We have a complicated relationship with change.
It’s like a frustrating game of red light, green light. We want it (green light), but then we don’t want it (red light). We resist change and then beg for it. We want the positive results of change, but we don’t want to experience the journey it will take to get there.
So, why is our relationship with change so complicated? Why is it so resisted and so sought after at the same time?
When we look up the definition for “change”, we find a surprisingly simple explanation: to make or become different. This simple definition is actually loaded with meaning. First of all, we typically fear what we don’t know. So, if change brings something different (what we don’t know), it makes sense that we would resist the thing that would usher us into the unknown.
Secondly, the words make and become speak to identity. Hidden in the idea of change is the awareness that it may ask ME to become something different in the process (which is that scary unknown again).
If we tie these two together and give a voice to the part of us that resists change we might hear:
1. “Change is scary because it’s different and, (as we’ve already established) I’m afraid of what I don’t know. Since it’s uncharted territory I don’t know what I would encounter there. I’m afraid I wouldn’t have what I need or be what I need, which makes me feel powerless and out of control.”
2. “If change is going to make me different then that means I won’t know who I am anymore. I’m scared I would lose myself–the one I’ve always known. If I let go of this and took hold of that, who would I become in the process?”
Do you see the common denominator in everything we’ve established so far?
Fear is functional. It promises to protect us from feeling something else that feels far worse than being afraid. For instance, fear says “don’t do that, don’t let go of that, don’t step forward into that, because if you do you might feel rejected, abandoned, alone etc.” Whenever we move towards change we are confronted with its intimidating lies.
“You’ll be rejected”
“You’ll be alone”
“You won’t succeed”
“It won’t be worth it”
“They’ll leave you”
On and on it goes.
The reality is that fear is a normal part of being human–it will always be there to meet us on the cusp of change. It’s what we do with it, or in other words, how we respond to it that really matters.
Do I cower to fear or do I challenge it with the truth? For instance, as we’re confronted with the possibility of change we’re afraid we’ll lose ourselves, and the things we most value about who we are. However, the reality is that we’ll lose the things that have actually been impeding our ability to step into our true authentic selves.
Once I can normalize the fear and recognize that it’s a normal part of life and change, then I can come to terms with two far more important questions to ask myself:
1. Am I ready?
2. Am I willing?
Am I ready and willing to embrace the discomfort of the unknown? Am I ready and willing to step into my true authentic self? Am I ready and willing to challenge the beliefs I’ve held that are actually holding me back?
You’ve probably heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Well, change doesn’t require you to do more of the same, it actually asks you to be brave and do something different.
The complicated nature of our relationship with change can, well, change when I do something different–when I face and challenge the fear with the truth. When I ask myself if I’m willing and ready to embrace the inevitable discomfort I’ll encounter on the journey towards change.
Let’s not let fear, lies, or discomfort dictate our lives and who we can BECOME.