Posted by: GeekHiker | June 16, 2011

Another Philosophical Question

Last time, here at The GeekHiker Institute of Profound Philosophy Realized (The GIPPR), we discussed the various approaches people took to making difficult decisions.  Wonderfully, opinions ranged across the board, which was completely fascinating (and very, very cool).  If nothing else, it reflects the diversity and intelligence of the regular readers of this little blog.

No, don’t worry.  I’m not brownnosing you for money.

Well, not yet, anyway. 😉

I am, however, going to throw out another philosophical question to the peanut gallery.

It’s a question about change.

Specifically, how do you deal with change?

I’m not thinking in terms of the type of change, though.  One thing I think that we can all agree on is that whether a change is good or bad, there’s a high level of stress involved.  Whether it’s a death in the family or getting married or having a house foreclosed on or having a kid or winning the lotto (which is both good and bad and, no, I haven’t), change invariably comes with a lot of stress attached.

That’s what I’m primarily interested in: how do you deal with the stress that comes with change?

When big things are happening, or changes are on the horizon, how do you not become overwhelmed?  How do you not succumb to it all, become sad or depressed?  If it’s a bad change, how do you pull yourself through it?  And if it’s a good change, how do you not drown in the stress involved while the changes are happening?

Do you make lists?

Lean on friends and family?

Get counseling?

Turn to the internet?

Go shopping until you break the bank?

Drink yourself into a stupor?

Organize like crazy?

Put up a big white-board, break down everything involved into tasks, and deal with it in small chunks?

Just curl up in a ball in the corner and sob uncontrollably?

So, there you go kids.  Another philosophical question from The GIPPR.  I look forward to seeing what you all have to say!



  1. I just let the stress build up until I feel the need to do something. I’m not someone who worries that much. 🙂

    No, honestly I make plans but they never get old enough to be put in application. In case of need, I ask my family and close friends, search for info and then make a decision. Most of what I do is “on impulse” apart from a few specific goals that remain in my mind. But even these aren’t set in stone. Eventually I will reach them and I don’t care about the rest until the appropriate time comes. Stress used to be a problem, but since a particular event, its effect on me has been diminished drastically. Sure, it can a nuisance but this nuisance can be overcome.

    People who organise everything just baffle me. Changes, either good or bad, bring novelty and that is all that matters. You need this in your life and if it means dealing with stress, so be it.

    • Well, I’m a worrier by nature. LOL I don’t know that I’m an organizer, though; in fact, I sometimes wish I could organize more. Not sure though: at the end, are you arguing that stress is a good thing?

      • Sure, depending on the kind of person you are. I would rather have a life riddled with mountain tops and crevices (well, with much higher tops at least, lol), than a complete plain . Stress is part of the equation, indissociable from the rest.

  2. Mmmm. I’m an externalizer. I talk about everything until I’ve fully accepted it and moved on. Therapy definitely helps too. I used to numb myself with alcohol, but I’ve learned that doesn’t do much. It’s cool when I wanna have fun, when it comes to grasping life’s realities, alcohol usually just makes it worse.

    • I’m the exact opposite! I internalize everything. Can’t help it. Don’t often tell friends about plans until I’ve figured them out in their entirety. You’re right, alcohol isn’t a solution. But the occasional beer does take the edge off sometimes. 🙂

  3. In the past, I’ve responded to change with almost unbearable stress and anxiety, even when it’s good change. The combination of ending a relationship, moving to a new province, and starting med school all in one short month was enough to throw me into a clinical depression. Fortunately, with a bit more maturity (and self preservation instinct), I’ve learned to go easy on myself during change and to just focus on the essentials. I also remind myself on a regular basis that the process of change is temporary and that I will eventually return to a state of constancy (albeit a temporary one).

    • Welcome to the blog! I can be extremely hard on myself; it’s one of my traits. If you know the solution to that, please share!

      • Can’t say I’ve solved that particular dilemma yet! I’ll let you know if I figure it out.

        • If you do, don’t just let me know. Write a book, make a fortune, and retire early!

  4. Um… Yeah, the curling up in a corner one. Or sometimes I like to get original, and curl up around a fluffy pillow. Currently I’m under a fluffy blanket watching Disney movies. Not because anything has changed… But this is kind of my ‘i’m overwhelmed and i need to do some non-thinking’ activity. (It’s actually honestly really good for processing. Do something brainless and easy for a bit.)

    • Hm. I actually rather like that suggestion. Now if I could just find the time!

  5. Once you accept the impermanence of this life, change becomes an insignificant part of your life. I know that may sound trite, but I’m completely serious. This doesn’t mean you abdicate control to the universe or anything. It’s really just about recognizing that change is a constant that you cannot control.

    I think when most people say they don’t deal well with change, it’s because they’re trying to control whether the change happens or not…not actually adjusting to accomodate the change. Accepting impermanence allows you to focus on how you deal with change, rather than fighting it or trying to keep it from happening.

    • It’s funny. I can accept intellectually that change is a part of life, but can’t quite seem to do so emotionally. If I could, I think I would worry far less. It’s not so much fighting the change, though, as much as simply trying to maneuver the best path through it, and the fear of not doing that correctly…

      • I have a strategy to overcome such fears. I think…what’s the WORST that can happen if this decision is wrong? The answer is always the same…my life falls apart and I die. Well, guess what…if I’m dead, I really won’t give a $hit, so no sense in worrying about it. It’s seriously worked for me. I used to be a major worrier about EVERYTHING. Worry is barely in my vocabulary anymore…it’s a really amazing feeling.

