Why are we scared of change?

You know you’ll be better off. You know you’ll love it once it happens. There’s only one problem… You have to actually do it. Whether it’s a toxic relationship, unrewarding job or bad neighborhood, the pain felt every day seems tolerable compared to the potential pain of change. At least it’s familiar.

Every day, we reinforce patterns. Patterns of movement. Patterns of thought. Patterns of emotions. Just like the momentum of a speeding truck, the more time we spend in our patterns, the more challenging it is to change course. We fear losing control. This control allows us to feel comfortable. To be clear, comfort is different than safety. It is possible to be uncomfortable and still safe. Just imagine a hike in the cold rain. No risk of death, just wet socks.

Not being the sharpest tack in the box, I have always had a tendency to run towards discomfort. This has consistently confused my friends and family. Over the years, what could be interpreted as blind stupidity has been rebranded to courage. Still not sure I understand the difference, but the lesson is the same. The result has been a life that others describe as ‘fearless’.

Now let’s see if we can unpack the reasons why people struggle with change.

Stuff

Material possessions can bring joy. However, the majority of the material items in a person’s life cause more suffering than joy. Every additional item that you own requires care. If it is something of value to someone else, it needs to be protected from theft. If it is fragile, it needs protection from physical contact. Anyone who has ever moved as an adult understands how overwhelming it can be to get all of these things from one place to another.

While it would be extremist to expect modern adults to become minimalists and live out of a small red bag like the Dalai Lama, there are things to be done. Let’s consider the success of Kondo’s decluttering lessons. At the core of these teaching, we are encouraged to consider how much joy we receive from a given item. This item could be a shirt, a bowling ball or a knife. This joy can come from frequent use, aesthetic enjoyment or memories associated with that item.

Some stuff management systems have a goal of minimizing to a certain number of items. For most, this is a bit extreme. Starting with a donation run to the local thrift store can work. Consider getting rid of anything that has not been touched for the past year. Or create your own time frame you feel comfortable with.

Less things allow for more free thought and the ability to keep momentum down by keeping the weight down. Remember that a truck loaded with bricks will be harder to steer than a truck filled with feathers. Lighten up. Create empty space in your life.

Optional Responsibilities

Puppies are so cute! Then they grow up. And they eat, drink, poop and pee. All pets require attention. The attention could be worth it if the pet provides great joy to the owner. More often than not, pets become more a burden for us instead of a source of joy. Every additional living thing that depends on you for life maintenance adds weight to your life.

Before getting that hamster, consider the reality of the hamster. Consider whether you and/or your family have the bandwidth to give that hamster the best possible life. Do you have time to play with the hamster and keep its cage in top shape? Make custom hamster capes? Play fiddle to the hamster in the morning? Think about the life this hamster will have in your house.

Remember that we are referring to change here. If your goal is to homestead, then a menagerie of animals is perfect. Get the ducks and goats. Collect eggs. That’s the journey. It’s a settling into the ground, not a moving over the ground.

Fear

This is a big one. Most people are ruled by fear. The largest source of fear is the unknown. Most of the physical world is unknown to us. Our own deeper emotions are mostly unknown to us.

Bravery is not the absence of fear. It is acknowledging the presence of fear and advancing anyway. Be scared. It’s normal. But the thing that you can control is what to do with that fear.

Fear can keep someone in a toxic relationship for too long. Fear of being alone. Fear of never finding someone else who will love you as much as this abusive individual who loves you. Even though abuse if present, it’s less scary than the fear of the unknown.

More than half of the over 100 million working Americans are disengaged at their jobs. This means they will put in the bare minimum of work. They don’t love what they do. But having a job is better than not having a job, right?! Not really. Considering the longer time horizon of life, people rarely lay on their deathbed wishing they worked more. Work feels less like work when you love what you do.

In order to make the leap to a profession of passion, it requires leaping. Leaping is scary. Will I get the job I want? Will I make enough money? Will it be what I think it will be? Trusting in the future is the only way to get past these doubts. Go through the worst case scenario. Will you need to cut back on going out to eat? Would you need to move in with your parents? With your children? Coming to terms with these worst-case scenarios can help to leap. If you can handle the worst case, anything better than that will be a pleasant surprise.

