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Learn How Adaptation Is a Key to Embracing Change and Growth


I created my H.E.A.R. series because I wanted to share relatable keywords and skills to help people under duress and struggling to manage their mental health during these surreal times. I devoted my first two blogs to Hope and Empowerment. This blog focuses on Adaptation, which is arguably the most important skill we need. We are being tested in every aspect of our daily lives to adapt to the unknown. Each day we, “prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.”

Adaptation is a natural next step in personal growth. Humans are the most adaptable species on earth, which is because of our higher intelligence over all other animals. Given the technology we have, or can build, humans are one of the few species who can live anywhere on earth. Charles Darwin considers adaptability the most important human skill, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change,” he said.

Adaptation also helps us use our emotional intelligence to assimilate additional information and experiences using active listening and observation. By hearing and accommodating extra information, we set ourselves up for success. Jean Piaget, a foremost developmental psychologist, espoused adaptation as one of the critical processes guiding cognitive development. Adaptation occurs through the cognitive processes of assimilation and accommodation.

Alexa Schlau, redbubble

Source: Alexa Schlau, redbubble

Assimilation happens when people mold outside information into their pre-existing schemas or cognitive networks. However, this becomes problematic when we don’t have an available schema to comprehend the idea we’re trying to process.  The pandemic is challenging for us to assimilate because it’s foreign to our pre-existing schemes.

Accommodation occurs when we try to accommodate new data. We may try to create a new schema to place the information. Or we’ll attempt to accommodate the extra information into one of our existing schemas. Both alternatives represent a viable option to manifest adaptation.

There isn’t a guaranteed template everyone can follow to become more adaptable. However, here are five proven techniques which have empowered some of my clients to become more adaptable, and improved their ability to cope effectively with unforeseen changes in their lives:

1) Ask additional questions:

Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and ask questions. Asking questions will probably generate answers, which will require a new set of problem-solving skills. It will force you to adapt. The residual benefit is you will become more confident in your powers of adaptability.

2) Look through a different lens:

Learning to become more adaptive and accommodating extra information requires flexibility to different ways of thinking. It’s important to open your mind, to glean small pieces of information from different perspectives. Use the new data to grow the breadth of your schema. Practice your cognitive flexibility and try to avoid viewing everything through a very black and white lens.

3) Experimentation is learning:

Embrace the opportunity to re-frame your actions as experiments in adaptability. Don’t worry about whether the experiment turns out the way you hoped or not. There is an inherent learning curve; manifest adaptation and you will get an A+ for coping effectively. You have the power to make any action or experiment into a positive experience and therefore, successful.

4) Be comfortable with discomfort:

The more comfortable you are with being out of your comfort zone, the more adaptable you will become. Discomfort breeds the need to identify new schemas that don’t exist in your framework. Broadening your current schemas and developing new ones can increase your speed in problem-solving and enhance your intuitive ability and confidence.

5) Accept change is inevitable:

One of the greatest challenges to achieving adaptability is facing the fact we are living in an unprecedented, unstable, and chaotic time in the world. It is an unfortunate reality we need to integrate into our psyche and schemas. By learning to trust in your ability to problem solve and cope with dramatic changes in your life, the more adaptable you will become. Adaptation is not a quick fix. It takes a concerted commitment and effort over a period.

Fusing Adaptation with Hope and Empowerment will enable you to better manage positive mental health development. Next month, my final will blog in the series, Resilience, will provide you with insight on how to sustain all four components into your daily self-care and well-being.


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