When we are in the sweet spot, where our relationships feel good, our jobs are comfortable, and our finances are just right, the last thing we want is for the world to shift and take us away from that good place. We want to stay in our happy comfortable places forever, and just the thought that the world will change yet again can often leave us in emotional turmoil. This fear of change sometimes leads to an inability to truly enjoy our good times and can leave us unprepared to handle our bad times.
Change is one of the more difficult realities for humans to accept because we have a fundamental need for security, and the uncertainty contained within the very idea of change can be upsetting. Because of this, humans often spend much of their time trying to avoid change. We fight to remain young as our bodies age, hold onto bad relationships for fear of what it will be like to be alone, stay in a career we hate for fear of a change to our finances or esteem. In many ways and in many areas, we hold onto what is, for fear of what will be.
Unfortunately for us, the one true thing that can be said of the universe, is change. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus, wrote about change in about 500 BC, saying: “The only thing that is constant, is change.” In the 2500 years since his revelation, humans have not yet learned to wrap our minds around the fact that change will occur, and thus it remains as distressing to us now, as it was then.
The irony is that we suffer, precisely because we push back against the inevitability of change. We are then forcibly pulled through life’s inexorable changes like an angry toddler reluctant to take a nap, wreaking havoc on our peace and causing emotional stress in the process.
There is hope, however. Instead of looking at change as an unwelcome houseguest coming to make our lives uncomfortable, we can choose to accept it, to welcome it in and acknowledge that our lives will not look or feel the same. We can learn to swallow the bitter pill of uncertainty, and embrace the idea of change, leading to momentary discomfort, but ultimately, resilience.
Most people will understand logically that we need to embrace change in order to enjoy the twists and turns of our existence, and yet the idea that things not only can, but will change is frightening for the uncertainty that it contains. The irony of course, is that embracing that very capriciousness is often what leads us away from depression and anxiety, and towards happier, more fulfilled lives.
Being able to embrace change, rather than resist it, can allow transformation of our lives in ways that we could not predict. The lessons we learn, through some of the hardest times in our lives, can grow us in ways we never thought possible, and can open the doors to opportunities we would not otherwise have known existed.
It is likely that we will never enjoy change, never look forward to the evolutionary shifting of life and comfort. But we can learn from it, and that learning can make our future selves more able to handle life’s slings and arrows, and more able to enjoy the moments of pleasure and joy, as we stop spending our time dreading their end.
As Karen Kaiser Clark said: “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose Wisely.”
Sassy’s Blog is named for the very astute cat of WRC’s Clinical Director and Counselor Kai Qualls, M.A., LPC. The theme of the Blog is Resilience, which is especially timely given our shared uncertainty during the COVID-19 crisis. We hope you will enjoy and benefit from Sassy’s Blog, this month written by Clinical Director Kai Qualls, M.A., LPC.