Navigating change the SARAH way

Change is the only constant is an old cliche. Which means we cannot escape change and must become adept at managing it.

One of the models that comes quite handy while navigating through any kind of change is SARAH:

S – Shock

A – Anger

R – Resistance

A – Acceptance

H – Hope/Healing

It represents the stages most of us go through as we adapt to change. Some people zip through the stages while others take a lot more time. The faster we move through these stages, the quicker we adapt to the new norm.

To illustrate this, let us consider the current Corona virus pandemic.


Shock or denial or disbelief is the first response by many. This stage is often very upsetting emotionally. “This cannot be happening to me”, “I don’t believe this” are some of the common sentences you hear people say.

Due to the pandemic, life has changed a lot for people all across the globe. Many are forced to lock themselves indoors leading to a loss of social contact. As you go through this, the first feeling you may have experienced is a sense of disbelief that the restrictive quarantine, the economic crisis etc. are happening at all.


Shock usually moves into anger or anxiety once people realize the implications of the change. This is commonly seen when people grieve for the death of a loved one. And this is what many may feel about the loss of normality due to the corona virus crisis as well.

People are often stuck at this stage blaming themselves or others for the situation being faced. If you do that, you continue to stay stuck here and will not be able to move ahead. It is important to move past this stage quickly.


During this stage, people usually resist or reject the need for change. They may use logic and reasoning to support their case. They may experience sadness and may even temporarily give up hope.

It is important to understand what is within your control and what is not. In order to move forward, it is important to take those small steps that are within your control here and seek any support you need.


Humans are inherently resilient beings. Eventually we come to accept the situation. We embrace the changes, find peace with the new reality and begin to live in it – whether it means getting our kids to attend school online, working from home or settling into the aftermath of a pay cut or a job loss.


A state of hope and optimism is eventually reached. There is a visible shift; a lift in energy levels and motivation. Instead of viewing the change as hard and insurmountable, we begin to think constructively about how to make it work for us. We start thinking about the positives of the pandemic – how we are getting to spend more time with family, how we are more present in the current moment, how the rat race wasn’t leading us anywhere, how we realize the harmful effects of some of our past actions and hopefully vow to not continue them and how we can now focus on self-development.

This is the time to think of things that you wanted to do all your life – a hobby, a passion – for which you couldn’t earlier find the time at all. It helps you focus on the positive things that emerge from the change.

Navigating through change is usually tough. Befriend SARAH to make it easier.

So which stage of SARAH are you in right now and what do you plan to do next?

Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash

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