How we feel about change is arguably one of the biggest contradictions in the human experience. It’s one of the few things in life that can be at the same time both achingly seductive and appealing, and horrendously frightful. It is often among most coveted and also the most dreaded things in human experience. Change is inherent in hope. Change is at the core of almost all fears. In a very real sense it is the essence of life. Aren’t most things that don’t change dead?
The desire for change is the one common element in everyone that comes to me for therapy or coaching. Some people want to change what they feel. Some want change what they think. Some want to change their life circumstance. Some want to change how they look or some other element of who they are. For some, the craving for change serves as a catalyst to action and an empowering, driving force. For others, change anchors paralyzing fears and bolsters obstacles on the path to realizing dreams and desires.
We often have an innate attraction to familiarity and novelty. We feel comfort in familiar environments, eating familiar foods, hearing familiar sounds, smelling familiar smells, and spending time with familiar people. Few things can be as comforting and soothing as predictability. Few things can also be as maddening, boring, and restricting.
The depth and extremity of these contradictions when it comes to change can be troublesome. Contradiction in itself is a challenge for many to grasp. There is often a strong force to resolve a contradiction by choosing a side that’s more “correct.” Maintaining the flexibility and openness to see the truth on both sides of a contradiction can require a big investment of emotional and intellectual energy. It can be very tempting to try to simplify and categorize and resolve the challenges of contradiction. However, when it comes to change, I see over and over in my own life and in the lives of my clients that this kind of investment has a huge payoff.
Striking a balance between when to strive toward embracing changes that make you feel fearful and when to resist change as a way to proactively self-sooth and feel comforted can be enormously empowering. Success, peace, achievement, joy, and accomplishment often lie in the gray areas between the extremes of our attraction to and repulsion from change. Surrendering and accepting change as both a coveted lover and despised enemy is half the battle. Resisting this truth is ultimately always fruitless and the cause of an enormous amount of wasted energy. Try focusing on embracing the contradictions inherent in change and developing a deeper understanding of how they manifest in your own life and observe the results.
Image Credit: Technion