How to Survive Change You Didn't Ask For: Bounce Back, Find Calm in Chaos, and Reinvent Yourself by M. J. Ryan

, 18 Aug 2018

I have read a few books on crisis and change in the last couple of years and this is, despite the modest ratings and small number of reviews on Amazon, the most helpful of them all in you are in the middle of a life and/or career crisis.

Above all, this is a book on how to change your mindset, the one that freezes, depresses and angers you and prevents you from seeing things clearly, from being fully rational, and getting into action. The book offers a set of tools, techniques, attitudes and behaviours to avoid or minimise the fight, flight, or freeze response to increase your ability to adapt and move on. There is also a quest for meaning, to see the silver lining in your crisis, to see it as the step before to something better, to accept change with grace and resilience still being true to who you are. The process of change, as discussed in the book is shown in the figure below: 

> I expect a book on how to overcome crisis to be written by people who have been there and succeeded. However, most of the books out there have never truly experienced it; it is all abstract studies on patterns of behaviour seen on business people and so they re elitist and unrelatable for anybody who is not in those privileged circumstances, which is most o us. On the contrary this books' author has personally gone through hell several times and came out victorious, so I can relate to anything she says and any the advice she gives.

> Ryan's talk is helpful because it makes you feel understood and even cared for. She describes quite precisely what is going on in your life and in your mind even though she doesn't know you or your specific circumstances.

> One of the things that unwanted change brings up is a perennial state of anxiety, fear, shame and despair, a state of mind that is really damaging because it is not rational, it brings up all the personal complexes and fears that we have ever experienced and freeze us on the spot. Learning to understand why that happens and how to stop it, is priceless.

> The book is clearly written and very well structured. As the author herself states, it is based, on her own experience and pragmatism, and on a a vast number of books on brain science, organisational and positive psychology, and spirituality.

>  There is a bit of positive wishful thinking but you didn't get this book to get depress, right?

> All the figures in the book are very simple but extremely clear  to understand Ryan's points.
> The list Top Ten Change Sinkholes.
>  The Seven Truths about Change:
# Change is the one thing you can count on.
# It's not personal.
# Your thinking is not always your friend.
# Change isn't the enemy, fear is.
# There is a predictable emotional cycle of change.
# Your are more resilient than you may think.
# Your future is built on a bedrock that is unchanging.
> The actions of a change master: 1/ Accept change. 2/ Expand your options. 3/ and take action.
> The twenty quick tips for surviving the change you didn't ask at the end of the book.

> There are too many examples of real-life cases.

> There are way too many quotes in the book.

> Some times the main point of three pages is just a repetition of what the title of the section has, so what follows is a bit repetitive and redundant.

> I found Ryan's comments on networking the weakest part of the book. Firstly, introverts' ways of relating aren't even considered. Secondly, she ignores the fact that sometimes your network (personal or professional)  might not have any expertise on how the job market is nowadays. They could be vomiting onto you old adages that aren't helpful at all ('when a door closes another opens', 'you'll find something' or my favourite 'take care'). Your network might not be able to give you financial help even if they wanted, or you could have no family or friends in your country of residence, or they might be too old or sick to attend to you and your crisis. The variables are infinite.  Besides,  Ryan herself says at the beginning of the book that one of the characteristics of modern life is the speed of change, and how different the job market is from the past, meaning 10-20 years ago (not last century) so you should not be asking your current network for any advice, perhaps just for hugs and kisses. Ryan says that it is best to cultivate a varied peer network when you aren't in a crisis, but that is a bit unrealistic and manipulative. Most people, when things are going on OK, won't think  "I need to diversify my group of friends just in case I get into trouble in life and I need to use them" do you see what I am saying? That has put me off in the past, and I guess many genuine people would also be put off for that sort of 'build a network' that is useful to me.

> Ryan asks you, “What's the worst thing that could happen?” Much of the time they realise it's not that big of a deal". I'm all for not being too negative, but hey, really, there are so many examples of normal people who end living in poverty or in the streets nowadays that we cannot ignore it. Normal people who, like you and me, had houses, business, great jobs and families, and would have never thought that the street would be their home.  People who lost their jobs and were renting and cannot rent any more so they sleep on a park. There was item of news on this on the news the other day. Normal people.

> One of the exercises is 'Ask you future self for help", really...?  You are confused, I am confused, we are confused and lost, remember? Ring ring to the future. No answer, sorry. 

The links to her coaching website are generic, so the specific tools she recommends are no longer accessible at the front page.

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