  6. I love change….said the girl who’s 7 year old daughter has lived in 7 different houses. I organize my way through it, keep track of stuff, helps keep my head on. And then I just roll with it.

    • Then you are lucky, my friend!

  7. Hi Geekhiker…. I’m not even sure how I ended up here at your blog, but since I’m a geekette hiker it was bound to happen I suppose. Plus I’m in the process of trying to “pull myself through” today and consciously using the varied tactics I’ve managed to scrounge up to do so, while simultaneously analyzing the core of the feelings, behaviors and situations that have brought me to this place (repeatedly). There’s always this thought that I will have an epiphany that will not only fix me for all time, but also, once shared with the universe, will be “the answer” that so many people seek. In addition, I’m writing this response in a quick and loose stream of consciousness way, and as a guest, so that I get it all out before my self-conscious conservative self stops me. 🙂

    … still awaiting epiphany, but here are my tactics (some of which you mentioned already)
    1 – tell myself that I’ll feel better soon – ride it out
    2 – play on the net (fb, gchat, google stuff I like)
    3 – talk to friends
    4 – exercise
    5 – hike
    6 – plan the amazing things I’m going to do
    7 – deny that I feel bad as part of the riding it out
    8 – write
    9 – read
    10 – cry a little and pray to my agnostic based self created god


    • Geekette Hiker! I love it! You should start a blog!

      I think all of your suggestions are awesome (except 10, as you know us manly-men never cry 😉 ). Of the ten, which one helps you the most?

      • I can only narrow it down to 3 – exercising, hiking and talking to friends. The trifecta of self-help! 🙂

        • Well, those three are certainly good. I think posting here, for me at least, definitely fits in the “friends” category.

          Be sure to let me know if you start a blog. I’ll stop by. 🙂

  8. I could write a freaking novel on this subject with all the change I’ve been through in the last year.

    Here’s the thing: I don’t think change is ever easy. For anyone. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s what makes us grow.

    I’ve been in my new house and new city for 7 months now and I’m STILL adjusting to it. I think that finding the positives and trying to exploit them helps. There are going to be crappy things to deal with after any change. But there will also be good things. Try to focus on those. The only thing I really think ever makes it all better is time.

    Man I could go on about this for hours. Your questions above about what I/we do to combat the depression and uncomfortableness of change – I’ve done ALL of them. And sometimes in a span of a week! Honestly after a big change, I think you just have to totally nurture yourself and try every avenue necessary to get through the stress. Whatever makes you feel better, do it. Because like I said, the only real combatant to the stress is time. Getting used to things. And for big changes – like jobs, living situations, relationship status – I think it takes at least a year.

    So that’s my advice – do it ALL. And go into it knowing you’re going to hit hard times. False expectations of bliss can come back to bite you.

    • So get to work on the novel, already! 😉

      It’s true, you have gone through a lot of changes in the last year. From what I can tell (and, really, I can only go off your blog), all of the changes had relatively few downsides. I mean, finding and marrying the perfect guy is stressful, to be sure, but since he is “Mr. Wonderful”, there’s not much downside to that, it would seem.

      And I think you know me well enough to know how little I have “expectations of bliss!” 🙂

  9. How do I deal with change?

    I’ve been through personal deaths, of friends, of family. I’ve moved several times.

    It depends on what’s going on. With death, I try to look for the positive. I try to think logically about it.

    There’s no use being negative, thinking negatively will end up with negative results. Might as well think positive and move forward.

    I talk to friends A LOT. My friends know everything about me. Maybe I talk too much, but I think a lot, and I like to throw things by a lot of friends and get various opinions. Sometimes, that can be detrimental. Make sure you know what kind of answer will help you. Because not everyone’s opinions will help. Remember to take in account their point of view.

    I’ve been through a lot, but somehow I am still here, still trying to be positive.

    • I should probably consult with my friends more than I do. I agree that not everyone has the right answer, but I’m not sure that that invalidates the answers that others might bring to the table. Still, given my proclivity to worry, maybe you’re right that I should pick-and-choose more…

  10. Hi GH! I looove change for the most part. I actually kind of crave it and have been known to do all sorts of things to shake things up in my life. (I’ve had 5 careers so far, earned 6 degrees and lived in 7 different cities.) I’ve actually had to learn coping strategies to create *less* drastic changes in my life (i.e., my current career necessitates staying in one spot, so I’ve increased the amount of time I travel each year). When bad change happens, I take a day or two to wallow and then, that’s pretty much it. I dust myself off and move on or , if need be, I brainstorm solutions/new avenues to deal with it. I’ve experienced so many change by now that I feel secure in the fact that I know, eventually, something good always comes out of change. There’s always a part of me that looks forward to that moment.

    • MJ! Well, I’m certainly not as positive as you about the outcome of change. I don’t think that’s because changes in my life have been bad, though. Maybe it’s just that I haven’t experienced enough of them, I’m not sure. I think my bigger problem with change is my nature to see all possible outcomes… then worry about the bad ones.


    I’m slipping…

    I think about it for a while, until I’ve almost made up my mind. Then I check in with family and close friends on the idea and brainstorm the positives and negatives with them in case they think of something I didn’t. Then I make a tentative decision, sleep on it, and go with the choice I decided.

    After I made my decision, that’s usually when I list my action plan and then blog about my decision. 🙂

    • My problem is, even after I’ve made a decision, or even after the change has occurred, I STILL worry about the bad outcomes!

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