Hating Change: Hate the Wind

Change causes us to break out in a sweat. We react to change with procrastination, with fear, with stubbornness. It doesn’t matter how we react, change is driven by time, and change happens unexpectedly. Fast. Unnervingly fast. Hating change is like hating the wind–it doesn’t care that you hate it; it still blows.

The instand of change: you are traveling 65 mph, you can see, the weather is good. Suddenly your windshield smashes in, glass flies throughout the car, you can't see. Change. Did you notice the image of the bird in the middle of the impact zone? It's not what hit the windshield, it's what you see in it.

What makes change so awful? Most of my clients answer, “it’s the unknown next-step portion of change I hate,” but I don’t think so. When I ask a coaching client to give me an example, they tell me about feeling excruciatingly emotionally unprepared. Awkward. Not up to the task of facing change. Feeling not ready is the inevitable companion to change. So is feeling awkward, ungainly, not suited for the task. What makes change so awful is the lack of adjustment time. No time to prepare the perfect reply. No chance to look chic and unsurprised. Change catches you by surprise, with your shoes untied and not ready to run.

Change throws us into a formal party while we are still wearing our emotional play clothes. Suddenly, what seemed appropriate for the emotional playground doesn’t fit into the serious polished-shoe environment we find ourselves in. We are caught off-guard. And off-guard,  without time to plan, we make bad decisions.

My coaching practice is rooted in helping people survive change. Then thrive with it. But it’s not easy, and there can be a lot of tears first. Change is not always a friend.

When change whips around us, it’s a windstorm of confusion, decisions, and often paperwork—all within a tight deadline. You get laid off, and must choose a generous package with a non-disclosure signature or no package and a sense of righteousness. A loved one is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, the kind that destroys plans, futures, whole families. What decisions are right? What decisions are right now?

The second part of change we hate is the fast decision making. We make decisions that are based in fear, and then see days and months of self-blame stretch in front of us. When loss is a choice, we make decisions that buffer the loss, and watch anger flood in, because we settled for less than we wanted because we had to decide quickly.

Change doesn’t always mean bad news, but even good change can look like bad news. Teaching clients to deal with change often starts with learning how to stay calm. Harder than it sounds. But once you’ve learned that, you can see change as a tool, not as a result. And that gives you the power to build.

Quinn McDonald is a life- and creativity coach who helps people survive change and thrive in a changing time. Write her at QuinnCreative @yahoo. com to find out how she can help. [Close up the spaces to make the email address work.]

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8 responses to “Hating Change: Hate the Wind

  1. Change IS hard, even good change takes away the known and substitutes unknown. Known usually feels more comfortable, less threatening — even if it isn’t.
    And yes, I identify so much with the “not enough time.” In my perfect world, change would happen slowly, I would adapt slowly, and always be stretching a bit, but never close to the breaking point. Not real life, change is often dramatic. But even when there is time enough to adapt, there is often hesitation. “Is it better over there? I don;t like it much here, but what if it’s worse over there?” And when I eventually turn the corner, I often LIKE what I discover.
    The idea of stagnating and never changing doesn’t sound too appealing, so it seems as if the opportunity for change would be OK. It seldom feels OK though, until you look back and see you are through the hard part and you made it in one piece..

    • If we called it “stagnation stop” instead of change, it might seem more appealing. But change demands changes of others. If you want to change, you bring your friends and family into it. And they may not like it, so they sabotage you in ever so subtle ways. Change demands courage, too.

  2. Great insight. Change brings fear and with it, sometimes, paralysis. Baby steps help me…….thanks for the good energy this post brings :-)

  3. Quinn, I could not find where you email is to send you a question so I will ask you in this forum. sorry I took a class from you at PVCC and we did some mixed media work. Could you tell me the kind of paper you used for our “tape books”? I really thought the class was fun and I would like to make another book, but couldn’t remember what kind of paper you used. I thought it was Hammermill, but when I looked at that paper it just looked like copy paper. Thanks for any info you can give. Have a wonderful day!

    • Hi Cindy–I’ve answered you more completely in an email, but the short answer is that Canson and Strathmore make good paper for this project. Use 90-lb or anything over 244 gsm and you’ll get good results!

  4. Wow Quinn. Its a grey, dark Monday morning in Ireland. I awake knowing today is the day I implement huge changes. I meditate before I rise to try to centre myself and connect to “the white light”. I get my breakfast, open my emails – and here is your post!! Thank you for this serendipitous coincidence.
    I’ve been experiencing all you describe. And along with it, that little voice that shouts out from deep inside “what will become of me?”
    “the winds of change are blowing wild and free – you ain’t seen nothing of me yet” ( Bob Dylan)

    • What will become of you is that making decisions from a grounded space will allow you to use the part of you that is wise. You will prepare yourself and make good decisions. That’s the joy of preparing instead of panicking. I believe in serendipity, and I’m glad I could be in yours!

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