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Change Truth #1: Change is a stressor … And there’s good news, too (Part 1 of Five Truths I Tell My

I’m all about practical change management – with an emphasis on practical. So when individuals, families, and business decision-makers come to me for help navigating a personal, professional, or organizational change, I get them started with information they can apply right away: I introduce them to five fundamental truths about change. Experience proves that when people understand and acknowledge these five change truths, they’re better equipped to cross the threshold into change, move through the change process, and emerge into a positive and stable new normal that feels right and works to their best advantage.

Here’s Number 1 of my Five Truths About Change.

1. Change is a stressor … And there’s good news, too

By definition, change is a disruption in the status quo. As a rule, we human beings are most comfortable in stable situations, so any interruption in our ‘normal’ – the status quo we expect and accept – will produce some degree of mental and/or emotional tension. That tension is stress.

Here are two interesting facts about change-driven stress. First, the magnitude of both change and stress is entirely defined by the person or entity that experiences them. What may be a momentous and stress-ridden change for one person or organization may be just a ripple on the water for another. (The ripple folks typically don’t need my help.)

And second, despite the bad rap it gets, stress isn’t always bad. Sometimes, the stress that comes from change is positive and motivating. In that case, it’s called eustress (or ‘good stress’). But often, change-driven stress is negative and results in a threat to a person’s or organization’s well-being. When that happens, it’s called distress (or ‘bad stress’).

Now here’s the good news I promised you. There’s a practical way to reduce the level of negative change-driven distress. The fact is, change is far less stressful when you know how to think about it, when you know what to expect as you move through it, and especially when you take control and manage it instead of the other way around.

That’s what practical change management is all about.

Read my next blog for Change Truth #2: Change is decision … And that’s good for you.


What are your thoughts and experiences around change and stress? The Barbara Dershowitz Community of Change wants to know. Share your message below.

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