Coping with change and an emptier nest.

September 19th, 2014

I have recently been going through a period of significant change with my eldest son, Dan, leaving home to start university. For any one who has already gone through this or who is about to, you will understand how traumatic and emotional this transition is. However much I have been telling myself that this needs to happen, that it is the best thing for Dan, that I am excited and proud that he is embarking on the next stage of his life (and just a teeny bit jealous too) and that I need to let go; it still hurts.

So what is going on?

I am part way through a neuroscience course for coaches with Clive Hyland (Think, Feel, Know) which is both fascinating and thought provoking.  The Thinking part of my brain is where logic sits. So if this were in charge, I would simply accept that what is happening is for the best and there would be no issue. However the feeling part of my brain is getting in the way.  This is where emotions sit.  Neuroscience explains what is happening to me by reference to the emotions that we have all evolved as humans for our preservation. We have five “negative” or survival emotions; fear, anger, shame, disgust and sadness. The more “positive” emotions are trust and excitement.  These are all necessary for humans to survive together in social groups. The relevant one that I am experiencing in this context is sadness. In evolutionary terms sadness allows some time to grieve, to get over a difficult time and then pick ourselves back up and carry on.

For me personally, it does help a bit to understand this. It still hurts, but I know that it has to; that it is a necessary process and that I should accept the emotion I am feeling rather than to try to suppress it or to struggle to understand it. It also helps to accept that it is perfectly normal and healing to cry.

The benefit of neuroscience is that it provides a non-judgemental explanation for our feelings and emotions which can be helpful to understand and acknowledge. Far too often we humans try to suppress the emotions that we experience or feel that we have no control over them as they control us. We also struggle to understand why we are reacting and responding in certain ways and why others behave in the way they do and are “past masters” at jumping to conclusions over intent and motive. In the conflict resolution and coaching work that I do understanding what is going on for ourselves and others is an important part of learning. This can bring positive benefits through such things as helping to identify choices, helping to understand others perspectives and behaviours, understand that we can take charge of our own behaviour and we can adapt to change.

I have not quite adapted yet; the house feels weirdly quiet and tidier.  An empty room seems odd as is cooking for one less and food lasting longer. I miss the daily catch ups and little moments, I even miss the inane television programmes that we were all subjected to ( I have no idea what is now going on in Hollyoaks for example).   I love this version of  JM Fischer’s change curve, whilst I am not sure that I have gone through all of these stages in this change process, I can see myself at the stage of  “gradual acceptance”.


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The report was very professional, it dealt with all the issues raised and was particularly thorough. It clearly took the time to fully understand all of the issues and background. It was complex but the report really helped to break it down and I’m hoping we can progress in a positive manner following the recommendations.

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