Monday, September 5, 2011

Are You Afraid Of Change?

Barbara: First off, happy Labour Day to all of you who get to enjoy today’s holiday. I, for one, will be reveling with my best bud, Deb. The very best kind of “labour”.

But I do have a topic of discussion I want to throw out there for any of you who might want to play …. So here goes. Like the title asks: are you afraid of change?

The reason I’ve been mulling this question is because I’m back home now after an intense week of moving my daughter into her college apartment (she’s not in residence so there were a ton of unexpected chores to the whole “moving in” thing. Like scrubbing corners and hooking up internet and building beds and waiting for subletters to vacate.).

So I’m back home now and finding myself down in the doldrums. She is happy and I am happy for her and I am excited for the next phase of her life and my own, but mourning periods are sometimes both inevitable and necessary. Either way, they still suck.

And as I was wallowing in the doldrums of my exhausted blues, I wondered––as much as I’m looking forward to it––if I’m not just a little afraid of the next phase of my life. Not because I worry about it in any substantial way, but because this life is going to be inherently different. And then I began to think of all the friends I know and acquaintances I’ve spoken with over the years who are clinging to a way of life or an aspect of their lives that they frankly hate because they are more afraid of change. “The devil you know” and all that.

I was curious so I googled “stress list” and found the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. Now obviously there are a lot of truly horrible events on this list, like losing a loved one or getting a divorce. But I also want to point out that a lot of the events on here are positive events like “vacation” and “getting married” and “outstanding personal achievement” (?!). And if you look at the top of the chart you’ll see that the 43 events are rated on a scale of “life change units”. So obviously Holmes and Rahe recognized that “change” is the inherent, measurable part of stress.

So if change stresses us out, are we less liable to instigate it––even if it would benefit us enormously––just to, you know, keep the peace???

Deb: Barb this really got me thinking. Really. I was resistant to change all my life. Could oft be heard to say “I will never...” or “I will do it this way forever”. Since I hit my fifties and particularly in the last few years I have come to embrace change, and in some cases to welcome it. Not, as you said of a tragic nature, but change that brings the unexpected, the surprise the “wow, I didn’t know I liked that” kind of change. And, frankly, I adore it. I say, bring it on!!! Adventure, travel, a new experience, I am there. Our boy’s life is changing and growing and given that I am three years into that metamorphosis, I have come to embrace it. I think I started with faking trying to embrace change, and then evolved to embracing change, with reservations and finally SPLAT––CHANGE, Exploring. Discovering. That is what I want for this period of my life. And trust me, these are things I have really wrestled with this week. So they are fresh and some of them hurt. But they are clear. For me, change is growth. Wow, look at me, all growed up. 

34 comments:

  1. Well I have always been afraid of change....really. Growing up, I would do anything to avoid change. However, since my boys have flown the coup, and I am in my 50's I find change fun and exciting. All of a sudden, I want to try everything, travel, read any book that has been recommended, cook new recipes. I look forward to the new change that my whole family is going through and how we will all embrace it.... they boys changing too .....new girlfriends, dare I say a wife and grandchildren :) :)

    However glibly I say all this, deep down, there is still that uneasy feeling way down that comes with "Labor Day" (and going back to school) You can really feel change at this particular time of the year because I think it's been put in our hard drive due to all the school years, and the big changes that go with that for everyone!

    So I think it lovely that you both are spending this day together with all the changes you have gone through.....it is a safe haven to be with best buds on the day that marks great change. Enjoy!

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  2. Just saw this post......


    Goals allow you to control the direction of change in your favor. - Brian Tracy

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  3. That's great Mary'Jo, thanks.

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  4. Wow, Mary-Jo, love that quote! And thanks for the thoughts. I so agree with that September sense of change. That will probably always be with us (the one thing that won't...change. Ha!)

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  5. I have never really been neither accepting nor afraid of change, but my perspectives shifted when I first came to college and everything was so DIFFERENT!!!! Now I greatly look forward to and appreciate change! :)

    P.S. Hope everyone enjoys their Labor Day! As for me, classes and work continue!

