Archive for July, 2007

Fear of Change?

Posted in Essays on July 12, 2007 by barbararuth

I read it all the time in both consulting and self-help literature, “People fear change.” Friends and colleagues have remarked on what they call my “fearlessness” in the face of change.  I have difficulty believing that change is what people really fear. I think it’s loss.

Many change situations, whether positive or negative, involve loss. Getting married or having a baby? Say goodbye to your old life; even some cherished personal relationships may be destined to end. The same thing is true when you leave a job, whether you are promoted, get fired, or quit.

The difference between me and those change-fearing people who find me puzzling is, I believe, a difference in our experience of routine. I find routine very aversive; many people seem to find it comforting. There comes a time, after I have been in a situation for a while, that my actual sensory experience of the place seems to set. When that happens, I can conjure visual and kinesthetic images of something original, dynamic, and alive, but the current experience feels ossified. That is the time when I am ready to leave.

 I have noticed over the years that even in people who fear change, the fondest memories are of life episodes that were brief and temporary in their essence, time-capped and changing in a salient way, not indefinite. Senior year of high school. College. “When my kids were little.” Being a newlywed. Times full of future are the happiest times. They are certainly worth the price of dropping the habit of the 10:22 coffee break and recap of last night’s TV.

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