My day job is a Change Manager. I currently am in the process of managing 330+ people through the change of moving from one building to another. Not only are we moving buildings, we’re drastically changing the types of spaces we will work in and how we work with each other. The environment will be more open, a level of management will lose their offices and we are all going to have to learn how to share storage, work benches and photocopiers. I can tell you it’s a tough gig. Not just for me, but for everyone who has settled into the routines of the current building.
We’re used to our desks, the people who are (and aren’t) around us and how many steps it currently takes to get to the photocopier, or to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, or to the toilet. And at some point in 2016 – it’s all going to change. Scary stuff.
While dealing with change in our work life is a little more expected, change in our personal lives can be harder to cope with. When our partner and us have our routines, comfortable and familiar behaviours, and responses upon which we can rely – life is good. But when our partner wants to implement a significant change to all that we know – OH. MY. LORD. What is going on?
Our partner wants to change the food we eat. They want to start watching different shows on TV. They join a new interest group that meets on the night we normally go to the movies. They meet a new friend and expect me to become friends with the new friend’s partner. They want to try sleeping in a bed by themselves.
In the great of debate of ‘nature v nurture’, there is no argument that socialisation has an enormous impact on how we approach, respond and react to so many aspects of our lives. Especially life changes.
Essentially, socialisation is a ‘lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies, providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within his or her own society. Socialisation is thus “the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained” (thank you Wikipedia).
Translated to our everyday – socialisation guides us consciously and subconsciously to make all sorts of decisions about how we interact with everyone – from our nearest and dearest, through to those we like the least. Essentially, from early on, we’re programmed to make all sorts of decisions about our life choices based on how we have been socialised. While we are always free to change our socialised behaviours (not so easy for some) there is no escaping them.
So what to do if your parents always slept in the same bed, and their parents did too, and your aunts and uncles did? AND worse than that, all your friends in relationships (especially marriages) sleep in the same beds and talk in hushed tones about the people who don’t?
What’s a sleep deprived person to do, faced with the never-ending message that couples sleep in the same bed? Well…. my advice is to turn to the sage advice of Bob Dylan.
Little did ‘The Voice of a Generation’ realise that his observation was not only terribly wise, but ageless.
The mere fact that something has ‘always’ been done is a terribly poor excuse to continue doing it. However, given human propensity to grip tightly to the known (well, because we know it) because it’s REALLY HARD TO CHANGE.
The structure of couples is changing. No longer are we shackled to do things the way our parents did. Couples live separately, holiday separately, share living space, and sleep in separate rooms.
Just because something is different, doesn’t make it bad or wrong. And while that is a simplistic statement – it’s often the way people respond to change. It’s sometimes easier to ‘demonise’ the new or the unknown, than to face the challenge of change.
Providing a solution to personally managing and accepting change has filled libraries of books, so I’m not going to attempt any solutions here. The simple fact is though, your partner is likely to change the longer you are with them. We are all faced with situations where we need to think about where our ideas of a successful life or relationship come from.
Are you repeating the patterns of your parents? Are you taking your cues from popular media? Are you making decisions that attract approval from your friendship groups?
Is there a change facing you that’s going to shake your foundations?
And are you ready to accept the challenge?
Timely for me in more ways than one! I am pretty sure I suck at dealing with change. Food for thought, thanks.