Are You Afraid to Change?

Afraid to Change
Are you afraid to change?

We all are.
It’s a side effect of the way our mind makes sense of the world.
Let me explain.

Let’s say that your brain didn’t use your experience to help you understand the world.
Your perception of every object, in every moment, would be brand new, and you would spend all your time and attention trying to make sense of the simplest experiences.

That’s not how your mind works.
Instead, your mind finds patterns in your experience, and tries to fit every new situation into an existing pattern, so you know how to act with minimum conscious thought.
This leaves your conscious mind free to focus on the truly new situations that you experience.

How wonderful it would be if we could calmly, clearly, and consciously analyze our new experiences.
Unfortunately, our mind forces new things into old patterns, even when they don’t fit.
And when we encounter something that doesn’t fit at all into our established patterns, our first instinct is to protect ourselves, while we see if the situation is dangerous.

It’s the same when we think about changing how we live, or who we are.

You really want those changes.
And you find it pretty easy to imagine how wonderful such a life would be.

Still, part of you doesn’t recognize that new “you”. The imagined you doesn’t fit into your existing patterns of safe experience, and is treated with caution, until that new you can be experienced and proven safe.

But will you ever get to experience that new you?
If a new you might be dangerous, the safest alternative is to completely avoid becoming that new you.
And for many of us that danger and fear stops us from making real progress toward our dreams.

The Shared Experience of Joy and Pain
Pain shared is lessened, joy shared is increased Spider Robinson

There are two ways of experiencing the world.

  • Isolated. You can experience the world, even people, as objects – unendingly separate and different than you
  • Connected. Or, you can experience the world as a thick web, with endless connections between you and everything that seems outside of you

Most of us live with a combination of both points of view, although the isolated, object point of view usually dominates us.

It doesn’t seem to be a choice, though.
The way we live is strongly shaped by our personality, and many influences that surround us.

But you have a choice.
You can choose to move toward a life of greater connectedness, or greater isolation.

And that choice is not as simple as being sociable, or moving away from people. You can be highly sociable with people in a superficial way, so that you remain isolated within.

Do you experience joy and pain in isolation? Are your joys and suffering something that exists only within you?

As the above quote suggests, joy and suffering are different when shared.

Suffering doesn’t disappear by sharing it, by expressing it to those that your heart truly connects with.
But the pain is different, weaker, more bearable.

Joy, on the other hand, is not weakened by sharing it with those who you have real connections to.
It grows, not only because others experience joy, but the joy in your own heart is different.

Stories of Joy and Pain
We have many experiences of joy and pain in our lives.

If someone asks you to tell the story of your life, will you tell them a soap opera of every pain and pleasure and joy, regardless of meaning?

A good story has meaning.
And in our lives, there are moments of pain and joy that have great meaning for us.

You remember the powerful pain and joy that you have experienced.
But only some of those intense moments have led to a greater you.

You may still be wounded and trapped by the emotional pain of some of those moments. They may be little more for you than uncomfortable baggage that you carry around.
Then, there are other moments of pain that you faced, and through the challenge of the situation, you grew.

Some of your experiences of joy were only momentary pleasures, and you may look back on them with longing, finding the past more pleasant than the present.
Or, your joy may come from the feeling of seeing something great and wonderful. It may have been a personal achievement, or a touch of something extraordinary.

Did those joys lead you to rededicate yourself to the values and actions which gave rise to them?

With that rededication, you grew, and became someone more capable of bringing such joy into your life, and the lives of your friends and family.

This joy and pain in our lives that challenged us to grow, brought us into the future. This is the joy and pain that is truly, personally meaningful.

To grow from such powerful experiences is difficult, for as we’ve said, we’re afraid to change

Were you all alone in those challenging moments?
Did you share these moments of challenge with the right friends, and become energized by their support? Did their help enable you to make those moments meaningful?

Safety in Numbers
Year after year, we make plans to find and live our dreams.
To get there, we must pass through changes that frighten us.

When you feel that you are not alone, you feel stronger.
Challenges that would frighten you, seem small with the support of others.

We can plan alone, and try to walk alone, and seek no help to achieve our dreams.
Or, we can find the right friends, mentors, and a mastermind group to support us, as we do the challenging work of becoming the person of our dreams.

5 comments to Are You Afraid to Change?

  • Interesting article. So few have the courage to follow their dream. So many spend their precious time doing things they don’t enjoy and are simply in a rut.

    Thank you for showing us the way to break out!

  • It is interesting that in a former carreer, I sold and installed accounting systems software. My biggest problem was to get the people to accept change.

    It is an art that is difficult to learn, but it really pays off.

  • One reason why we as humans tend to fear change, is we become comfortable in what we think is secure. Because of this security we don’t search out new experiences, we stop learning, and due to the very fact that we don’t grow, our lives become insecure.

    We are no longer “economically viable” for our job, especially when your employer can get someone younger, who will do it 2x’s faster, 3x’s cheaper.

    Fear is an amazing thing, it wields so much power.

  • Stepping out of our comfort zone is always tough, yet so vital to our personal growth. Like you said, this is one of the biggest reasons why we fail to accomplish our dreams. Good article.

  • Jordan Cramer

    Hey there. I think that I’ve gotten to a point where everything changes all the time, but it doesn’t faze me as much because that is the norm.

    For Example —-> First Girlfriend, Homelessness, Living on my own, Renting, Had to live in a crack house, Running in coulees, Buying Military gear, First Vehicle, New Job, Wrestling with God, Highschool Graduation.

    The problem isn’t that I wouldn’t boldly chase my dream. It’s just I don’t have a dream. Nothing seems worth it. So I spend everyday doing crazy shit I’ve never done before. Like chopping wood. Building a metal working forge. Buying Military gear. Learning Automotives. Reading Philosophy. Working out.

    Anything that I actually do falls short of my expectations. I just build myself up and never really figure out why or what I’m aiming for. I can’t even figure out what my dream really is. I see myself living a simple life and dieing. Dieing with all these fucking crazy things I’ve been doing in my own house. I thought I should get a family and be a great parent. That was my dream to live with my one and only beautiful wife, but it’s not easy getting there. I tried and lost miserably. I’m not hopeless, but I feel that it shows me I was wrong to chase after someone who’d love me back. Never found that person ever time I got dumped. I gave my heart and soul to a relationship to hear the other person tell me they were faking the whole time and didn’t have any feelings for me at all. I was so fooled. That is how a beginning dream ended. Now I search for something else that won’t deceive me and betray me. There’s so much nothing because I haven’t found it. I think I need to pursue the finding of a dream as my new dream.


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