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Who ever said change HAD to mean ‘burning your bridges’?

So anyway…I’ve been meaning to ask this for a while -

Have you read 50 shades of grey? I haven’t and don’t think I will…but I DO really like the title!

When Brian and I were running our Licensed NLP Master Practitioner Course last week a theme popped up every now and again that seems to affect quite a lot of people.

It was the notion that people are scared of and can also sometimes be threatened by change.

The idea of change can seriously raise people’s ‘stuff’.

Change has mostly very positive associations for me but I know that’s not the case for everyone. In fact, for most, it can be pretty scary.

Perhaps it’s an unexpected change in your personal or work life or that you see the people around you changing while you seem to be standing still, it can often create angst and jealousy at a pre-conscious level out with most people’s awareness.

Why the heck is that? What about you…how are you with change?

Do you thrive? Does it always excite you? or does it sometimes freak you out a little?

What about your friends, family and work mates? When YOU change does it unsettle them? Do they embrace it or does it sometimes feel as if they try and ‘bring you down to earth’?

I’ve certainly found the later of these pretty common in my own life and it can definitely be quite difficult to manage at times.

I think there are lots of reasons why change can unsettle people but I find it mainly comes down to two things.

Firstly, a person’s threshold for difference and secondly, the idea that change HAS to mean that you are about to lose something.

In life we are constantly balancing the two forces of familiarity and difference.

On one hand we all need a base level of familiarity to function, feel comfortable and secure while, at the same time, we need an element of difference to create variety and spice things up a little.

Too little difference and we start to feel bored while too much can make us stressed or sometimes totally freak out!

If you’ve ever had a life changing event like the ending of a long term relationship or suddenly losing your job you’ll know the feeling.

In reality it’s not necessarily a bad thing (in fact most people in hindsight say lots of good stuff come from such events) but, at the time, it can be massively stressful simply because you just don’t know what the feck is going on!

So much difference and unfamiliarity has suddenly been thrust into your life that it can be hard to adjust initially and find your balance.

Most people find their balance eventually but it can take time to re-establish.

Everybody has their own threshold for difference…Some people can take lots of it and generally thrive on change and variety (these are also the people who have a low threshold for boredom) while others start falling off the edge with very little.

How is your threshold? How much familiarity do you need to feel comfortable exploring something new and different?

The second main reason is a trap that lots of people fall into.

The belief that change HAS to means we are about to lose something.

This is one most of us succumb to at some stage. It’s very easy (especially if you’re into self help!) to buy into the illusion that change HAS to mean the disintegration of one thing with the replacement of another.

Sometimes of course it does but a lot of change is actually about learning something new IN ADDITION to what you already do well.

Whoever decided it always has to be all or nothing?

This is actually one of the main reasons why ‘you changing’ (especially when you change dramatically) can often freak out your friends and family.

It’s not because they don’t like you and want to ‘bring you down a peg or two’ it’s that they don’t want to lose you! They think that just because you’re changing it HAS to mean they’ll in some way lose the special relationship they have with you

Again, sometimes this can be the case but it’s most certainly not the only path.

To completely obliterate an old behaviour and replace it with a new one is often called in NLP ‘sloppy work’.

To create new more empowering choices so they rarely if ever have to use the old way is much more elegant and healthy.

I love the metaphor of the shapes.

If you were an unhappy square who desperately wanted to change you might decide to become a triangle. For a while you’re a blissfully happy triangle, life is good!

Then, after a while you start to become unhappy again. You yearn for the ‘good old days’ when you were a square but you don’t want to go backwards so you decide to change again only this time you become a circle.

Again life is good! It feels different, fresh and new…being round is good!

Then after a while you start to get restless again…

You think to yourself, ‘what the &^*! I’ve changed twice now I’m still not happy! What’s next? A hexagon, pentagon? A two-dimension regular polytope? (it does exist btw!)

Well perhaps rather than changing to another 2 dimensional shape you could move to the wonderful world of 3D and become a cube…

Because within a cube you can also fit a circle, a square, a triangle or perhaps even a teradecagon if you wish.

By becoming a cube you increase your depth…you open the avenue for additional choices without necessarily destroying the old.

Sure, you might never want to be a circle again but you still have the choice if it feels right.

In actual fact, you’re not really changing at all, you’re transforming.

You’re increasing your flexibility and range of choices rather than replacing old with new.

Sure they’ll be times where ‘burning your bridges’ is the most useful thing to do and there’ll be times where a problem really does need to be exposed and extinguished but to suggest these are the ONLY avenues for change is nonsense.

There are *cough* ‘50 shades of grey’ in most things if you open your eyes and do a bit of exploration and there is often a way to include new ways of being in the world without destroying the old.

Maybe I will read the book after all, what about you? :-)

Take care
Steve

 

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