from the


from the Top of the Mind


from the
Top of the Mind

“Dr. Crawford’s presentation was the highlight of the conference and a much needed reminder for all of us (especially nurses) to keep it all balanced. Bill’s psychology background surely protruded through his messages and I know it was well-received by all!”

Nancy Perovic, RN, BSN
University Of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, IL

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Dealing with Change

In today’s rapidly changing world, there seems to be a lot of discussion around the challenges of “change,” and certainly there is some validity to this concern. For example, due to the speed in which data is transmitted today, and the ever-shrinking nature of our global community, the pace at which we go about our daily lives is certainly faster. This, of course, makes the process of dealing with the changes brought on by such a fast paced existence more challenging.

I wonder, however, if this (the fact that things change) is the real problem, or whether it has more to do with how we experience the process of change? And if indeed our experience is the defining variable, maybe this can be a place to intervene so that we have more influence over how our experience of change affects our experience of life.

For example, when we are making changes that we have decided are good or necessary, have you noticed how we deal with these situations differently? Whether we are considering something as simple as new software for our computer or as complex as a new partner in our life, when we are choosing to change we seem to respond to the process in a very different way. This isn’t to say that we don’t have any problems. However, if we are participating in the process from a point of choice versus coercion, then we seem to accept the challenges as just part of the process and either ignore or minimize them.

This is very different from how we react to “being” changed, or having change forced upon us, however, and I believe that this is where the real problem lies. For example, have you noticed that when people are being forced to change, their natural reaction is resistance and resentment? There are many reasons for this… (1) They may feel out of control, and this often triggers a fight-or-flight reaction (2) On the job, they may fear that the quality of their work will diminish because of the amount of time it will take to learn how to do things in “this new way,” or even worse, that they may lose their job if they don’t change fast enough. (3) They may not see why the change is necessary and thus feel like those in charge are just acting on a whim and making their life miserable in the process. Whatever the reason, when people are being forced to change, the initial reaction is rarely positive.

Therefore, if we have indeed defined the problem not as change, but how people (including ourselves) react to being changed, what can be done? Well, if you are in charge of bringing change to your organization (or family), you might want to give some thought to involving those effected. Rather than just announcing what is about to change, and expecting them to just “deal with it,” you might allow them to speak to the problem that the change is designed to address. This will often allow them to see the proposed change not as just some new idea thrust upon them as a whim, but something that will be of value to them because it is designed to solve just the sort of problems that they have identified.

You might let them know that you understand that there is a learning curve inherent in any new process and that you aren’t going to be looking over their shoulders just waiting for them to make a mistake. You might let them know that you see them as the experts at what they do and that they are going to be part of the process of evaluating the change (versus being evaluated themselves).

If you are the one who is reacting to “being changed” in a way that has you feeling angry, resentful, frustrated, then you might choose to approach this in a different manner. You might want to ask yourself, “is this reaction really working for me… would I recommend it to someone I love?

If your answer is “No.” then I believe that we must be willing to change how we are dealing with change, meaning that the only way to keep others from having power over us and our reactions is to take on that power ourselves. In other words, if as adults we are choosing to stay and deal with whatever changes are being proposed, then maybe we should also choose how we want to react to the situation, or how we want to define ourselves in the process. On the other hand, if we have determined that the changes that we are being asked to make are unacceptable, then we always have the power to leave. In this way, we will always be the ones changing versus the ones being changed, and from this position of choice and power, we will be in control of how our experience of change affects our experience of life.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill

Dr. Crawford's Info Packet

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