Jenna couldnÕt believe her ears when her boss told her that the old comfortable computer system she had been using for years was being replaced with a newer, slicker more sophisticated system—and she would have to learn the new system and train her eight co-workers.
She suddenly felt her heart beating hard, and shock was beginning to set in. A million thoughts were racing through her head.
ÔWhat was wrong with the old computer system? I havenÕt had to learn something major like this in years. I used to be the one who knew the system best, now IÕll be on the same playing field with everyone else I work with.Õ
All of a sudden, that panic turned to anger. ÔI canÕt believe my boss would do this to me! I have so much going on in my life, and now hereÕs another thing to worry about!Õ
Then, resistance. ÔIÕm going to make sure I prove that the computer system we currently have is just fine. After all, weÕve been using it all these years! IÕll give my boss all the reasons why we shouldnÕt switch.Õ
As JennaÕs day went on, she got herself so worked up that she failed to complete the items on todayÕs To Do list. She went home and decided she was too upset to do the laundry she planned to do tonight. And when she went to bed, it was a restless night as she tossed and turned thinking about this computer system change.
Of course, by the next day, things were even worse. Because she couldnÕt sleep the previous night, she woke up late and now had to rush to get to work. She opened her closet to grab the peach shirt she wanted to wear for a client meeting today, only to remember that it was in the laundry pile that she never got to last night. Finally, she got to work and her To Do list was double what it normally was, because it included both todayÕs new work, plus yesterdayÕs work.
In the end, after going through another week of frustration being caused in her own mind, the new computer system was installed, Jenna began learning it, she managed to set up a training system and she even began liking it after all.
When Jenna learned of this change that was going to take place, she met SARA:
1. (S) Shock
2. (A) Anger
3. (R) Resistance
4. (A) Acceptance
Most people meet SARA when something in their lives is going to change that they are not happy about and that they feel they have little control over. ItÕs a natural process.
Some people are actually able to get through the four stages of SARA in minutes, while others can spend days, weeks, months or even years dealing with each of the stages.
The only way to begin dealing with the change in a progressive, productive and stress-free manner is to get to the Acceptance cycle as quickly as possible. This is the most organized and efficient way to handle change.
Nothing is being solved when youÕre in the Shock, Anger or Resistance stages. In fact, in these three stages, one is most likely to fall behind on her daily tasks, and to waste tons of precious time feeling down.
In some instances, change that is Ôlife-changingÕ is more difficult to get through. For example, itÕs not very easy to deal with a loved one getting ill.
However, ninety-nine percent of the changes happening every day, are not Ôlife-changing.Õ Basically, most changes take us just a bit out of our comfort zones leading us into new experiences weÕre not yet familiar with. This doesnÕt have to be as scary as it may sound.
Here are a few simple ways to organize your mind for change:
When you learn of a change in your life as you feel shock beginning to set in, think of SARA. Take a deep breath and keep repeating to yourself that you will get through this, just as youÕve gotten through other changes in your life.
For example, maybe your favorite store closed down, or your best friend moved to another state or your bank has a new system for making deposits. If you really think about it,
youÕve probably dealt with thousands of changes in your life, and managed to get through each one just fine.
Anger generally occurs when one is feeling out of control. In JennaÕs situation, she was out of control as far as the computer system being switched. It was going to be switched whether she liked it or not. However, she was in control of how she was feeling—although she didnÕt realize it. She focused on all the negative aspects and didnÕt even think about all the positive aspects that would come later from this new system.
Write up a list of all the positive things you could think of that will come from the changes in your life.
For example, Jenna might have written a list that looked something like:
á a) Once I learn it, IÕll have less tedious work which will give me more time to focus on other more challenging projects that IÕve been putting off.
á b) It will ensure my work is more accurate.
á c) It will give me the opportunity to show my boss how good I am at training others.
Resisting a change thatÕs going to happen regardless of your resistance is not a good use of your time.
Try to re-focus your thoughts and your energy on the new opportunities, new challenges and new ways to grow that are now ahead of you. The sooner you embrace those changes, the sooner theyÕll be part of your regular comfortable daily routine.
In JennaÕs case, she neglected to do the laundry because she was so upset and resistant about this pending change. But this type of thinking did nothing more than force her to fall behind on her laundry. Instead, she could have done the laundry and used that time thinking of how she would begin approaching this new change in a constructive manner.
Once you start focusing on the opportunities ahead, instead of the change and begin working on the details about how youÕre going to begin managing this change, youÕve reached the most productive stage of SARA—the acceptance stage.
In JennaÕs case, she finally accepted that the computer system was going to change, no matter what. So now, she had a decision to make. In her case, there were only 2 decisions: a) embrace the change and start learning the system or b) get herself another job—more change! Jenna decided to just learn the new system.
Get a set of index cards. On each, write down one specific thing youÕre going to do to begin managing this change.
JennaÕs cards might include:
á a) Meet with the programmers to determine the benefits of the new system, so I could begin familiarizing the other staff members.
á b) Determine what has to be learned and make a list of those items.
á c) Set a timeline to learn each part, etc. etc.
Remember SARA when you have to deal with a change in your life. Knowing and acknowledging her will help you keep your mind organized, your time productive and your life as stress-free as possible.
ŌLife is not the way itÕs SUPPOSED to be. ItÕs the way it IS. The way you cope with it makes the difference.Ķ -Virginia Satir
Meet SARA! written by longtime SMART Recovery member ÔMarkyÕ, reprinted with permission.