DaVita® Stories

Maintaining Balance Amid Change

This post was originally published on the Family Talk Blog on Nov. 15 2017. It was republished with permission on DaVita Stories.

Everything changes. Every day our kids grow older. Companies enlarge, shrink, and become something else. Relationships develop or die. Our bodies age. New technology replaces old gadgets.  Intellectually we know—Don’t get too comfortable with the status quo. But when something changes that we value, we’re angry. Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? We react. And unless it’s something that we wanted—not too well.

Our bodies change too. In my case, it’s not for the better. When I look in the mirror I think—“That guy looks just like me, but older!”. Despite working out regularly, I am not getting stronger. And despite my efforts to lose weight, I don’t seem to make much progress. I have aches and pains that are regular visitors. The joys of getting old.

The world changes too. What is safe and secure today may become dangerous and uncertain tomorrow. Economic conditions can change on a dime. And as we saw this summer, mother nature can have her way with us.

Of course, good and great things happen too! When we get a raise or a promotion we feel happy! When our kids are doing well we celebrate. And when our relationship grows and strengthens we feel more secure.  It’s natural to feel good when our lives go from good to better or from bad to good. But even some of these positive changes can cause new challenges.

When life moves in the negative direction, we experience suffering.

So, what can we do? How can we keep our balance, our sense of stability, and our wellbeing in the midst of this sea of change? Below are a few points to keep in mind:

You are not responsible for what is outside of your control.

If the economy changes, and I lose my job, this is outside of my control. I have to accept that almost everything that happens in this world is in the hands of others or forces that are beyond my influence. I can only be responsible for what is in my control. I can only take responsibility for what is in my power. Which is not a heck of a lot!

Be patient.

A friend of mine, Sarah, was upset over her boss who seemed to be highly critical of her. This was her first job out of school and she felt vulnerable and insecure. After listening to her carefully, I encouraged her to hang on. After all, I thought, her boss might get promoted or fired. Several months later, I learned that her boss lost her job. Just as good things can become bad, so can the bad become good.

Don’t worry so much about pleasing others.

The quest for approval and appreciation is exhausting and frustrating. Some of us think that pleasing others and obtaining their approval is the secret of happiness. The problem—it’s hard to please others! And others may take us for granted and we may not get the appreciation we hope for. If you’re in the people pleasing business– retire!  The pay is lousy and the benefits stink.

Be the person that you want to be.

This is what is in your control.  What kind of person do you hope to be? How do you want to face the challenges of your life? What kind of role model do you want to be for your children? There is no justification for being grumpy, blaming others, and feeling resentful, unless that’s how you wish to be. Reach for the sky! Aspire to be kind-hearted, forgiving, loving, and generous. Go for the gold! Plan to be honest, reliable, and considerate. Don’t make excuses—learn from your missteps. And make sure to be as compassionate with yourself as you are with others.

Dr. Paul Schoenfeld

Dr. Paul Schoenfeld

Dr. Paul Schoenfeld is a clinical psychologist with The Everett Clinic, a DaVita Medical Group, and the Director of The Everett Clinic’s Center for Behavioral Health. He specializes in working with children, families and adults. In his spare time, he’s a second degree black belt in Aikido (a peaceful martial art) and teaches aikido to children in Seattle. In addition (like many Pacific Northwesterners) he likes to hike, bike, and play in the sun (and rain).