“When you are finished changing, you are finished”- Benjamin Franklin
Human beings are all creatures of habit, seeking comfort in routine and in the familiar. It comes as no surprise then that acceptance of change is something that poses to be a major challenge for us.
We cling on to the notion of “we’ve always done it this way“; because the pain of discomfort that is accompanied by change is not exactly a welcomed feeling. However, progress is impossible without change, and a society that cannot transform with the need of the hour is inevitably doomed for stagnation.
The Art of Changing not only needs awareness, but also acceptance. It is impossible to stick to the old and expect growth and prosperity to follow. The key to a fuller life lies in embracing this reality and even seeking it to access wider horizons of success that were unimaginable before!
Why Do We Fear Change?
Fear of change stems from the fact that the past guarantees us safety and reassurance, unlike the unpredictable future. However, the more we rest in our comfort zone, the more likely we are to become sluggish and even redundant.
○ Faulty Intuitive Illusions
While considering the odds and always prepping for the bad has helped man in his evolution, it has also caused psychological damage to a certain extent. Our tendency to fret over minor alterations in our routine, stress over “imagined outcomes” and fear the worst are a consequence of this evolutionary response.
This way of calculating our success and happiness in the future by some form of intuitive analysis can often do more harm than good. The more we start fearing the new and the different, the less likely we are to successfully adapt to the constantly changing scenario of life and overcome challenges.
Our instinctive calculator might sometimes help us from unseen threats or dangers, but more often than not it breeds skepticism to accept change in general. This kind of mindset can prove to be faulty as it is primarily wired to expect the probability of bad outcomes to be higher than the good.
Another reason why we fear the acceptance of change is because of a very restricted definition of success. Our conditioned beliefs and experiences make us see only so far, limiting our potential to our current self.
We already have a premeditated outcome in mind that we wish to achieve, and we often fail to see beyond that. Any change in what we had planned for our future self threatens our security and confidence.
Not just this, close-mindedness also stems from a scarcity mindset that makes us resist change instead of proactively navigating it. Our narrow perspective on the potential that change holds, the opportunities that can arise from it, and the growth that takes place from discomfort is what makes us fearful of accepting change.
Why Change is The Only Constant
If there is one truth of life that remains consistent since times immemorial, then that is change. The physical world and the events of life are all a testimony to the same fact.
○ Theory of Daoism and Darwinism
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them-that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like”- Lao Tzu.
Biologically, we know that the survival of our species has been ensured only through adapting to accept change. In order to sustain ourselves, it is imperative that we adjust according to the changing times and environment, or else we perish.
The entire cosmos breathes change– a speck becoming an atom, star, or an entire planet, or the birth and demise of species. Everything is subject to metamorphosis, and life is essentially flux.
Just like this cycle of life which is constantly changing, Lao Tzu’s philosophy of Taoism suggests the very same. Life is in a continual state of transition, and the more we resist this nature of change, the more miserable we become.
Only by letting go of control and embracing this natural flow of life, we can make change a catalyst to our growth and evolution.
○ Detachment paves the way for Innovation and Growth
Our desire to only accept things that seem favorable to us and latch on to expectations and ideas of certain outcomes is what keeps us from being truly happy. However, the paradox of life lies in detaching ourselves from “fixed” events, emotions, habits, and behavior in order to conquer the desired outcome, or even better.
Man can learn to go with the flow only when he detaches himself from the bounds of time. Instead of being fixated on past experiences and future apprehensions, innovation is born only when one acts on the present without fearing change.
○ The Truth of Impermanence
“Impermanence is the principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality”- Pema Chodron.
In Buddhism, the theory of impermanence is upheld greatly as the truth of existence. We always wonder why there is suffering and what’s the point of this life, because we try to fight the Universe’s love for change and transition.
Nothing lasts forever, day turns into night, and people take birth and die every passing minute. Even atoms die after having served their purpose. The more we are attached to the idea of a “permanent reality” that is positive and unchanging, the more we suffer from anxiety and confusion.
Our existence is an exquisite and dynamic adventure, full of light and darkness, brimming with this duality of yin and yang. No one aspect of our lives is absolute, and that is the beauty of it all.
Life Is Flux: Mastering the Mantra
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”- Socrates.
The more attuned we are to the nature of life, and its flow, the more effortless and dynamic existence becomes.
○ Learn, Accept, Embrace, Apply
The more we start seeing change as a teacher, the more we can seek to learn and grow from it. This includes knowing that the past is something not to be held on to but rather to simply reflect on.
Change is a constant companion and reminder of how the Universe operates on both a micro and macro level. Becoming aware of this principle reality is key to not only accepting change but also embracing it in all spheres of life.
It is only when we acknowledge this hard fact and apply it daily that our mind gets trained to adapt to any environment, and we stop getting overwhelmed by the unpredictability of life.
○ Developing Authenticity
When we learn to let go of a fixed definition of ourselves or the way we are meant to live, we start to live in the very present moment. And by doing so, we become more and more real and true to ourselves and handle life one step at a time.
Change demands that we take challenges head-on and act promptly. This can include dropping obsolete beliefs that no longer serve us and embracing new, revolutionary ideas.
Living authentically means we are detached from any “planned” ideas and outcomes, and simply act in a manner that is most conducive to our growth no matter what the situation demands.
○ A Sense of Equilibrium
Everything in nature occurs in cycles, and that’s what keeps the balance going. Similarly, knowing that every aspect of our life is impermanent and change acceptance is inevitable can be a source of major relief.
Inculcating a mindset that welcomes change brings an incredible sense of stability to the self. Then one can revel in the highs of life and brave through the lows with the same amount of calm and composure.
This also means we know that bad times won’t last forever, the old will be replaced by the new, and every aspect of life will be balanced by another in some way or the other.
○ Grow With the Flow
Accepting setbacks as opportunities and transitioning with the need of the hour is what change is all about. When we start seeing change as a catalyst and not an impediment in the grand scheme of things, we start to grow with the flow of life.
Since we no longer force things as per our own will, we also abstain from creating any energy blocks. This means that we start developing gratitude for the given circumstances and pace of life and can also effectively fuel the law of attraction into force.
All of these things help us drop any negative attachments to past experiences and expectations, thereby creating harmony within and in our external world.
Acceptance of Change in a Nutshell
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”- Andre Gide
Whether fearing change is a consequence of our evolutionary process or our scarcity mindset, it remains a constant of life and a huge factor in motivating and inspiring us to think, do, and live better.
Biologically and philosophically, we know that adapting to change ensures survival, and resisting it has been known to cause misery. Everything around us is impermanent, and therefore detachment from any regimented notion of reality is critical to innovation, progress, and most importantly, happiness.
Acceptance of change lies in embracing it, living with a sense of balance and authenticity, and in moving with the pace of life. Change is what expands the vistas of our minds beyond the familiar, urging us to strive harder and evolve beyond our predetermined limitations.
Such a mind that is then transformed by newer, fuller experiences can never go back to its old dimensions!