How to deal with changed circumstances

When the path our life is taking suddenly looks radically different, it can of course be hard to absorb. People say “I never thought this could happen to me!” or “This is the kind of thing that happens to other people!” We tend to expect and believe that things will continue as they always have, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

This is the basis of normalcy bias – a cognitive bias that leads us to disregard or underestimate threats or disasters.Normalcy bias may lead as many as 70% of us to react with a lack of reaction (if there can be such a thing!) in the face of disaster or threat. We believe, or unconsciously assume, that everything will continue as it normally does just because that’s the way it’s always been. So we don’t react or adjust.When things change radically, some of us may be unable to let go of how things were. So we stop living in the present and we ignore the fluidity and flux of life

When an event doesn’t fall within our range of expectations, it’s almost as though we don’t see it and can’t respond to it. People who refuse to evacuate as a hurricane approaches or as a volcano spews are displaying normalcy bias. People who assume they should be able to do what they normally do (and are ‘pathetic’ if they don’t) when they become sick or depressed are displaying normalcy bias, too.

Even when we feel we can do nothing, we can do something. We can respond in the best way we can. That is doing something, and something vitally important at that. How we face life and deal with events determines and shapes our character.

When we respond to a situation in a certain way, we are building on who we are at a deep level. But this won’t always come naturally, at least not right away. First, we may need to sit with the shock for a while until it starts to lift, leaving us with the courage and stoicism to form that response.

It’s been said that if we don’t master our circumstances, our circumstances will master us.

Quick adjustment to the new normal could perhaps teach us that fast turnarounds do happen in life and, who knows, maybe circumstances will flip back in our favour once more.

No life is free of threats or difficulties. Expecting life to be perfect, easy, and forever without threat, offence, or even minimal discomfort, may seem like a worthy entitlement. But if we 100% believe that we should and will always be comfortable, immune to life’s vicissitudes, then when life inevitably lobs lemons it’s really going to sting.

But one thing is certain for all of us.

This too shall pass!

Reality is in flux. Things change, life flows and alters. All circumstances are impermanent but, like waves in the sea that seem separate, we’re all part of the great ocean, the greater whole of reality.

May you have a strong foundation when the winds of change shift. Because this too – whatever ‘this’ is – shall pass.

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