Hi there,

What’s the Story?

Last week, I had a great chance to work for the first time in Copenhagen at a fun event. Now I’m back in New York and smack bang in the middle of a busy month.

I did break my arm last week AGAIN while running BUT it’s a small break and I’m already in rehab so I’ll be back to my best in a matter of weeks.

Yesterday’s Changing Minds podcast episode, dives deeper into today’s topic: Handling Change.

Next Monday, oh do I have a good one for you…. It’s the return of the most prolific guest ever on the Changing Minds Podcast… and for the first time, it’s on video. I’m interviewing the legend… DR. RICHARD BANDLER.



How to Deal with Change

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes 3 seconds

Alan Watts once beautifully said:

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

The challenge is that plunging in, moving with, and joining the dance requires several different skill sets.

Change, a constant in our lives, often catches us off guard, challenging our expectations and pushing us outside our comfort zones. Even when we know it’s coming, we struggle with change. And yet, our ability to manage change is one of the most critical skills that we can learn to survive and thrive in today’s world.

To get to grips with this phenomenon, I want to look into the challenges of change, explore its neurological and psychological impacts, and most importantly, uncover time-tested, evidence-based strategies for navigating life’s inevitable shifts.

The Five Steps of Embracing Change

When consulting on change management, I often emphasize five key areas for a smooth transition:

  • Handling Change

Starting with mindset adjustments, this step involves quieting the internal chaos and fear that comes with change.

  • Navigating Change

This is about identifying the new direction that we need to go in and making strategic moves toward it.

  • Creating Change

This step is actively shaping the change to fit your needs, building new habits, and adapting to the “new normal.” It’s also about doing this for others.

  • Driving Change

In leadership roles, this is about motivating and guiding others through the transition.

  • Leading Change

The final step is about inspiring others to accept and embrace change, joining the dance with enthusiasm and confidence.

These five stages are all important for leadership to work through to ensure that the change process succeeds.

Handling Change

The first of these is what we will focus on here. This also happens to be something that is relevant to everyone experiencing any form of change. This is about what you do with what is happening to you. Handling change isn’t easy.

Why Change Sucks

Change can be really hard to handle for two main reasons. Both can be understood by learning a bit more about how our brain works.

1. Change requires energy

The brain works based on the principle of efficiency. It does whatever it can to conserve calories. The brain typically consumes 20-25% of the calories that we take in despite only representing 2-4% of our body mass. As such, it tries to optimize the way it functions. It creates shortcuts and uses what Nobel Prize winner the late, great Danny Kahneman (and author of the book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’) calls a System One way of thinking.

Kahneman suggested that there are two systems we use to think. System one is an automated way of thinking where we use learned generalizations and heuristics to jump to conclusions as opposed to spending cognitive energy trying to work everything out. Most of the time this works fine. We know, for instance, that 2X2 equals 4 because our brains have this easily accessible. We don’t need to put in any effort at all.

System Two, on the other hand, works based on the idea that we need to figure things out. If you try to work out a complicated math equation or solve a complex problem, your brain needs to use its energy. While system one is automatic, system two is deliberate and effortful.

When things are going as we expect them to, we can get by with system one. When things change, we are forced to activate system two and our brains don’t like that. We resist change because it requires a lot more energy.

2. Change is scary

The second reason why the brain doesn’t like change is because our brains are prediction machines. Their job is to keep us alive by predicting what is going to happen next. When we encounter uncertainty, this is very stressful as we realize our predictions are very possibly wrong. By its very nature, change creates instant uncertainty.

We live in a world where our brains are constantly making stories for us to model the world around us. Change requires that we update these stories and change brings with it unforeseen challenges ahead.

From an evolutionary perspective, we are wired to be ready for the future, and when our brain’s prediction skills fail us, we react physically.

Chemicals like cortisol and noradrenaline are often triggered as a result of change. This causes us to be alert and when we experience constant change, this means we are continuously alert. This isn’t very good for us.

When you’re alert, your brain is so focused on the potential threat that other necessary functions that it’s involved in get put off to another time when we are no longer in danger. In a nutshell, change makes us feel stressed.

Handling Change Psychologically

Handling change effectively means changing the way we think about ‘CHANGING’. It means no longer interpreting it as something that is a constant threat and building a more flexible way of thinking about it.

