For those people who are on their feet all day, a good pair of comfortable shoes is a necessity. Not long after I started facilitating full time, I realised that I would need new shoes. They would need to be comfortable, as I spent most of my time standing. They had to be black, business style shoes, and because I travelled regularly and didn't like to over-pack, they would have to be good quality with the ability to be worn for long periods of time, day and night.
After some searching, I settled on a black, lace-up pair from Ecco, which at $250 was an unusually big investment for me on shoes. This one pair lasted me for a good three years before, reluctantly, I needed to buy a new pair as they were becoming worn and scuffed. Now I say reluctantly because I probably should have changed them earlier, but they were still comfortable! I didn't throw them out though - they were put into a cupboard where I could get them again, just in case.
And so today, some two years on, I find myself back in a familiar position. The new pair I bought were not as good this time. They scuffed earlier and the inside of the heals have fallen apart, resulting in them rubbing, and even though moulded to my feet as if a part of me, they really can't be worn anymore.
Now my head said it was time to buy a new pair of shoes, but for some reason, my heart seems to object every time. For a start, there's the cost; but my shoes owe me nothing. Its more about the comfort - they are part of me and I don't want to let go. New shoes are uncomfortable, they're stiff, when you bend your foot they crease awkwardly. You walk a little weirdly and all of a sudden, you're in the spotlight!
“Oh Cam, you've got new shoes!"
Yeah. Thanks for noticing...
So whilst these are only shoes, and you'd be right for thinking, “why is he writing about this?", the reality is I'm talking about my fear of change. And many of us have it. As human beings, we have a tendency to stay within our comfort zone. We can be creatures of habit - we take the same route to work, pick the same seat on the bus, choose the same meal at a restaurant.
Why does this happen? Well, most of us will fear, or feel discomfort with, change because of our evolution. Humans like routine; heredity and genetics predispose us to a dislike of change predominantly because we like to be in control. When this normal fear of change becomes out of control and irrational, perhaps through experiencing traumatic life changes, the person can suffer from a full blown phobia. In this case, Metathesiophobia, from the Latin 'meta', meaning change and ‘phobos’, meaning fear. At the extreme end of this fear, sufferers can fnd it difficult to move or change anything outside of routine. This can result in panic attacks, a reluctance to or avoidance of change, or to withdraw and disconnect from others. In these more extreme cases, therapy is recommended, but when it comes to most of us, we need to consider why we fear change in order to do something about it.
The example of my shoes is actually a great metaphor for fearing change, despite being completely true! My shoes were comfortable, they were part of me, moulded to my feet like reliable old friends. I perceived that the pain associated with buying new shoes was actually greater than the pain I felt wearing the old shoes. l’d have to pay for a start, and they would be stiff and uncomfortable. Yet in some way, the greater fear for me was feeling different, perhaps even teased like I was at school for having new shoes. So I'd take the pain until it became too much, and even then, elected to move backwards to my previous pair rather than the perceived pain of moving forwards.
For many people, the pain associated with changing is, in their minds, far greater than the current pain they are in, so they become frozen, unwilling to move and convincing themselves that nothing can be done. Whether in careers, relationships, smoking, drinking or life in general, we settle for what we've got, trapped in sadness but yearning for the happiness we are not prepared to chase because it hurts, it’s hard, it’s painful.
For those of us who do not suffer metathesiophobia, what can we do to reduce our reluctance to change?
The last four 'Cartesian' questions are designed to really get you thinking and aligned to the possibilities that come with change. Reframe your thoughts about change. Change is not hard, for many of us it is simply unfamiliar. Seek ways to strengthen your change muscle and you'll be more empowered to move forward.
Achieve your goals, fulfil your potential, live your dreams.