Planning

This can be considered intention. Intention always precedes actualization. Imagine that you are going on a road trip. It will take many days to get to your desired destination. You know where you are going, though. Even when you are driving at night, you know where you will end up. It’s only necessary to see the road as far as the headlights go. In many ways, that’s how life is. We don’t always know the details of the events that will transpire between our departure and arrival.

If we do not know where we want to end up, we will wander around. In the wandering, we will encounter interesting opportunities and experiences. While this does not necessarily result in an unpleasant life, you are not likely to arrive at a place you never tried to get to in the first place.

For me, the planning came in the form of a vision board. It was an evening’s craft project at the age of 30 that guided the next decade of my life. The final result of the process is less important than the practice of determining the desired outcome. Here’s how simple it was:

vision board

Ok, so not all of the things on this vision board came true. Most of them did, though.

Large plans require time. Small plans are fast. Because people are generally impatient, we have a tendency to create and execute a series of small plans. Each small plan completed gives us a sense of accomplishment. That little dose of dopamine is what we need to keep happy. Delayed gratification is one of the most challenging things for us humans. We don’t care if that banana will taste better tomorrow. We are hungry right now!

Have patience. The big stuff takes time. I try to break up life in decade chunks. They have a theme with some milestones. The longtime frame removes pressure for instant completion while giving direction to life’s wanderings.

Conclusion

Change is hard. We create ruts from our patterns in life. We acquire things and responsibilities that anchor us to our current state. If we start by creating and maintaining a nimble life, change is easier. Knowing where you want to end up ensures that the change is worth it.

About Shaun Oshman

love paper pen submissions storyCultivator. Educator. Learner.


Shaun has spent his career cultivating teams to do amazing things. He cultivated a team at YMCA Camp Ockanickon to develop and deliver the highest quality experiential education programs. While in NZ, he inspired the most fantastic group of 8-year-olds to exceed their own expectations in the classroom. Today, he leads the team at iSupportU to provide the highest quality IT support and consulting.

Through all of these endeavors, learning has been a common theme. In order to truly know ‘how to learn’, he finished a Masters in Education to prepare him to teach. A thirst for understanding brought him to the field of technology. It was clear that the tool of tech can act as a powerful catalyst to learning and growth for people of all ages.

While teaching in NZ, one of the most rewarding experiences was seeing how empowered the teachers had become when they learned to harness the power of technology in their teaching. This experience was the inspiration behind starting iSupportU as a company. Shaun wanted to see that same empowerment in individuals and businesses. Technology should make life better and bring people together. That is the core goal of iSupportU.

The company has grown by an average of 200% per year since opening. This has resulted in being a top five fastest growing company in Boulder and Broomfield Counties in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2014, iSupportU sold off its web department to another firm, purchased a commercial building and discontinued doing repair work for residential customers. The business was sold to a new owner in 2017.

Shaun is currently enjoying a mid-life sabbatical aboard his sailboat, Breeze. Play is key.

United in Tragedy

Every so often a tragedy strikes. Whether it’s a devastating natural disaster like Irma or a man-made catastrophe such as the recent shooting in Las Vegas, every one of these painful occurrences brings with them a subtle reminder of how fragile we really are. They reveal how gentle, soft and delicate we are at the core. They remind us how much we grieve when we lose someone we love. They show how much we hurt when we see others in pain. They demonstrate how sorrow is a universal feeling shared by each and every one of us, regardless of our background or upbringing.

We are reminded by these bone-chilling moments that despite our differences we are much more alike than we are different. Our bodies need water and our lungs demand air just the same. Our eyes shed tears and our wounds bleed blood just the same. We want love for our children and good health for our parents, just the same. We all harness a passion to care, to feel, to love.

Yet somehow, time and time again, we go astray from this natural way of being. When the dust of a tragedy settles we go back to our conditioned ways. We listen to the whispers or sometimes outright screams who tell us blame them, punish him or hate her. Pick a side they tell us, join our team. They’re wrong, we’re right. It’s us against them.

Whether its sports, politics or news, they want us to take sides, to separate, to divide. And we do, time and time again. We argue with our family over the next politician, we get sucked into race wars and finger pointing, we defend our beliefs with sweat blood and tears.

The harsh truth is each one of us is doing it because we think it is the better way. We wholeheartedly believe that we are on the right path and want our loved ones to recognize, validate and join our journey. But what we forget or neglect is that each individual is on their unique path and we cannot change or convince them otherwise. All we can do is support, understand and listen but most importantly unite. Unite in our love for life. Unite in our love for peace. Unite in our love for the world. Unite every day like we did after 9/11, Paris, Florida, Irma, Manchester, Las Vegas.

