The stages of grief and the stages of accepting major changes or difficulties in life are almost exactly the same. If you’re aware of this and able to remain mindful about the process while also mindfully leading your team, you will be much more equipped to handle anything and everything that comes up without people having meltdowns or ceasing to function. This is applicable to families and households as well as the workplace, so if you’re facing anything at all that could be considered a major life change or crisis, knowing the stages of grief will help you to better work with everyone around you during their stages of grief.
It isn’t easy to be a leader in general, but it becomes even more challenging when you’re faced with obstacles that life throws in your way. Things such as injuries, car accidents, and sudden severe illness can throw people onto what looks like a strange emotional rollercoaster, but if you know what to expect, the whole circumstance can be much easier. Let’s explore the five stages of acceptance in more depth so that you and your team are prepared no matter what life throws your way.
The 5 Stages of Acceptance
1. The first stage begins with shock. You may receive some sudden news that will mean major changes and life-altering events, and your first instinct is to be in disbelief or denial about it. This stage feels like numbness mixing with anxiety, and your productivity probably won’t suffer too much here, but you should be prepared for challenging times ahead as you work through your acceptance process.
2. The second stage is anger, which is unavoidable but can be very damaging if it isn’t handled properly. This is where habitual mindfulness practice shines; your anger won’t be as in-your-face or overwhelming if you regularly practice yoga, meditation, or paying attention in the moment. When anger rears its ugly head, you’ll be able to pause and reflect before reacting more often than not.
3. The third stage is bargaining, which feels like a certain type of desperation to make things go back to how they were before. This is change resistance and it’s perfectly normal to feel this way; try not to let it affect your decision-making process, though. If you are aware that you’re in this bargaining phase, it’s probably best to wait it out before any major choices are made, or if you do make decisions here, go back and review them before you implement them. This stage may also be a stage in which justification and analysis take place. Allow it to happen, but take everything you think and feel with a grain of salt.
4. The fourth stage is depression, which feels like numbness and lethargy. You’ll definitely know it when you go through this stage, and it might be a good opportunity to take a step back and regroup, or just do what you can while you pass through this stage. If you can, try to cheer yourself up with music or some other method of motivation so that you don’t lack in progress.
5. The final stage is acceptance, and once you’re here you’ll be much happier, ready to take action, and ready to face whatever the day brings. Acceptance is a stage of finding and being in harmony and flow with life, even if the current is a bit bumpy for a little while. Once you’ve reached this stage, you’ll probably find it easier to look back on your stages of acceptance and recognize them, too.
Although some of the stages of acceptance can be challenging, the more often you go through them, the easier they’ll be to recognize and the faster you can work your way through to acceptance. Sometimes this may mean taking a few days to deep-clean your house to loud music or go for a long hike, but no matter what your acceptance process means for you, know that the way you feel is only temporary and be aware of your behaviors. This should allow you to work your way through the acceptance process without negatively affecting anyone else, not to mention your ability to then teach your team how to handle their stages of acceptance gracefully.
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