Change is something we resist naturally, sometimes, no matter how miserable we feel in our current situation.
It’s all too easy to think of what could go wrong. I’ve been in that place where I’ve feared the outcome of change. Fearing it to the point where I pushed essential decisions to the back of my mind and ignored my intuition. When you’ve operated in this way for so long it takes some work to worry less and push forward with life changes. I feel like over time I’ve slowly made progress, so I wanted to share what’s helping me fear change *a little* less, and navigate it when it does happen…
‘life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. – Lao Tzu
What actually goes to plan?
Why are we all so obsessed with having a life plan. Honestly, the question of ‘where do you see yourself in 10 years,’ is bonkers to me. I know it can provide some comfort, but if your 10 year plan works out without any changes, it’s a miracle! Growing up I had a life plan, a detailed map of how I thought every year would look, it was basically the life I saw others have around me. Of-course, my life looks absolutely nothing like I pictured – and I’m happy it’s taken a different course.
The planned changes still require work
The past few years have been stacked with quite big life changes for me. Getting married and wedding planning, starting a few new jobs, redundancy, loss, moving to a new city, twice. I’m sure most of you reading this can relate to some, because they’re things most of us will experience. Some changes were planned, others weren’t. You probably read through the life changes and categorises them as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ but the thing is, all change requires emotional work, and a chance for you to play catch up.
It’s far too easy to get swept up into the initial emotions of panic and self-doubt when change is on the cards. I felt this (and still do to a certain degree) for so long. We resist change and crave safety. One thing that helps me put everything into perspective is thinking back to a time when change happened, and asking myself what came from it in the long run. There’s two things I’ve taken from the big changes in my life so far:
1) Lesson learnt: I don’t particularly like that so I won’t do it again
2) Why didn’t I do it sooner: I’m so glad I took the leap of faith and just did it
Both of these experiences are positive, so why do we fear change so much? Past conditioning is a big part of this, everything we’ve experienced up until that point of change is likely to alter our response. We need to start consciously thinking of the amazing life changes we want to make in a positive light. It’s ok to notice with the negative emotions we’re feeling around change, but ultimately realise that it doesn’t have to plan out that way. Even if you make a change in your life and it doesn’t work out, you will learn so much from it.
Make a distinction between a real problem and an imagined scenario that hasn’t happened yet
I was in denial that I was holding myself back for years, I would blame other things and didn’t recognise that it was unconscious beliefs and fear stopping me. To put this into context, in the past I’ve applied for jobs that I loved the sound of, got an interview and been over the moon, then made an excuse to cancel. I blamed another reason for not attending. The reality, I doubted my ability to work at that company. It’s scary how without even recognising it at the time, I was holding myself back. The only thing that’s going to turn a situation into a negative is my thoughts. HOW can I expect a positive outcome if all I’m doing is worrying about everything that could go wrong?
Gain clarity through self-awareness
Through gaining more self-awareness, I noticed that with all the small prospects of change my initial reaction was to think of everything that could go wrong. People would reassure me and I would still go back with something else to self sabotage.
Therapy, meditation, manifestation and daily affirmations have been a massive turning point for me. All four of those things have really allowed me to unpick things and become more self aware and actually notice this was happening. I’ve come to realise that I DO have the ability to choose what I think. I don’t have to take on the thoughts from past conditioning that don’t serve me anymore.
We’re ever changing. Through new experiences we end up wanting new things, finding new paths or taking a different course – if we don’t resist our instincts. It feels easy to bury those little niggles, but trust me, they will always come back bigger and stronger later down the line, and ultimately, you’ll come to make that change at some point.
How do we stop worrying about change less?
There’s no quick fix to instantly seeing the positives to every huge life change. Becoming aware of your own thoughts and noticing what actually goes on in there definitely gives you clarity and the drive to push through. When I get moments of worry about a big change, or think something won’t go to plan, I challenge it, and ask myself why can’t it happen? I think we can all agree that life would be boring if things didn’t change, I enjoy routine and stability and think that both of those things are important day to day, but you don’t grow without change.
self compassion and hope
Self compassion is everything. It’s crazy how we expect so much of ourselves despite huge life changes. When we face our difficulties with self compassion, it’s easier and quicker to pull through to a happier place. Not every change in life will feel positive, or even bearable to begin with, there’s that period of catch up where you feel a little lost and uncertain. But in the end, it can work out with hope for the future and self-compassion. I’m really trying to hold onto this, and remember that change is just part of being human.
I first wrote this post in September 2019, almost a year ago. I felt inspired to look back on it and update it after reading Julia Samuel, This Too Shall Pass. It touches on change, and how although it’s a completely normal thing to experience, so many of us are so resistant of it.
I truly believe everyone has the power to achieve anything they want. If there’s something in life but you are holding yourself back, maybe start to unpick why that might be and see where it leads you!