March 11, 2016

Even if you (Really) Hate Change, There’s Still Hope.

birthday cakeI hate surprises. I even hate good surprises—like surprise birthday parties.

When my man planned my last birthday party, he consulted first my (grown) daughter about the idea. Soon, they both agreed that they shouldn’t surprise me.

She demonstrated excellent empathy and even better judgment when she replied, “Yeah, don’t do a surprise party. She would probably get there, and start crying because she wouldn’t be able to handle it.” He agreed.


But also comforting to know that the two people I love the most in this world understand me to that very embarrassing and vulnerable degree. And it proves I raised a child who pays attention and makes good decisions. Those are the things that make a momma proud.

I also hate change. Even change that turns out to benefit me—and even when I know, ahead of time, that it is a good change, something that will bring me good things. Welcome to reality, Grace.

A few years ago, I heard a friend describe herself as a “rut queen”—meaning she gets in a rut and she likes it there—and I instantly recognized that in myself too

I also like routines and familiar people, places and practices.

Change is scary for me. It always has been. I don’t like it. I resist it. It terrifies me.

I don’t like that out-of-control-feeling. I’m just wired that way: jumpy. I get anxious and feel overwhelmed when I think about changes happening. When I get overwhelmed, I pull into myself and become even more introverted than usual.

I get short-tempered, blunt and closed-off. Because I’ve gone so deep inside myself, I find it difficult to surface in order to interact with those around me. It is not that I don’t want to come up and out and be with other humans (I do), it is that I can’t—I am unable.

It is one of the things I like least about myself.

I think it’s because I value comfort, certainty and security over variety.

The self-help author Tony Robbins talks about six human needs: certainty, uncertainty/variety, significance, connection/love, growth, and contribution.

I hold on to “certainty” long after I’ve fearfully choked the life out of it.

My poor man. He has to put up with this. He has learned well how to combat this in me, though. Hats off to him.

He grabs me and holds tight. He repeats calmly, and with his normal confidence, “Everything is going to be okay,” until I can breathe again.

And when big changes are happening, sometimes it is a long time before I can breathe again—sometimes it takes months. This last bout has taken about six months of whining, crying, foot dragging, dread—and not breathing.

I know change is inevitable in life. I know I can’t stop it from happening. I know I should get over it. I know I sound like a big baby (I feel like one too). I know I should suck it up and be an adult and “Just Do it.”

So after a lot of self-encouragement—and patience on everyone’s part—I do eventually come around.

I get to an emotional place where I can actually think and talk about it with something close to normalcy. I get to that state, because I force myself to sit and think specifically about it so much and so often, that I finally get accustomed to the idea.

And then suddenly…I’m ready to go. I’m ready to change. I’m ready to move in the new direction. It always takes me too long to get there, but once I’m there and ready, I don’t back down or second-guess myself.

I just do it. I have to have time to get past the fear and into the this-is-going-to-be-a-great-adventure mode, but once I’m in the big adventure mode, I’m mostly good.

And my next adventure? That is all up in my grill and about which I have been worrying for the past six months? Well, most probably, I am going to have to get out of my house of ten years.

We’ve tried to refinance, but the universe—in very weird ways—seems to be conspiring to take a short cut I didn’t see coming, to move us from point A to point B, quickly and without the step in the middle that I assumed was absolutely necessary.

So big change is on my immediate, personal horizon, and it means jumping on that moving train.

It means ceasing the whining voice about “how I don’t like train rides, about how it’s moving too fast, and without even knowing where it’s heading.”

How do you handle change? I sincerely hope you handle it better than I do.

Author: Grace Cooley

Editor: Sara Kärpänen

Image: Stephanie McCabe / Unsplash 

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