Resilience and The Change Curve

Most of my clients will know this tool – it’s the Change Curve or Grief curve that Kubler Ross’s work was based on. What happens when we incur loss, in times of Change.


This is a simple tool I’ve used for years, implementing a big change project, during organisational changes, my own life changes and more recently with coaching clients transitioning to a new way of working at home. We experience this change curve every day in some form or other, usually moving through it quickly under normal circumstances. If you reflect on this, you will probably find that you continuously go through the curve again and again and often numerous times a day.

Change is all around us at the moment, it seems to be happening faster than ever and the pace of change is relentless and for most of us this feels like life now. 


‘’Change is the only constant’’


This constant change in our lives can cause a lot of stress and our response to change can have a big impact on our resilience levels. Change such as the changes we’ve all had to make recently gives us a whole set of challenges including managing our emotions. 


We all follow a similar path when we’re dealing with change and this Kubler-Ross change curve can help us understand the phases of change, but it is also good for us to recognise where we might be on the curve and where our team members might be. I have very been conscious of how it represents my feelings in particular moments and has helped me pause and reflect. Anytime we’re going through change – it can definitely help us to recognise where we are.

Adapted from Kubler Ross

Let’s break this model down and bring it to life a little using the COVID example and its impact going through these phases….

  1. The first phase was shock, surprise or shock at the event. Not being able to go to work, not being able to go out, see friends. The realisation of what is actually happening. Lockdown was then enforced as we went to denial. Disbelief, we were looking for evidence that this wasn’t true. It’s not actually happening. Then we can think about people’s reactions, not seeing people, fear, what does the future hold, will I get sick? Will my family get sick, worrying about older family, my kids can’t go to school?
  2. The anger phase could have been more frustration. Where we recognised that everything is different. Some of us may have gotten a little angry, frustrated. Maybe even anger at others for breaking lockdown rules.
  3. Bargaining, we might have started to ask the question….please. Can we get back to normal??? Can we just see a few people? Can we get a haircut??
  4. Then depression when we realise the end is not clearly in sight. We could potentially stop taking care of ourselves, stop doing the things that make us feel good and in turn bring our resilience levels down. We could have a low mood and a lack of energy.
  5. Once we can see a little more clearly and we get used to the new situation we move into acceptance. We’ve got used to a new way of working and we feel a little more positive. We have that clarity that we are trying to protect people, protect the vulnerable. Maybe we can become renewed and start to integrate some positive changes into our lives.

Every one of us has felt these feelings in a different order and we can go up and down the curve in any order many times in one day.


Most people move subconsciously through the change curve and everyone at a different pace depending on the phase they’re in and their own situational factors.


Resilience is really about how we think about Change, how we relate, adapt and how we prepare ourselves for Change.


Cathy Thompson

Cathy Thompson

Cathy is an AC Accredited coach, group coach, mental health first aider, EQi 2.0 certified practitioner and people champion. Her coaching approach is very focussed on our own personal values and strengths beginning with our own self awareness.

Do we struggle to be authentic?

I write these words for my own reflection while hoping this short blog really benefits my clients. I’ve often struggled with sharing aspects of my

Do we struggle to be authentic?

I write these words for my own reflection while hoping this short blog really benefits my clients. I’ve often struggled with sharing aspects of my