The journey through change

Judy Ditchfield

This lockdown has been something else. Yes, it is essential, yes, it is critical to curbing this horrible virus, but boy has it thrown up challenges and feelings and confusion in many of our lives. I have found myself on an emotional roller-coaster and on a journey of serious introspection. So many have shared their experiences of anger, frustration, fear, emotion, and simply feeling overwhelmed, as well as feelings of finally letting go and letting be…

So, how do we start dealing with this disruption?

In the 1960’s, Elizabeth Kubler Ross did extensive work with people who had undergone grief and bereavement. She found there was a definite pattern of response to the grief and stress.  She tabulated it into what became known as “The Change Curve” and helped thousands of individuals through very stressful times. The impact of this model was then incorporated into business and used as a tool to explain and manage behavior associated with change.

How are you managing this change?

Well, with half the world’s populations in lockdown, never has change been more relevant. We are all going through major change; be it at home, or most definitely in the workplace. We are calling it the “new world” or “new ways of working” or the “new normal”. And everyone is experiencing it in their own way, in their own time frame.

And boy are we all in the midst of change, that most of us have never experienced in this lifetime.  As it has gone on, I keep on being pulled back to the change curve to help me make sense of it all, without beating myself up about the confusion and emotions I am experiencing. 

My new normal

“The Change Curve” model of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (1960) in business has evolved to incorporate shock, denial, blame, anger, self-blame, confusion, acceptance, development and growth. Without question, we are all experiencing these reactions, in varying degrees, and with different abilities to cope with them. What we need to remember is that experiencing these emotions during times of immense stress, is okay and normal. Be kind to yourself and those around you and be aware that others around you are experiencing them too. 

This will also help you to recognize that the rest of your team might be in a different stage to you and that is also okay. Everyone will manage it in the best way they can. 

Have a look at the second diagram, an adapted version of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ 1960 “The Change Curve” model. It will also help you support your colleagues or even family members at whatever stage they are in, in the most effective way. Remember you can’t force a person to move quicker through a stage.  All you can do is support them through that stage, which will lighten the load for them. 

We will get through this and be more resilient as we do. I hope this helps you a little on your change journey.