Change. That one little word can bring excitement to some, but for most of us, change brings along a sense of dread. What causes us to fear change so much? I’ve been thinking about change a lot lately and why these feelings come up time and again.
When I was growing up we moved a lot. Every couple of years I was starting over in a new place; I was leaving behind everything and everyone that I knew. That’s what change meant – nothing stayed the same. Change was a constant. It was so constant that it didn’t matter how I reacted to any change because by the time I adapted, the next change came. Eventually every little change brought on the same earth-shattering, core shaking feelings as the big ones. Different school? The sky fell. A new coach? The world ended.
As I got older, stability and routine became the most important things in my life. I stayed in jobs and maintained personal and professional relationships with people that made me miserable. It was more important that things stayed the same because the thought of change was terrifying. Even though I was avoiding changes in my life, every couple of years I would get the urge to move and start again. In a way, that was a part of my routine. I didn’t know how to cope with small changes; so the only option I could see was to leave everything behind and start over.
So what changed? For starters I stopped moving as often. Resisting the urge to leave everything behind and start fresh meant that I had to adapt. I had to learn how to deal with change in a new way. For the first time there were people who knew me for more than a year or two. I had to learn how to maintain relationships and let them run their course. I had to find the opportunity in the changes and not focus so much on what might be lost.
Change is still hard. I don’t think it will ever be easy, but I am working on it. Right now I’m contemplating a significant change and while the same old feelings of fear are there, this time there’s a new feeling with it. Hope.