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  6. I embrace change and find myself changing my direction all the time and loving it. My life now at age 62 is so totally different than what I thought I wanted even 5 years ago. Change for me restores me and sets me on a new path that I loved even more than the one I left to change. Great article for today.

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  7. Well, here's another question: are we more prone to accept change in our younger and older years??? When we're young, anything can and might happen. In our older years, so much has happened and we survived it. In the middle, you sometimes regret what hasn't happened and fear more of the same. I feel myself living that -- but also feel it changing for the better, the braver, more and more the older I get. Yay :)

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  8. Interesting question. I think in my earlier years, I didn't like change. Here are the middle years and I am more embracing of change. However, on the other end of the scale my mother was in a nursing home in her later or final years and she did not like any change at all! In fact no one in the nursing home did! But when she was in her middle years, she embraced it too and in fact, went on a two month cruise around the world on the QE 2. We all thought she was very brave and adventurous! Funny, I guess the Middle Ages might be the best time to embrace change.

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  9. I forgot to mention that cruise around the world was by herself. :)

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  10. Mary-Jo, your mom's adventure is truly inspiring. And, yes, I also have that experience with the older people in my life -- 80s and up all seem to like things to stay the same!!

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  11. For me I can go both ways when it comes to change. Most of the time I can except change and usually face it head on. There have been time thought where I have had mixed feelings when it comes to change but I know that I have to deal with it. I do think that it is easier to except change in the younger years from my point of view.. I think when at my age I have just learned how to deal with change because change is all around us and we all have to deal with it almost everyday.

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  12. Good question Barb. For me it really seems that I have adapted and accepted change more and more as I've aged. I I think I was always fairly flexible with things even if I didn't love them. But now, I actually welcome it, just to keep things interesting. And when the change comes in ways I do not want, I find that my body and mind know where to go to help push through it. So yeah, better as I age.

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  13. I enjoy change for the most part. I don't like it when it's a bad change, like loosing a job or something like that. In the last 15 years we've lived in six or seven states. We move every three to four years. This past year I was ready to step away from my comfort zone and make a change. So I did my children's theater and will be starting grad school in a few weeks. I like change and new opportunities, but the years with very little change is nice too.

    We are amazing ladies here, we can handle any change, good or otherwise that comes our way!

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  14. "Everything is going to change, isn't it?"
    "...Yes." -Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

    Change...is sometimes both good and bad. I've been in situations with both cases. Like tomorrow, for instance, I have to change my sleeping/waking schedule (in bed by 10:00 tonight, awake by 4:00 tomorrow morning) But hey, that's what I signed on for when I decided to go to nursing school.

    Most recently this last week...I thought I would have to change majors if I didn't pass a stupid test. But I did...hence my 4:00 am awakening tomorrow. But I accepted the possible change and it actually made me more motivated.

    Yes, I understand change can sometimes even be scary!!! But in my experiences and my walk of life, I've adapted to just not fearing the change. It's very easy to adapt to change when you go to a small and very diverse liberal arts school...lol. But I've heard countless times in my life that life asks of you what it thinks you can handle. So all I have to say is...bring it on!!!

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  15. Molly, I think your theatre story really exemplifies the whole concept of flying with change despite fears. So inspiring. And Kelly, you too, with nursing and everything that that entails. Love your attitude(s)!!

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  16. Barbara -

    Back in March, you said the best, Best, BEST thing about change to me. I have thought about it repeatedly ever since, and it is a HUGE part of what's getting me through this dreadful month with the unexpected move.

    I can't remember the exact words, but to paraphrase fairly accurately, you told me that sometimes when a change needs to be made for the better, God reaches down, takes us by the shoulders, and shakes us by forcing the change. God can see things from a different perspective than we can and sometimes knows we need to be jolted in our stubbornness.

