No matter how accomplished we are, how planned our life has been, how generous or kind we are, at some point we will have to address change.
We are remarkably resistant to change, even if we acknowledge it is needed or would be in our best interests. We are drawn to keeping things as they are (holding on to what we know) as we have a natural instinct to use past experiences to predict what will happen in the future and then act accordingly. Effectuating or accepting a change sometimes feels counter intuitive to our desire for safety, because it opens up the possibility of an unknown outcome.
Resistance to change can be very strong.
Even if we can conceptualize that if a change were to occur (whether internally motivated or thrust upon us) would make things better, is hard to accept or create. How we have handled set backs in the past can motivate us as to how we approach change. We are often held back by our fixed patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving - especially the fear of disappointing oneself or others by failing and how to adjust to the loss.
We can engage in magical or distorted thinking to prevent the cognitive dissonance of our experiences and keep us put. We might say to our self something like “when I get (fill in the blank) it will be better.” Or my (fill in the blank) is not as bad as (fill in the blank).
To address our resistance, we need to challenge each behavior and thought and find a way to rescript it. We need to become aware of what feelings are tapped when considering change and why.
Something to remember: The ability to alter one’s approach or respond to change is very personal work that takes time and support.
For people in conflict, sometimes it is hard to walk away from the conflict itself. People remain in the status quo even if a negative cycle of engagement. At least, these people may believe, the response is predictable and my reaction is too. I do not have to change my way of thinking or behaving even if it reinforces a chronic sense of helplessness.
People are often advised to Let it go. Get over it. Move on. That can invoke intense feelings. When they cannot, a perception of failure is reinforced. This can, in turn, make it even harder to do the very thing that is being encouraged.
Resolving conflict sometimes necessitates acknowledging that people may be trying to hold on and let go at the same time and that is ok.
Meanwhile time keeps chugging along. I am always reminded by these two lyrics.
It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all
Kristen Anderson-Lopez; Robert Lopez Let it Go
When did the choices get so hard?
With so much more at stake
Life gets mighty precious
When there's less of it to waste
Bonnie Raitt Nick of Time