For those who consider attachment essential for their survival, change is the enemy
– Ronit Baras
As I wrote before in the letting go series, attachments bring us comfort and stability, but once we make an attachment part of our identity, change becomes an enemy. Do not get me wrong, attachment is important. It is when we panic, see change as a threat and go into “fight or flight” mode (subconsciously) that things get out of control.
If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living
– Gail Sheehy
Some people are very terrified of change. They can manage the devil they know and although they complain about it, they do not have the skills, courage and strength to do anything different.
Fear of change creates many conflicts in relationships, even when we talk about our relationship with ourselves. It is always a conflict between one side’s attachment and the other side’s comfort zone. Whether you are on the side that wants the other to change or you are the one being asked to change, you have an attachment. The person who wants the other to change is attached to an outcome in their mind and the person who is being asked to change is attached to what they are currently doing, thinking or feeling. The desire to change someone else in this format creates a lose-lose situation. Fear of change limits movement and the desire to change limits peace of mind.
There is nothing permanent except change
Do we have the right to ask someone else to change?
I am sure many parents who read this say, “Come on, what about raising our children?” Good point, but I still think we should not change them, only focus on enhancing the good qualities in them. There are two ways to get rid of weeds in your garden. One is to spray poison all over the garden and also kill the beautiful flowers and the other is to grow beautiful green grass with flowers and ferns and fruit tress so that they take over and there is no room for the weeds to grow. So, no, we do not have any right (or a chance) to change kids with poison, it is always better to put lots of energy into growing flowers.
Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken
– Frank Herbert
On the other hand, we can help people change in the direction they want to change themselves. Change can only be a choice a person makes. If you want to help people change (yourself, children, friends, partners, colleagues), make sure not to sabotage the change by:
- Telling them they have to change (notice the pressure created by the phrase “have to”, which only signals how attached you are to the outcome)
- Telling them they need to change
- Telling them to make specific changes
- Telling them how to make those changes
Every time you fail to avoid these things, you are reducing the chance the other person will change, so in effect, you are doing things against your own best interest. If you want to help, pick the right time, when the person expresses a desire to change, and help them recognize they have the power to change.
He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery
– Harold Wilson
Change is the only way to move forward. We constantly change, because every experience in the present changes us in some way and brings another future. If we examine our fears of change, we can discover that they are related to misconceptions of time, the future, success and loss.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude
– Maya Angelou
Not the Right Time, Not Enough Time
In many of the situations where we see resistance to change, people are afraid they have limited time, that the right time has not come yet or that the right time has already passed. They are trapped by a social clock and they allow its ticking to determine their life.
They are expected to be old enough to drive, to vote, to have children, to run for office and to be promoted. When they are old enough, they need to work to provide for themselves and their children, so they do not have enough time to develop themselves or follow their calling. Then, if they haven’t studied at the “right” time, it is too late. If they did not marry, have kids, get a job, buy a house and make it big, it is too late for them and this will make them avoid change.
Change brings opportunity
– Nido Qubein
Some resistance to change comes from fear of the unknown. Many people have a very strange definition of the future – they expect themselves to be able to predict it. They spend a lot of time (imagine that this is combined with the distorted definition of time) and energy collecting information so that they can predict the future better.
Instead of making the future clear, this usually creates a feeling of overwhelm. Having a million choices only increases their feeling of inadequacy and lack of control and paralyzes them. Procrastination is a paralyzed feeling out of a very limiting definition of the future.
We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance
– Harrison Ford
Success and Failure
Another reason for resisting change is a limiting definition of success. For those people who are in constant failure (in their mind), success is a far away, unclear and undefined pipe dream. They have a huge list of criteria to determine success and because they do not think they can ever do something that will tick everything on that list, they give up from the start and bathe in their misery.
There are no failures, only learning opportunities. You can take everything that seems like a failure and ask yourself, “What good has/can come out of it?” “What did I learn from it?” “How can I be grateful for the learning from this experience?” Every successful person will tell you a failure story as the start of the greatest success.
It’s the most unhappy people who most fear change
– Mignon McLaughlin
Fear of change is sometimes a fear of losing something. Keeping yourself where you are and not trying new things is a way to prevent (more) loss. The hardest things to lose are the things that are dear to us, including people, ideas, feelings and thoughts.
Here is an example of a loss of ideas: Two weeks ago, I wrote a very important grant application. It was the last day to submit the application and someone else was supposed to do it, but could not (I hate doing things at the last minute – I have an attachment to preparation and planning…). I spent 3 hours writing the application and put all my creative juices into my writing. At one stage, I pressed something wrong and erased the file. Gal and Eden tried to help me, but I there was no record of it anywhere. If you are trying to figure out what I could do, I suggest you let go. We tried many things and my file was gone. For about an hour, I contemplated giving up. I cried. A lot. There was no way on Earth I could go back into the same state of mind I was in when I wrote it the first time.
This was an attachment to something I had created and I needed to let it go and accept that crying over it for one hour leaves me one hour less to write a new application. I had an attachment to my loss for a while, but recovered from it quickly with the power of my self-talk.
When we are resistant to change because of fear of loss, our mind is constantly thinking of the closed door in front of us and we miss out the opportunities behind the other doors.
Relentless, repetitive self talk is what changes our self-image
– Denis Waitley
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference
– Reinhold Niebuhr
If you feel stuck and unhappy and you are afraid of changing, this is the time to let go and move forward. The first thing you can do is be aware that you are holding on. This is why a good change needs to be individually decided, without any pressure. Change is a choice. No one can change you and you cannot change anyone else but yourself.