    That is one of the wisest, most useful, most heartening things anyone has EVER said to me. It has proven invaluable.

    Thank you a million fold!

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  17. Thanks, Rigel. I often say things I have absolutely no recollection of later so it's nice to know someone is keeping track :)!

    PS I do believe we get jolted. And I do believe it happens to mitigate our overriding fears.

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  18. Oh, and on the willingness to embrace change being age linked subject, it hasn't been an age thing with me. When I was young, I did things like going to visit a friend in Charlotte for a few days, loving the city, finding a job that would begin when I finished my contract back in Alabama, finding an apartment, and setting up moving to North Carolina a few weeks later. Then, I decided my brain was bored. So, I went and to the GRE, got a really high score, got my old college transcripts, and up and moved to Charleston, SC, for my first go at grad school. Aaaaah, the beach! I absolutely flew by the seat of my pants, and it was rocking awesome.

    Then, I married someone who was in the Navy. We moved a lot including cross country. I had no choice but to embrace change. LOL

    After years of that, though, it was nice to settle and be still for a while. We had the proverbial American dream: husband, wife, healthy child, couple of cats, big house with a big yard, 2 cars in the garage, comfortably middle class. Feeling secure. Feeling safe. Feeling stable. Putting down roots.

    Yeah, well, that was all an illusion that blew up in my face soon enough.

    What scares the piss out of me about change, now, is my son. I'm always fearful of how things will effect him. Ever since his dad destroyed our family, I've been extremely anxious about changes affecting my son. Protecting him is a restrictive prison for me.

    And, after reading Barbara's post about her change with Michele and all y'all's comments on it, I guess I can combine that with this. The thing I most look forward to about when my son graduates and either moves off to university or moves in with his dad is that so much of the fear and trepidation will leave my life. It'll just be me again. I'll be able to fly by the seat of my pants without risking harming him. There will be the freedom of knowing that any consequences, whether for the bad or the good, will only be mine to endure. My risks, my changes, my successes and failures, will not be inflicted upon my boy.

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  19. Just to clarify something, I was in Charlotte for a year. Then I went to Charleston. I'm not completely batshit insane! lol

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  20. It's a known fact that the only thing you can count on in life is change. so for me, although I identify with everyone who is afraid of what change will bring (devil you know theory) and embrace the change I choose (travel etc), the central question around change has become "what practices can I do to help me increase my ability to accept change?" The only way I have found to deal with change is to acknowledge it, and then continue my own meditation practice--which reminds me over & over & over (and over) again to develop the patience and wisdom to breathe through the discomfort of change and learn to co-exist with it. Case in point: my oldest leaves for England for THREE MONTHS in a little over a week. Believe me, the closer that gets, the more my heart hurts. Last night it hurt so much that I couldn't sleep. But instead of indulging my fears (which aren't real, you know, they're an invention born straight out of our assumptions about what will happen based on past experience) I focused my mind on my meditation and you know what? I didn't magically stop being a normal mom with a normal mom's worries--but I was able to go to replace some of those fears with a few breaths from my own center. And then sleep. Our fear of change waxes and wanes as we travel through life, and try as we might, we will never get over being human as long as we're alive. So we might as well embrace it and learn from it.

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  21. I have always welcomed change as long as it came with a learning curve. Most of my career as a worker bee has involved changing from one focus to another. I like the stimulus that change brings. Some change however can be more traumatic than others. I think that when it comes to children moving on we are confronted once again with our own mortality and the passing stages of life. I say grab everything you can each and every day. When one stage ends figure out what you want to do with the next stage. The possibilities are limitless!

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  22. Lori, as always, what you say is incredibly spiritual and moving. Thanks so much for weighing in on this subject as I'm sure your words will echo in my mind as I cope with Michele's departure. Good luck with your changes!!

    And, Rigel, I totally agree that children will affect our ability to adapt to change (or welcome and embrace it). I totally had the same feelings while they were younger. And really have had them until now. But the flip side of that is that by embracing change in front of them, we can also teach them courage...