Let’s stand united in the name of all the victims of brutality with love and kindness in our hearts for their loved ones who have to cope with so much loss and pain.

The topic of unity always brings me back to a famous Charlie Chaplin speech made in a 1040 film The Great Dictator. His bone-chilling words continue to resonate almost 80 years later. If you have yet to see this speech, please take a moment to see it here.

Sending you love, peace and unity my friends. Be kind to one another. Love, support and appreciate each moment we get to share on this unpredictable journey of life.

With Love,
Alyana

Is your fear of failure holding you back from reaching your goals?

Do you remember your first kiss? How about your first job? Maybe the day you finally passed your driving test? First concert? The first time you rode the bike?

There are certain special moments in our lives that become so deeply memorable, it’s as if they become engraved in our souls. Many of those memories are our first experiences.

In our younger years, we tend to do a whole lot of learning. We are risky, adventurous, energetic and eager. We try new things without hesitation. Some of those decisions turn out great, some not so much (like that lower back tattoo your mom didn’t want you to get, by the way, you were right about that one mom.)

This is why so many people refer to their younger years as the good old days. (to my younger readers, role play with me, pretend I’m talking to the older you;) Just because we may be getting older, it does not mean we have to stop trying new things, it shouldn’t mean we have to become old, stale and boring.

Learning a new skill can feel overwhelming, I know. The idea of doing something I’ve never done before used to scare me half to death. I was petrified of failure, which is why I stuck to my familiar and comfortable routines. I cautiously spent my time doing what I knew how to do well which inevitably became old and boring.

One day my sister gave me one of the greatest gifts of all time (thanks, sis). She recommended a book that completely changed my perspective. The book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carole S. Dweck, Ph.D., showed me that within each one of us lives incredible potential to develop our unique talents. It also taught me that fear of failure is the reason most of us won’t pursue our passions, follow our dreams or even follow through with our goals. I learned that all successful people have failed at one thing or another but always find the courage to get back up in the end. This book inspired me, motivated me, and ignited a fire of curiosity.

This new perspective got me thinking: what else can I be good at? What can I master? What hidden talents can I tap into? Is there more out there for me to learn and love?

This became somewhat of an obsession for me. Since reading the “Mindset” I took up art classes, turns out I’m not bad at drawing. I had no idea. I also took on playing the piano. While I’m still no Mozart, I did learn a few songs that light up my heart with joy whenever I play. Turns out I’m not terrible at piano either. In order to challenge myself physically, I joined a martial arts class which made me a stronger, more confident and more resilient me than I’ve ever been.

If you told me two years ago that I would be studying martial arts, I would have laughed out loud. Today it is not only one of my favorite hobbies but is also an important part of my identity.

This new adventurous and risk-taking me is someone I did not know before. These days I actively seek out new learning opportunities and I am always up for a new experience. I’ve learned that there is no better feeling than mastering a new skill. The excitement, the happy juice that flows all over my body when I learn something new, is exhilarating! This excitement is exactly what we need to keep us young at heart and filled with passion and purpose.

Today I can’t believe that for so many years I’ve allowed my fear of failure to prevent me from learning all these amazing and exciting skills I cherish today.

How about you my friend? What are you really good at? What would you love to learn? Is fear of failure holding you back? Do not allow fear of the unknown prevent you from learning new skills.

Have you ever wanted to learn another language? Or maybe learn how to dance salsa? How about picking up an instrument or playing a new sport?

Whatever it is that intrigues you, give it a try. Just maybe you are awesome at it?

I invite you to find out.

If you need a little motivation, pick up a copy of the “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”! As most things, you can purchase it on Amazon 🙂 buy it here

Sending you love, peace, and good vibrations, today and always.

With love, Alyana

For more soul searching strategies check out these articles Not Getting What You Want? and Surviving in an Overachieving World

 

Summer Poetry – Beneath the Great Unknown

This summer I got to enjoy a clear starry night with almost no light pollution. It felt surreal. I was captivated by their beauty and amazed at how many stars are available for our viewing pleasure each night but how rarely we are actually able to see them. Where I live, light pollution rules the sky, which is why I seek out places where the light has yet to take the throne.

