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Change is constant – learning how to adapt is the key

Lighthouse Counseling & Family Resource Center column
By: Angela Ponivas, Special to The News Messenger
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Today, the world as we have known it is changing at a rapid pace. Counseling has become a necessity for children and adults alike. The issues vary, but in most cases, everyone is just trying to cope with rapid change. I recently read a book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. It’s a quick read but makes some really good points that I’d like to highlight. The story is a parable about dealing with change. “Cheese” is a metaphor for what you want in life – whether it is a good job, a loving relationship, money, a possession, health or spiritual peace of mind. In the story, the characters are faced with unexpected change as their “cheese is moved.” By the end of the story, the characters realize the following: Change happens – The cheese keeps moving. Anticipate change – Get ready for the cheese to move. Monitor change – Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old. Adapt to change quickly – The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese. Change – Move with the cheese. Enjoy change – Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese! I think that we can all agree that change happens. And though change is a constant, we often times choose to ignore change or deny change is happening. Part of why we do this is because we are afraid of what’s on the other side of change. One of the parts I like in the book is that, at the end, a group sits around discussing the parable, bringing it home to their own lives and identifying themselves with the different characters. One person shares that they are having marital problems and the group identifies that the change needed is not necessarily divorce. The change is the need to stop old behaviors and attitudes and to take on new behaviors and attitudes that will strengthen the marriage. Another person in the group asks the question, “Who is afraid of change?” and only one person raises his hand. The person asking the question states, “At least we have one honest person.” Then she asked, “Who thinks others are afraid of change?” and everyone raised their hands. It’s not always comfortable admitting we feel fear but all of us do at one point or another. Perhaps we don’t identify it as fear initially, but when we get really honest, fear is often at the root of emotional and relational issues and fear can be the cause of many failures and missed adventures. In business school, they used to say, “No risk. No return.” There is no shame in feeling fearful and no shame in needing to identify better ways of coping with change. In 2010, Lighthouse counseled 569 residents who were brave enough to be honest about their emotions. We focused our energies on providing them with coping skills and communication skills as anxiety, isolation and depression are akin to fear. Ultimately, we want to see clients accept change, adapt to it and enjoy the adventure of life. An adventure is unpredictable, exciting and scary. It tests our human spirit but the victory comes when we face the change, learn from it and grow stronger as a result of it. If you need help coping with changes in your life, Lighthouse staff is here to help you. Our services are offered completely free of charge to residents of the community so please take advantage of this resource that is in your neighborhood. Having someone support you through change helps to build confidence and character that will encourage you toward victory. Angela Ponivas is the Lighthouse Counseling & Family Resource Center’s executive director. Her phone is 645-3300  and website is lighthousefrc.com.