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  23. Oops, John we must have crossed posting! Yes, yes, yes! I so agree. What really floored me though was my gut thrumming its displeasure during this process. But I feel better every day and more and more fearless and ready for change. Adaptation is as good as a change :)

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  24. I agree with Lori. Change is constant in our lives. Tides roll in, Tides roll out. We often can't control what happens to us, but we can learn to process change better so that when it comes - good or bad- we witness it for what it is - the essence of life. It's also the essence of good storytelling. A story about "everything going great" would be boring. Good narrative - in my humble opinion - is about a transformation of consciousness. You have a certain belief system then your world gets turned upside down. Now what? Either you sink back into old habits or you take the first steps into becoming something new. We're all just transforming everyday, we can't change that, but particularly when negative thoughts occur, through experience we can catch ourselves and lessen the frequency and duration of staying in a negative state. I enjoy reading your blog Deb and Barb - yes even as a 47 year old man - but maybe that's because I was "brung up" well by three sisters and a Mum. (:
    DMAC

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  25. David, we are so happy to welcome you here! Thanks for the wise thoughts. You know that whole "sinking back into old habits" thing is probably the habit I have to fight the hardest against. It seems to be so much easier to just sail along as always (particularly with that old devil you know), but it's actually proven to be easier and lighter and more joyful once I've allowed that shift to take place inside me, once I allow it to sail me in another (unplanned for) direction.

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  26. Change is inevitable, and when we resist it, we suffer. Or worse- we fall into a rut. Embrace this new phase of your life!

    My relationship with my daughter shifter when she went to college. She suddenly was interested in my opinions and sought them, rather than that teenage parental resistance phase. A beautiful new relationship is born when you can relate to your daughter as her own woman.

    Enjoy the ride, my friend!
    xoxo

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  27. I don't fear change, per se, but I don't do it lightly. I think the reason, and why it's stressful, is even good change ripples through everything else, so adapting is a lot of work. Even a new job I LOVE throws a wrench in... say my exercise and family routine... so the good comes with all these little adjustments. I nearly always gain weight--very bad... But I am pretty adaptable--able to make lemonade out of lemons and all that... So not fear... just hesitation.

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  28. For all of Deb's talk in an earlier post about not stressing over having her series and voicework ending, I've been an eensy bit worried about how she's doing now that she's back home from vacation and having to sort out her new normal -- leaving behind the past normal and facing the, "Now what?!?" of the new normal.

    How're you, Deb? *hugs*

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  29. Rigel, I'll let Deb answer that, but she looks pretty good to me! Hollye, I do look forward to my relationships with my daughters maturing and growing. Without apron strings attached. And Hart, I'm with you: just because something is uncomfortable doesn't mean it's not necessary. Onward and upward!

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  30. Another excellent topic, you two are just full of them. I think I'm sort of in denial when it comes to accepting change or at least when it comes to my desire of seeking change. A prime example for me is my job. I work in retail and have absolutely no real passion for it. But I know what I'm doing and am able to do everything well enough to get by. It's just something I'm used to doing though I very seldom feel appreciated nor do I get paid nearly enough for my expertise or efforts. I've only worked for the one company, it's been my only job. I also haven't even moved up the corporate ladder as many whom have been with the company have. It's not for a lack of trying, though I still remain doing the same thing. I very seldom work the same shift nor do I have many weekends off which leads into not having much time to mingle and start up a relationship. I used to be rather spontaneous when I was younger, so I was probably more adaptable to change back then. I think much of this correlates in a way to me still living at home with my parents, it's just something I'm used to. Maybe the change of moving out would be a bit much for me to handle just yet. I'd like to change a few things mentioned, there just seems to be a barrier preventing me from doing so at the moment. -Apey