One night this summer while camping on a beach I was inspired to write a few words that express my love for the stars. Today I want to share that with you in honor of summer, in honor of time, in honor of life.

 

Beneath the Great Unknown

There’s something special about gazing at the stars
No light pollution, city noise or cars

We smile as we get lost beneath the great unknown
No interruptions, no reception on our phone

The midnight chill dominates the air
The conversation’s steaming, feet are bare

We lie beneath the studded sky
Talking about what ifs and whys

We ponder about what the future holds
While the worlds greatest show, in front of us unfolds

Our ears are tuned into the ocean
And just like that, worry becomes a silly notion

I see the universe reflecting in your eyes
Childish, beautiful yet wise

Today we found a new dimension
A place of wonder, kindness, and intention

This moment we will forever own
A king and queen under the stars
swinging on their throne

With love, Alyana

If you share my love for stars, please help me share this poem with our fellow night sky lovers via your favorite social media link below! 

 

Craving more poetry?  Check out some of my favorite works: Young Love and Dreaming of a Better Life

 

Not getting what you want? Don’t worry, it’s meant to be.

Have you ever heard this quote from the Dalai Lama “sometimes not getting what we want is a wonderful stroke of luck”? I love this quote, it makes me think about all the things I thought I wanted and all the things I didn’t get.

Looking back at a younger me, I see a very different person from the one I get to be today. Just a few years ago, I had drastically different priorities and possessed what I would now consider to be pretty questionable values. Back then I hoped for things I wouldn’t want today. Just a few years ago I wished for a life I would go great lengths to avoid now. This doesn’t mean that I was wrong. It simply shows how much I didn’t know.

Isn’t it amazing how much can change within a relatively short period of time? Particularly when we make room for personal growth. This kind of growth takes patience and a whole lot of soul searching. It requires thinking outside of the box. It may call for visiting places we’ve never been before and it might demand of us to let go of predispositions we oh so cherish. If we pay attention, we can almost hear our inner selves silently screaming to break out of their tightly fitted comfort zones. If only we dared to try something new, something scary, just enough to shift our perspective. If only we gave our soul some room to stretch its legs. Imagine the wonder we could find.

Through my own set of experiences, I now see that not all of our wishes are meant to come true and I now realize just how wonderful that can be. Here are some examples of what I didn’t know just a short time ago and how grateful I am to know them today.

  • I didn’t know that the quiet of the forest sounds better than the noise of a bustling city.
  • I didn’t know that money is just a supporting role, not the lead.
  • I didn’t know that there is so much more to life than building a career.
  • I didn’t know that big mansions and fancy cars do not guarantee happiness.
  • I didn’t know that by chasing things on the outside I would never find inner peace.
  • I didn’t know that facing uncomfortable inner pain of the past leads to finding the ultimate freedom of the future.
  • I didn’t know that struggles and challenges don’t happen to us but happen for us, in order to propel us to become stronger and more resilient beings.
  • I didn’t know that being comfortable in my own skin feels way better than trying to fit in.
  • I didn’t know that trust is worth the effort even if there is a chance we may get hurt.
  • I didn’t know that vulnerability is much more attractive than perfection.
  • I didn’t know that being weird is actually much more fun than being normal.
  • I didn’t know that being myself was not only enough, it is the key to emotional freedom.
  • I didn’t know that I don’t need attention to feel validated.
  • I didn’t know that a walk in nature can help us solve some of our most complex problems.
  • I didn’t know that welcoming and accepting all beings just as they are, feels so much better than criticizing and judging them. I mean this for the smallest of things, like judging someone’s attire to bigger more meaningful ideas like criticizing someone’s lifestyle choices. I’ve learned to love letting people be!
  • I didn’t know that love is the answer to almost every problem. At the very least, it is at the core of every solution. If we think and act from a place of love, our lives will be better and more fulfilled.

I’m grateful that the wishes of my past did not become the reality of my today. So if you haven’t quite obtained what you are hoping for right now, perhaps it’s life’s way of telling you that there are better and more meaningful experiences waiting ahead. Don’t fret over not getting that job, not landing the deal or not getting a callback. Maybe it’s all preparing you for the future, more wiser, more resilient and more complete you. After all not getting what we want could be a wonderful stroke of luck.

Need help with soul searching?  Try these articles How to Live Awake and Surviving in an overachieving world

Sending you love, peace and good vibrations.