Over the past few weeks, our blog posts have been highlighting some important areas to understand about the impact of change, along with some strategies that we can use to help a person through change.
This week, we’d like to focus on what’s important to not ‘assume’ about transitioning.
Each and every person will have a different experience of change, and every person will have different ways of handling or coping with change and transition.
One thing that we hear time and again (and also understand from a personal perspective) in regard to people moving through change, is that they can often hide their feelings of uncertainty and stress and only release this when they feel safe and secure (usually in the home environment or with family or friends whom they trust).
Whilst ‘hiding the stress’ is a protective mechanism that many people use, it becomes a problem when others then assume that a person is handling change well, or coping with a transition. Other people don’t see the meltdown or the symptoms of anxiety. It’s what we often call the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ effect – seemingly dual personalities or a case of ‘two faces’ (one masking the turmoil that is going on inside).
Unfortunately these assumptions of ‘coping well’ can lead to a sense of being misunderstood (particularly for parents who feel that when they advocate for their child’s struggles that they are unheard) or a reduction in supports for a person who is going through change or learning to adapt to a transition (because it is assumed that supports aren’t needed).
So what do we need to take from this? In essence, it’s that we should never assume that because we don’t see the stress or anxiety that is happening because of change that it’s not happening. It’s the acknowledgement that symptoms of anxiety or stress that is brought on by change may possibly be being played out behind the scenes. And it’s understanding that it’s important to listen to what might be happening behind closed doors that we don’t see ourselves.
A report of ‘not coping’ when everything appears to be going well should never be taken as though fault is being laid on the person who is at the face of change – it’s simply something that we should hear and then work towards assisting with.
Always assume that we support change and always work towards keeping the lines of communication open with all those involved in the person’s life. It’s good for everyone!