The Fear of Change

JFK once said, “Change is good.” He was focused on changing the country, policies and practices, and the way forward which looked different than the path used to be. His words were used in the corporate world when change was needed, somehow as a way for people to rally around the change; “if it’s good for JFK it must be good for us.”

Change is scary. Change is daunting. Change can inspire or paralyze. Change can launch us on our path or keep us from seeing our path. Change can be fun if we let it, but often we are looking more at what is ending than what may be beginning and so we don’t see the fun. We see the transition, we see the unfamiliar, we see the new destination without fully understanding what it may mean to get there.

Very often, because change can be daunting and scary, we stay stuck or we stay in fear. We try to do what we have always done. We try to control too many pieces, and try to control people. Most of the time we control nothing, but that can be so hard to admit. Moving to a place where change is good and not paralyzing is not always easy for those who attach ourselves to things, places, people etc. Sometimes we break our own hearts by expecting others to change, when we know that we should have moved on long ago. Sometimes we break our own hearts wishing for others to find our value, see our worth, choose us, knowing full well that they cannot. We may see ourselves as not worthy because of their inability to see us the way we want to be seen. And so, changing means letting them go and changing our view of us. Scary!

Changing our view of us, changing us is interesting. There are times when we may look in the mirror and just think, “it took 50 plus years to create who I am, there’s no changing me now.” Other times, we may look in the mirror and think, “I am a different person than I was 5 years ago, I like this version better.” We can all change, and change our view of us. It means breaking patterns of behavior, it takes understanding ourselves better than we ever have and then consciously making an effort to behave differently.

When I was working in Corporate America, making a mistake was detrimental to me. I worked very hard to not make mistakes, to guard myself against the negative feedback. When I did make a mistake, or something didn’t workout the way it was supposed to, my reaction was over the top. I would brood about it and beat myself up to no end. I would continually ask myself what I could have differently, why was the mistake made and how can I make it up. I would twist myself up for far longer than anyone else would beat me up, I was my worst critic. I alway figured that this next screw up would finally have everyone wake up and realize I wasn’t very good at my job. That fear caused me to take less risks with my career than I could have, staying at a company for over 20 years because it was comfortable, I knew how to get things done and changing at that point was too scary for me.

That isn’t me today. I make mistakes and I learn from them. I figure out what worked well and then play with that to create the next version of me. I no longer beat myself up, I laugh things off more and figure it wasn’t supposed to work. I focus on the journey versus the result more.

I have gotten better with the personal changes I make in my behavior, in my thinking and very often adjust according to where I am and where I am going. I don’t take me as seriously as I once did and enjoy the ride. I cannot say the same for change when it comes to my attachment to people, places and things. That is where my fear of change comes up a lot right now.

Removing people from my life that no longer bring joy to me, who treat me disrespectfully, or who act like I am not important to them has always been difficult. What I have realized is my fear is that I will never find someone else who once made me feel loved, cared for and respected. Even though their behavior today says something different, I am holding onto what they once told me and I believed and I am fearful of never finding that feeling again. That has taken a long time to admit and recognize. My fear was connected to my self-worth and my self-love. I needed that person to feel that way about me because I did not. This is no longer who I want to be. I need to change this behavior and no longer allow people who play with my heart, who say one thing but do another stay in my life. Changing my reaction to their empty words has been quite the healing journey for me. Understanding that they have issues they need to heal, look at and change and I can’ t have them in my life when they refuse to make that change has been what has held me back over the years. It no longer does.

Change is good. I will always love what was, knowing full well that what is coming will be better.

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