It seems as though much of our lives are spent trying to create our ideal world. We seek meaningful friendships, people with whom to share our lives and possibly raise a family. At some point most of us want stability; a home, a steady job, reliable income, in order to be able to enjoy our lives to the fullest during, and after, our careers have come to an end.
Yet all of these things are founded on one HUGE fallacy: That when we find what we’re looking for, it will stay the same until WE decide it’s time to change.
It's about time.
We all know that we live in a world of constant change. But when we consider our own lives, where time can slow down to an excruciatingly slow pace (especially when we are anxiously awaiting something to happen), while other times it speeds by so fast we feel we’ve missed the important moments (like being fully present during a vacation or as our children grow up), it is easy to forget about that perpetual motion stuff.
When we find a place of contentment, whether it’s a job, our relationships, our home, schedule, or freedoms, it is only natural for us to want to keep them as they are, because they bring us joy (or if not joy, some semblance of peace or contentment).
When these things that we have grown dependent upon begin to evolve, as all things ultimately do, it is frightening, because we realize that what we have come to know and love may no longer be there for us.
Resistance is futile.
We may not notice the signs of change in those things we want to stay the same because of our attachment to them. As a result, we are surprised, shocked and sometimes dismayed. We want to play tug-o-war with the forces of nature. We resist. We tighten our grip on what is, refusing to consider a future without these things in our lives in their current form.
Change is about beginnings and endings, and the fear of loss or of letting go, is clearly a reaction to the later. A failed marriage, children moving out of the house, forced retirement or lay-off, foreclosure, changes to a job we love.
Sometimes pride enters the picture and we become embarrassed or belligerent, because we aren’t able to maintain control over these things that we love, and that feels like failure.
We believe that we can defeat change by tightening our grip on these things or people we love when at risk of losing them. Except we can’t. Like it or not, things change; they evolve. That’s life.
How to get comfortable with letting go.
There are ways to counteract the need for control and fear of letting go when they seep into our world. Letting go is a choice, and these offer some ways of getting to the point where we can make that decision:
Sometimes we are the last to know that we are resting change by exerting our need to control in other areas of our lives, or by holding on tight to that which is in the process of changing.
Other people in our lives are probably subtly, or not so subtly, pointing these tendencies out to us, but we are too enmeshed in our internal struggles to hear them. It’s time to start paying attention to what they are saying, and to accept that they might be on to something.
Once we recognize what we're doing, we can begin to understand why.
Find the missing link.
Resistance to change is ultimately because we are, for whatever reason, unable to trust it. There are a lot of potential possibilities as to why, and it’s important to find them out.
Breaking things down into smaller pieces can be helpful when we aren’t sure of the underlying causes of our resistance. Here's an example:
Is the root of our concerns:
In order to accept a change, we must be willing to trust that everything will be okay. What is there within the change that we can accept? What is it that is missing from the change that we need in order to trust it?
We’ve already explored the fear component, which should offer some helpful insight into why we’re reacting the way that we are, but there may be other things that we need in order to say goodbye to what was, in favor of what will be (a schedule or plan, an act of good-faith by another person, a written, signed agreement). Once we know what we need, communicate these things to others.
Accepting something we don't like is a difficult thing, because sometimes we are unable to get the assurances we need, which can have other effects on our behavior (see these posts for more information about dealing with ambiguity, or fear of the unknown during change). Even so, the first steps towards trusting and accepting change is our awareness of how we're reacting, why, and what, if anything, we need.
Find your solace.
One last thing. When change feels difficult, and we are struggling to accept it, friends and those things that bring joy to our lives are important to help keep us grounded.
I’ve written in the past about how certain people and activities can help us, where others can be a hinderance to our sense of support. In order to feel the kind of comfort we need when we need it, having a clear idea of who to go to, as well as who to stay away from when you’re in need of guidance and insights but not advice can be extremely beneficial in helping us transition to difficult changes.
Allowing ourselves to move-on.
It isn’t easy to let go of our fear of control amidst unwanted change, but the sooner we do it, the sooner we are able to move on with our own lives.
Letting go creates a smoother transition to change, and by consciously deciding to do this, we maintain our sense of control in a situation where we might otherwise feel helpless.
I should also note, that even if there's a change in the change itself (reconciliation, job extension, etc.), things likely won't be the same as they were. Letting go of the belief that life can remain static, is the most important thing of all.
Stay tuned tomorrow for a wrap-up of this week’s theme of The 3 Faces of Fear.
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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