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Surviving Change in Unsettled Times: the Most Common Stress-Induced Habits People Fall Into

M.J. Ryan, author of Adaptability, shares her insight on extreme negativity and how to make things right.

Resisting change wears down our bodies, taxes our minds, and deflates our spirits. We keep doing the things that have always worked before with depressingly diminishing results. Instead of developing adaptability, we expend precious energy looking around for someone to blame—ourselves, another person, or the world. We worry obsessively. We get stuck in the past, lost in bitterness or anger. Or we fall into denial—everything’s fine, I don’t have to do anything different. Or magical thinking—something or someone will come along to rescue me from having to change. We don’t want to leave the cozy comfort of the known and familiar for the scary wilderness of that which we’ve never experienced. And so we rail against it and stay stuck.

When the environment changes and we must therefore, too, it’s appropriate to complain—to take, in the words of Dr. Pamela Peeke, the BMW (Bitch, Moan, and Whine) out for a little spin. But soon it’s time to put it back in the driveway and get down to business. And that means developing adaptability.

Here are some of the top stress-induced habits people fall into during periods of change:


    • Getting stuck in denial.
    • Becoming paralyzed by fear or shame.
    • Spending a lot of time and energy on blame and regret.
    • Believing there is nothing you can do.
    • Focusing on the problem, rather than the solution.
    • Using only solutions that have worked in the past to solve new problems.
    • “Yes, but”-ing all options.
    • Not getting in touch with what gives you meaning and purpose.
    • Resisting or refusing to learn new things because it takes extra effort.


For in-depth advice on how to avoid these sinkholes and adapt to change in your life, check out M.J. Ryan’s new book, Adaptability, and her website:

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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