpful. With practice this technique can be used regularly and efficiently in many different scenarios.

Remember, change happens, you can choose how you respond. It’s not always easy, but practice with these tools really helps.

Good luck and let us know how you get on!


Emma Shute & Jenny Pollock are the founders and coaches with Women to Work.

They support women who are dealing with change through their Work Life Discovery Workshops and One to One Coaching.