Coping with change: walking old paths, walking new paths

Choose your path wisely, for some take you home, and others far away.  Photo by Stephanie Bergeron on Unsplash

When life throws us new circumstances, we have choices.  We can try to fight the changes, and recreate our old life.  Or we can go with the changes, and try to make something new out of the new materials.  What we choose to do will be the result of our analysis of the situation.


There is some value in the maintenance of old systems.  It means that, when life throws us a new or difficult situation, we know where we are, because we have a home system.  Examples of home systems include:

  • The usual way in which we arrange or store our possessions
  • The usual way in which we communicate with others
  • The usual way in which we timetable our day

Sometimes it is enough to adapt our old systems to new situations. Examples of this are:

  • A government flexing existing aid systems in an emergency, because there is no time to change structures completely
  • Flexing family routines on the arrival of baby number two, three or four
  • An athlete adjusting their habitual routines for an upcoming competition

There is also value in taking on, suddenly and wholesale, new ways of being.  This is particularly useful when the old ways would plainly lead us into dificult waters.  Examples of the adopting of new systems in adversity include:

  • Accepting a change in family routines on the arrival of a new baby
  • Accepting the traditional style of a new role: for example, taking on a soldier’s life when joining an army
  • Adopting the usual routine of our caring environment when we are recovering from illness

Sometimes all of the above is not enough, and we need to make something new, something no one has ever done before.  In case you think this is unusual… in fact, we create new sentences every day, sentences no one has ever spoken before.  In terms of words, we are natural creators.  Examples of creating new systems include:

  • A society recovering after a disaster, putting entirely new structures in place
  • An innovative company having an idea for a completely new way of solving a problem
  • A very unique person working out an entirely different way of life for themselves (the eccentric)

Wherever you find yourself now, you have some choices in all areas of your life.  You can choose:

  1. CONSERVATION – Which traditional habits you are going to keep at all costs
  2. ADAPTATION – Which habits you are going to flex and adapt
  3. ADOPTION – Which new habits, new or unfamiliar to you, you are going to adopt
  4. CREATION – What you intend to create that is brand new and special
In practice, all people and societies are constantly engaged in all four activities.  It is important to be wise in choosing where to be protective, where to be adaptive, where to adopt new ways, and where to be creative.  No one can teach you this wisdom except yourself.  Only you know your own situation well enough.