Change is an inevitable part of life. Change will happen regardless of how hard we try to hold on and stop it. Change is not something that I leap at enthusiastically, in fact it would be better to describe my feelings on change as something I am dragged to kicking and screaming all while digging my heels in trying to hold onto what is or has been.
I am not sure what about change it is that I don’t like. According to the Harvard Business Review the top ten reasons that people resist change are:
* loss of control
* when it takes you by surprise
* everything is different
* loss of face
* fear of appearing incompetent
* can involve extra work
* the ripple effect of the change
* historical reasons
* very occasionally the threat change poses is real.
Looking at this list alone starts to raise my anxiety levels. My mind is racing off to faraway places, times, events that haven’t even had time to happen yet. I have catastrophised every single possibility even the good ones.
I wonder if my fear of change came before my anxiety or if my anxiety was as a result of lots of change that has occurred that was a) out of my control and b) in many cases resulted in difficult or traumatic outcomes of varying degrees.
I have always been the type of person that likes to know how things turn out before they happen. I will read the first and last chapters of the book to determine whether I read the middle based on how it ends. I get frustrated with TV shows that have series long story arcs and there is no resolution in the one hour time slot and have been known to stop watching a series for this very reason until the entire series is available on DVD so I can binge from start to finish. I am fairly sure I wasn’t always like this (my parents might argue differently.) I am almost 100% positive that my need to control every situation has gotten worse as I have gotten older (or quite possibly more anxious without realising that was a result.)
I would say that I have always been headstrong others would perhaps say bossy and I like things to go my own way. I truly believe that the reason for this is because I was/am so scared of the uncertainty of the change, I was/am scared of how different things would be. I cannot control how others will cope with the change and I project my feelings about it onto them (ripple effect.) Many, many times in my life the change whatever it may have been moving house, moving schools, having no friends, being bullied, death, cancer, and so much more where things that simply happened to me, around me or to my loved ones. That is so very scary so for me the perceived threat (or my catastrophised thoughts of the future from the change) has in many cases been very real.
I also have this ridiculous fear of letting people down so I can think of a time when I was editing a publication for an organisation, it had a very small circulation varying of between 3-5000 copies. I had been editing for a number of years and had taken on more responsibility and the magazine was in reality one thing I didn’t need on my plate but I struggled with letting it go. I knew that once I did that things would change with it. I can look back now with a little bit of self-reflection and hindsight and see that it wasn’t the change of the magazine that I didn’t want I was scared that if things changed this meant that all the blood, sweat and tears I had put in and the countless hours I spent away from my family was for nothing, because by changing the magazine in my irrational, crazy little head that meant that people weren’t happy with my work and I had been doing it wrong the whole time and I had let people down that I loved and respected. I truly believed this (and I think still a part of me still does) but I also understand that change is inevitable and that change can be necessary to stay relevant and current, which in itself is absolutely no reflection on my efforts.
I really want to be a ‘go with the flow’ type of gal but I just can’t do it. It goes against everything in me and I really struggle to enjoy things if I don’t know what is going to happen. If someone was to suggest going for a drive that would fill me with dread. Where are we going, why, how long will we be gone, what is the purpose and on. I find it really hard to just sit back and take in the scenery of the drive or that sometimes in life there is no other purpose than just to get out of the house and do something different. I have certainly never been a jump in the car with a few clothes go travelling kind of gal. I am much better if I know where, when, why and how (and to be the driver!) there is a bigger chance I will enjoy things and not ruin it for everyone else if I know all of this in advance.
Lots of change in life can bring beautiful outcomes like the biggest change when I discovered I was pregnant after being told I would never have children that is a huge thing to get your head around. I have amazing children as a result of this change in my life they are the light of my life but boy that has been a huge learning curve in letting go, this is such a hard thing to do when every fibre of your being fights against it.
You would think I would have learnt through having children is that you cannot control everything, change will happen whether you like it or not but no I didn’t learn that lesson. So perhaps that is what this season in my life is all about it is about learning to accept that which I cannot change and the strength to cope with the change that does happen. I don’t think it is as much about changing who I am but more learning to love who I am and get it to work for me instead of against me. Let’s face it we can never go back to what has been because we are different people, we are older, in some cases wiser and very possibly we in our heads have romanticised the past it can never be that way again. We need to live in the moment and enjoy things for what they are.
Change is not always bad contrary to what I tell myself. Change can be amazing so I am told. I doubt I will ever be someone who leaps feet first into change but maybe one day I can at least go along more willingingly and far less fearful than I am. Let’s face it without change a caterpillar would always just be a big fat grub instead of the beautiful butterfly it becomes through change. Robin Sharma says “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.” Just like the butterfly!
How are you with change? Do you like it? Love & thrive on it? Or hate it just like me? Tell me your stories.