As I read over your fantastic perspectives on change, I have to ask why we need so much help dealing with it. I mean, literally speaking, change is the continuation of life. No matter your perspective, you can’t ignore how change started the world’s engines-without it, you wouldn’t have breathed your first breath-or how it fuels our survival by providing ample scenarios for adaptation. Change is so pre-historically natural to life that we couldn’t possibly live here without acknowledging and accepting it; yet we seem to have trouble digesting it.
The initiator of change seems to be time. When Time began, it released a dynamic process of change called growth, which is equally unavoidable. There’s physical (read: biological) growth that develops Nature’s ability to survive; intellectual and emotional growth that allows man to recognize, and also resist, inherent realities like “change”; and there’s societal growth (or regression, if you’re so-inclined) that causes change in human systems like religion, culture, and nationalism. Growth exists due to the reality of change, and the forward-moving nature of Time.
Let’s put two and two together. If growth is the result of change over time, doesn’t it seem silly for us to be afraid of change (and the passage of time)? I mean, we’re growing here! Isn’t that a good thing? So why do we resist it?
I think people actually want change-and we know we need it for survival, but another consequence of intellectual and emotional growth is this egocentric need for control. We LOVE it. In fact, we hate time to rush on without it, which means we have to control everything in our wee worlds. And most of the time, it just doesn’t work out the way we’d like. So, we hate the change instead of examining the way we handled it. Interestingly enough, we can have control, but not in the manipulative way we think of it. I’m saying that we can play god (gasp!), but only over ourselves. I’ll get back to that.
We’re now-people. It’s obvious, and you’ll definitely agree that our culture and its inventions give us every opportunity to continue in the “now” vein. So it follows that we don’t like giving change the chance to flesh itself out and reveal its direction. Nope. We want to control the movement of change. We’d love to stop it when it looks nice to us or pick and choose its results.
For instance, if I want a new car I’d be foolish to think my end of the deal stops at the sale. I have to think about gas, maintenance, title registration and renewal, and keeping it clean. The same with a house, going to school, getting a job, having kids (especially this one!)…even down to how we eat, what we do for exercise, and what we put into our minds.
In each area of life, our decisions tend to follow the same pattern. We like the immediate result of change, but often not its patiently waiting consequences. But with more forethought to each matter of change, we get a taste for what follows, we can see the reaction of our action! Brilliant!
Much like whether or not fearing change is rational, the responsibility of forethought (or, preparation) is something else for which we’ve received ill-instruction. But hey, there’s a remedy for that craziness:
Responsibility is the wonder drug for fear of change. Here’s how it works:
It’s my responsibility to choose what I think, how I feel, and what I do. See, I told ya you can play god. I choose-and have a responsibility to choose- whether or not I allow certain harmful thought processes to continue, and I want to control them because I know how they make me feel. Controlling my thoughts links to controlling my feelings. I like to feel happy, loved, peaceful, and confident, so I dissolve anxious, fearful, insecure thoughts. This takes practice, I assure you, and comes more naturally to some than others as our various upbringings have programmed us toward certain thought patterns.
When you understand controlling your choice of thoughts, feelings, and actions, you stop letting circumstances affect you. Instead, you affect your circumstances. Choosing how you think, feel, and do is choosing your situation. Your chosen reaction to unforeseen circumstances is as much in your hands as any direct action. You’ll find that the more you can control yourself, the more accustomed you become to foreseeing your circumstances’ reactive consequences-and thus, the more comfortably you handle change.
You can choose not to let change affect you negatively. But you have to want to see truth in that. It’s an easy cop-out to say, it’s natural for me to feel fearful when things change, it’s natural for me to want things to stay the same. But what is natural, honestly? A stagnant environment? Or the ability to navigate the ebb and flow of change in our lives? If you need a reference, look at nature and take heart in its long experience.
AUTHOR BIO: Chelsie and I met during our collegiate studies here in Nashville – crossing paths during our philosophical in-class discussions on Joseph Campbell, the journey of the hero, and the philosophy of the Matrix. She has an unmatched passion for life, and expresses herself beautifully through her writing and music. As an aspiring songwriter and musician, you can discover all that Chelsie has to offer over at her website – and all of you reading this should go give her a follow on Twitter.