Change is never comfortable whether it is positive or negative. Change can happen by chance, by choice, by crisis or calamity. COVID-19 is all about disruption and change. It can be seen either as a punishment or as a catalyst for change and a doorway to new possibilities. Working with disruption to learn and grow is very different to kicking against disruption and getting stuck in a deep, dark hole void of possibilities and opportunities.

Working with disruption requires courage, open-mindedness, and the desire to see windows and doors that will appear if looking through the right lens. If you think the whole world is against you, it will be difficult to see the positives. Attitude is key. The only form of control we really have in life is the attitude we choose in any given moment regardless of the circumstance we are facing. Disruption and change can happen to us via external forces or we can purposefully choose to disrupt ourselves internally.

External disruption

COVID-19 is a perfect example of external disruption. It happened to us without our permission. We didn’t ask for it. We didn’t choose it. It has impacted us in so many different ways; changing the way we run our lives and how we feel, right down to the most minute details:

  • Where we work
  • Whether our kids go to school
  • Whether we can worship
  • How we bid farewell to loved ones we have lost
  • How we touch each other as colleagues, friends and family
  • Freedom of movement/travel
  • Wearing masks
  • Overwhelming underlying fear, whether it is real or unfounded
  • A media onslaught of enormous negativity
  • Whether we can get hold of necessary legal documents

It is easy to fall prey and feel like victims when life throws us an unexpected curveball. We can be buried by situations if we choose. Think about:

  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Accidents
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Loss of a business
  • Loss of one’s health
  • Loss of one’s wealth

These are also forms of disruption, some external that cannot be anticipated, and others by choice. They break our picture of how life has been or what we think and believe life should be like.

Internal disruption

Now let’s look at internal disruption by choice. Change is an opportunity for growth and sometimes we choose to shift in order to grow. Some examples would be:

  • Getting married
  • Having a baby
  • Changing jobs
  • Moving town or country
  • Moving schools
  • Upgrading our qualifications
  • Moving house
  • Getting divorced
  • Starting a new exercise regime (and doing it properly)

All of the above can make us feel some of these negative emotions which are absolutely normal:

  • Unsettled
  • Fearful
  • Out of control
  • Depressed
  • Overwhelmed
  • Shocked
  • Isolated or alone
  • Nervous
  • Vulnerable
  • Unable to concentrate

Keeping perspective in disruption is essential

If we are unable to keep perspective in disruptive times, we run the risk of getting stuck in the negative emotions and feeling completely overwhelmed or buried by them. Instead, if we are able to hold on to perspective then we empower ourselves and are able to keep our fears in proportion.

Being curious about the adventure in progress is extremely important. Being open to surprises, new ways of doing things, of being and showing up in the world is the fuel that helps us to get through the tough times of transition. We have to work through the seven stages of adjustment whether we are going through positive or negative change, whether we have been externally or internally disrupted. Acknowledging that these stages are totally normal is key to getting to the other side of the emotional roller coaster that comes with all change.

The seven stages of adjustment or transition:

  • Immobilisation
  • Minimisation
  • Depression
  • Acceptance
  • Testing
  • Search for meaning
  • Internalisation

Read more about these stages here.

Or listen to a podcast here.

Collateral damage versus collateral beauty

To help you keep perspective in any change, make sure you do my Collateral Damage vs Collateral Beauty exercise. It will take just a few minutes to identify all the positive aspects of a change be it by choice or not. Once you have that clear, you can keep your fears in perspective and not let them overtake you. When we get drowned by our own fear we land up in fight, flight, or freeze which is not useful to anyone – our family, friends, or colleagues, and particularly not to ourselves.

Make sure you don’t isolate yourself at times of change. Invite people to be part of your journey from time to time, but also remember that you need to allow for time and space alone to process the change and to let it land.

Growing and learning from disruption

If you are able to embrace disruption, you will see that the following can occur:

  • Breaking free of old relationships
  • Finding new launchpads
  • Creating new relationships
  • Breaking old habits
  • Creating new habits
  • Breaking co-dependencies
  • Finding new hobbies
  • Creating new adventures
  • Visiting new places
  • Driving new roads
  • Shifting head and heart
  • Creating space for new things to happen
  • Being open to new opportunities
  • Shifting old stuck energy
  • Releasing our past
  • Creating a new future

Are you treading water in your life right now? Are you done where you are? What is it that needs to change? Do you need to do a little (or a lot) of intentional internal disruption to change the trajectory or outcome of your life? These are questions we need to ask ourselves from time to time to avoid getting so stuck in a comfort zone that we stop growing and learning.

Love it or hate it, change and disruption are pathways to personal and professional growth. It all depends on how you view the world.

Much love,
Nikki Bush
Human Potential and Parenting Expert helping you to win at work and life

Enjoy the podcast of the Azania Mosaka Show on 702, where we discussed this topic of disruption.