The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance
– Nathaniel Branden
Here is a list of things you can do to let go of your fear of change, to bring many opportunities into your life and to live happily and successfully.
- Make a list of all the things in your life that you are not happy with. Make a huge list – the longer, the better. Being aware of these things and writing them down takes courage and it is a good way to practice courage and recognize that you have that skill. Make sure to write things down. Otherwise, you are not really facing them.
- For every item on the list, ask yourself, “What is a small thing I can do that will make a small change in it right now?” When I play Solitaire (the real card game, not the cheating digital version on the phone) and I am stuck and cannot plan 6-7 steps ahead in order to make a decision, I move one card – just one card – and suddenly, I see options I could not see before. In many traditions, they say, “Changing your position will change your luck” for the same reason. Change brings opportunities. Make small changes and big opportunities will be revealed.
All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another
– Anatole France
- When making your list, do not pick the most painful things. Pain does not allow change to happen easily. Pick the things that are a bit distant and not bleeding. For change to occur, your subconscious mind needs to allow you to use energy and pain takes most of your energy away. If you think that enormous pain is the way to get you going, be careful. It is true that pain is a great motivator, but pain sits on a scale and there is a point when there is too much pain and this kills your motivation, yet no one knows where this point is. If you ask me, I do not think we need to find it. This is one of those things it is better not to discover. It is like wanting to discover how it feels to fall asleep or, God forbid, how it feels to die. Pick things that are easy to change and accumulate success experiences.
Change before you have to
– Jack Welch
- Schedule the small changes you thought of in your timetable. You need to do it consciously. When you experience success with this change, your mind will be more inclined to try it again next time. One of my clients had a problem with his girlfriend yesterday. When I talked to him, I noticed he was repeating the same sentences. He wanted her to make the decision to move in with him and at the same time, he wanted her to make that decision by herself, without pressure. We had an agreement that every time he talks to her on the phone, he would tell her that he wants her to move in with him. About two hours later, he sent me an SMS, shocked that it had worked so quickly. He called her straight after our session. They talked for two hours and when he said, “I want you to move in with me”, she cried and said, “You’ve never said that to me”. Now she is considering it. Change can happen quickly, we just have to do something different.
Always remember that the future comes one day at a time
– Dean Acheson
- Aim to stick to the changed behavior for 21 days or 21 times to make it a habit. Good habits do not require thought and effort. When it is done effortlessly and you are happy with it, stick to it and move on to another area that requires change.
Warning: The desire to change constantly is the extreme opposite of the resistance to change. Consciously changing things with the desire to be better or get better, without time to enjoy, is very risky and will plant inadequacy seeds in your mind. This is why during I tell my life coaching clients we will limit the number of sessions and aim to reach a good state quickly. If you are in perpetual therapy, your mind thinks something is wrong with you and that you need fixing. You do not need fixing. No one needs fixing. Coaching or any form of therapy is like taking a rest or drinking some water before moving on towards your desired destination. If you see a therapist for a long time, maybe the change needs to be to let go of that therapist or that therapy, because they may be holding you back. Stop resting and start moving forward.
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad
– C. S. Lewis
- Find people around you who are already successful in creating positive change. Around them, you usually feel better, because they know how you feel and are more accepting and encouraging, enabling you to change without force. This is why support groups to change drinking, smoking, gambling or eating are very successful. We are rapport machines and we copy people around us subconsciously. Make sure you have inspiring people to copy.
- Read the quotes at the bottom. I have collected many empowering ones. Pick the ones you like or the ones you need and put them where you can see them every day. Make a habit of reading them to empower your self-talk.
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek
– Barack Obama
Things do not change. We change
– Henry David Thoreau
For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent
– Tony Robbins
You must be the change you wish to see in the world
– Mahatma Gandhi
Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts
– Arnold Bennett
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading
– Lao Tzu
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance
– Alan Watts
Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance
– Nathaniel Branden
True change takes place in the imagination
– Thomas Moore
If you feel like it’s difficult to change, you will probably have a harder time succeeding
– Andrea Jung
The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything… or nothing
– Nancy Astor
Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight
– Marcus Aurelius
You must welcome change as the rule but not as your ruler
– Denis Waitley
When it becomes more difficult to suffer than to change… you will change
– Robert Anthony
Change alone is unchanging
Change is not only likely, it’s inevitable
– Barbara Sher
I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better
– Georg C. Lichtenberg
One change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others
– Niccolo Machiavelli
You’re only as young as the last time you changed your mind
– Timothy Leary
Letting go of thoughts, ideas, people, beliefs and feeling that do not serve us in reaching our goals and dreams is the best way to ultimate happiness and bliss. Be brave and make the choice to do it now, because life is too precious to give up.
This post is part of the series The Art of Letting Go:
- The Art of Letting Go: Attachments
- The Art of Letting Go: Fear
- The Art of Letting Go: Trapped by Labels
- The Art of Letting Go: Be Right or Be Kind
- The Art of Letting Go: Living up to Others’ Expectations
- The Art of Letting Go: Control
- The Art of Letting Go: Blame and Excuses
- The Art of Letting Go: Painful Past
- The Art of Letting Go: Negative Self-Talk
- The Art of Letting Go: Resistance to Change