How do I manage change in my life? Is this fear rational? Can I face it?
"Change is scary"
"I hate change"
"I don't *do* change"
These are the top three phrases that I hear when clients talk to me about change. Sometimes its almost like its a dirty word. The mere idea of change is frightening - or incomprehensible. Yet it happens all the time. Small changes happen every day and we don't notice. Much like when we are entering a period of poorer mental health. Often we don't notice the small things that we do or little changes that we make which influence the way that we live our days. Perhaps we decide not to go out today, it seems too much. Then the next day we decide not to take the dog for a walk, or cancel coffee with a friend. We stay at home where we feel less exposed, more safe.
These small changes can impact us longer term - say we stop getting changed out of our pyjamas in the morning - we can convince ourselves then that we can't possibly go out. We have put a barrier between ourselves and the outside world. We have subconsciously created obstacles that allow us to retreat into ourselves.
This is change.
What we are often really saying when we say "I don't like change" is "I don't want to be challenged" - and sometimes that's okay. If we are struggling with depression or low mood and cannot face giving a talk to 300 people in the job we hate - maybe today that's a step too far. Its okay to take care of ourselves, to keep ourselves safe.
The challenges which I'm talking about are those we feel a slow and creeping resistance to - like consistently telling ourselves that there's no point in applying for another job because we aren't good enough. That there's no point in dating or meeting people because no one could ever love us just the way that we are right now. That there is no reason to make contact with an estranged sibling because you'll never see eye-to-eye again. These are complex ways in which we talk ourselves out of change and into isolation.
Are there things which you would like to change about your life or the way that you live it? What stops you from doing it? Is it a physical barrier or emotional? Could you work on overcoming it?
Do you dislike change or fear a challenge? Its worth considering.
Laura is an online talking therapist and writer specialising in working with millennials and the LGBTQI+ community.