Fear: painful emotion caused by impending danger or evil, state of alarm
Change: alteration; substitution of one for another, variety
(The Concise Oxford Dictionary)
During the past week I have seen two very different situations that have brought me to consider the Fear of Change, experienced both by others and myself.
In the first instance, I was visiting a person in the community who had engaged in an exercise program to promote balance and lower limb strength – the aim of which is to improve older peoples’ mobility and confidence so that they can safely live in their own homes independently.
Many of the elderly people I visit still live in the family homes where they raised their children, where they have experienced trials, tribulations, triumphs and great joy. The homes in which they have lived full and rich lives. Some are now alone, their partner having died or separated years ago. Their walls are adorned with family portraits and photos spanning generations, and memorabilia precious to them. Some homes are light and airy, others stuffy with curtains drawn. The homes take on the personalities of their owners and occupants.
Community Health workers may be the only external people to enter some homes, especially if the client does not have family living close by or friends who visit regularly. It is both a responsibility, and a privilege, not to be treated lightly.
This particular person lives alone, has multiple medical conditions and no family living in our city. It was clear to me that she was not managing the considerable upkeep of her large family home and her own health and well being, and I had been wondering how to be of best assistance to her, within the scope of my practice.
Her fear of change intervened.
At my most recent appointment she met me at the door, and told me she would not be inviting me inside, as she believed I had criticized her home – the home that her husband built for her and where she had lived all her married life.
She elaborated that she would live in her home for the rest of her life and that no-one would be able to force her out so long as she was coping.
I had not criticized her home. I had agreed with her when she had mentioned that there were mice in her lounge which she could not be rid of. She took my agreement as criticism, and must have then felt fear that I would set some actions in motion that could force her to accept help, or worse, present her with the notion that she would need to consider more manageable living arrangements.
Her Fear of Change caused her to reject beneficial action: the exercise program to help her stay in her own home!
The other circumstance is that of a friend going through a relationship break up. Raw emotions of grief and disbelief, if-only scenarios, wishing it were different. The shared home lovingly transformed over the years has now been sold. The garden is coming into its full summer glory, almost making a mockery of the hours spent visioning and planting. A new house has been bought, and awaits some loving attention. A new future beckons, with new opportunities for joy, for self-expression. Yet still there is the tug, the pulling backwards into what was. “I am scared of change. I want what is familiar”.
The Fear of Change holds us back, yet again.
“The events that transform us are usually not the things we would choose. As someone said, we never want to go through what we need to go through to become what we want to become.” Andrew Matthews – Follow Your Heart.
Reflecting on these two situations I am left pondering where I am allowing the Fear of Change to influence my own decision making. Only by letting go of the shore will my boat have the freedom to sail!
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