This begins with what I call ‘change confidence’.

Change Confidence

At the core of dealing with change is developing “change confidence” – the belief that no matter what comes your way, you have the skills and resilience to handle it. This confidence is rooted in a deep understanding of why change can be so daunting and recognizing the common traps we fall into when faced with it.

Strategies for Change Confidence

When building change confidence, it’s important to focus on awareness and preparation. Understanding the changes you’re facing and separating what you know about them from what you don’t is crucial.

When you know what is coming, you can be ready for it. When you don’t, you need to focus on what you can control, like your skills, relationships, and time.

You must understand the need for change, whether in your personal life or within an organization.

  • How does it align with your goals?
  • How urgent is it?
  • What does it require of you?

It’s also important to prepare for resistance, both internal and external.

External Resistance

There will be some external forces that make adapting to the new way of life harder. We have new rules to learn in a new way of living or working.

  • How are the people around you coping with change?
  • Are they still trying to hang onto the way things were?
  • How can you bring them with you?
  • What are the new skills you need to master to handle the new way of life?

Internal Resistance

There will also be internal forces like fear and the desire to stay within your comfort zone fueled by the neurological factors we discussed earlier.

Change confidence means recognizing that your comfort zone has constantly changed and the only way we can get better and improve is by expanding this comfort zone by making the uncomfortable, comfortable.

Preparing for these factors and dealing with them is critical. This empowers you to cultivate change confidence.

The Growth Mindset

One other thing that would be very helpful to do is to build a growth mindset. This relates, of course, to the work of Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University known as ‘fixed’ and ‘growth’ mindsets.

Professor Dweck found that some people tend to perceive intelligence and ability as something fixed and unchangeable. Others perceive it as something that can be worked on and improved (growth). Those with a growth mindset were much more likely to succeed.

From our perspective, adapting this to handling change, having a growth mindset means that you embrace challenges and adapt in whatever way you need to grow.

Perceiving uncertainty as a necessary challenge that helps you to grow is extremely useful. This mindset encourages you to constantly strive to improve, take feedback better, and take on challenges that help you improve even more.

When most people think of change, they hate the idea of it. When most people think of growth, they love the idea of it. And yet, growth is change. Determining whether or not change will become growth is entirely up to you.

When you recognize that change is both a challenge and an opportunity, it gives you the chance to grow and learn in response to it.

Combining the growth mindset and change confidence means that you put yourself in a position to roll with whatever comes your way. You know that you can deal with uncertainty and adapt accordingly. You also know that doing so will continue to help you get better.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Perhaps the best way to become better at handling change is to ask better questions. Here are some powerful questions that can revolutionize the way you think about change.


  • What are the changes you are facing?
  • What do you know about them?
  • What don’t you know about them?
  • What is within your control or under your influence?
  • Why is this change necessary, now?
  • How does it impact you and your goals?
  • What does it require of you?
  • What internal challenges may make this difficult for you?
  • What external challenges may make this difficult for you?
  • What can you do about both?


  • What can you learn from this experience of change?
  • How can this change make you stronger, smarter, or better?
  • How can the process of changing itself make you stronger, smarter, and better?
  • How can you continue to get better at handling change?

Practice asking yourself and answering these questions and you’ll cultivate change confidence and a growth mindset.

The World Needs Change Masters

In a world as volatile and uncertain as ours, mastering change is not just a personal achievement but a global necessity.

From navigating the aftermath of a pandemic to adapting to technological advancements and societal shifts, our ability to embrace change can lead to a far better society.

Believing better and embracing change not only enhances your life but can also make the world a better place.

As Alan Watts suggests, keep dancing through life’s changes, and may you always find the rhythm in the midst of transformation.

To check out the podcast episode where I dive deeper into this, go here.



The Brain Prompt

This week we have a quote that fits with the message today:

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.

William Faulkner

I love this quote because it really speaks to the need to throw yourself into the challenge and not look back. Sometimes what holds us back is the desire to retreat from what challenges us. Pushing past that is the secret to success.

​If you know someone who would enjoy this newsletter, please forward it on. They can sign up at owenfitzpatrick.com/newsletter.



P.S. To check out this topic in more detail, go to this week’s Changing Minds podcast episode. You can watch it here.





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