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  31. I would like to be able to say that change doesn't bother me...but I would be lying! However, I think it depends on the type of change. There are some changes in life that we have absolutely no control over. And in those situations, when something happens to me that results in a big change, I think I do a pretty good job of adapting. Do I always accept and welcome those changes? Of course not, but since it's something I cannot control I deal with it as best I can and continue on. The changes that really scare me are the ones that I would have to instigate, such as deciding to pursue a new job or new career, moving to a new place, or maybe returning to school. Those are the changes that I have a hard time with since I am the one who is making the decision to change something. I honestly do not have a good reason for being afraid of making changes in my life, other than I worry about what would happen if things do not work out the way I want them to. Thanks for this post and all the comments! It's helped me realize that I'm not alone in my fears, but also that it is possible to start embracing the changes in my life!
    ~Tomine

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  32. Apey and Tomine, I think you both get to the heart of what I was talking about and how it feels -- or has felt -- to me. So, yes, we're not alone! But the question is, when we feel in a rut, what to do? I think the first thing is to trust that change is healthy and wonderful. If nothing else, it is the way we grow and develop. Some people seem to grow more than others over their lives, maybe those who face their fears and accept change get more chance to grow. Apey and Tomine, as far as work goes -- there's nothing wrong with deciding you're ready for change, maybe even exploring it, maybe looking online for other opportunities, throwing it out there to people you know, just uttering the words out loud, without having to do something dramatic like quitting your jobs on a dime (not that you're saying you would do that!). I think change can come as much through incremental shifts as through all-out-life-tumblers. Good luck to all of us!!

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  33. This topic also sort of brings to mind a rather crazy vacation my family experienced several years ago. Yes, I realize I'm commenting on the 'Change' blog as opposed to Deb's blog sharing her family's experience in Newfoundland. The trip I speak of applies more here as we experienced some drastic changes along the way. My family had rented and RV and planned to drive cross country from Minnesota to Arizona (where my sister was going through Army training) we were off to see her graduate and bring her back home with us. Everything was going as planned until we reached New Mexico. About 2 hours away from Albequerque(sp?) we drove over some rubble from a blown out semi truck tire. It ended up breaking the drive shaft so we spent a couple of hours pulled over waiting for a tow truck to give us a lift for another couple of hours. We then had to transport as much as we could from the RV into an extended van. Also, we knew we'd be stranded for another couple of days so we all called our supervisors to let them know we were held up in Arizona a bit longer than expected. We hadn't even picked up my sister yet, so we were on a bit of a time crunch. We had our dog in tow as well to complicate things more. It was rather difficult to find vacant hotels that would accept dogs. Thankfully, my dad had a travel agent so he called them up and was able to arrange for tickets to fly home. Though since the dog was with we had to find a local animal hospital that was open and able to update his shots on short notice so that he could fly home with us. This occured on a Sunday afternoon, so there weren't many options available. The following Monday morning we were set to fly home, the driver of the hotel shuttle van hadn't shown up so the person at the front desk had to scramble to find someone else to drive us to the airport. My family of 6 were all maxed out for the luggage count, so there was quite a process checking the luggage as well. Thankfully, the dog's carrier was small enough to qualify as a carry on so we just brought him on the plane with us. We ended up almost missing the flight a couple of us had to race to the gate and let the flight attendants and other staff know there were still 4 more of us on the way. We had a connecting flight and almost didn't make that flight either. To top things off my dad decided to share how our week was going with all who would listen and I could tell other passengers were getting a little nervous about being on the same plane as us. Besides quite a large amount of turbulence at the end (which caused a flight attendant to lose it a bit too much, when she was supposed to stay calm) the flights went okay. We had some family friends come and pick us up, which required 2 vehicles. Moral of this story: change can be a rather wild and costly experience every so often. But, I can guarantee none of us will ever forget the trip. -Apey

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  34. Apey, I love that you posted that story here -- because I think you nailed it: stuff like this that alters everything we expected also becomes our most memorable experience. And reminds us just how much we are capable of adapting and coping! Wonderful (although "harrowing"!) story!

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