Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less”. [Marie Curie]
I have always been interested in why we resist change. I am intrigued as to why we stay in situations that no longer work for us, in jobs or relationships that no longer bring us pleasure? It seems to me that contemplating change brings us face to face with that which we fear. This can manifest in behaviours and actions that undermine our stated intention to change. Alternatively, we may imagine bleak scenarios for ourselves which encourage us to keep going as we are. We work hard to repress our fears and build a series of defences to protect us. For example, we tell ourselves that we stay in that job because we can’t let our colleagues down or we remain with partners we’ve outgrown because they won’t manage without us. We may shift around a little, move departments or find a partner who is similar to the last, but overall, the status quo remains.
The act of coming to therapy is a courageous first step and can indicate a commitment to the desire to finally move on and allow change. The central task of therapy is often to discover what we are truly afraid of. It’s not useful to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ unless we understand what the fear is and reflect on how it may have dominated our lives. Together, therapist and client can work to think about the meanings behind the things we do and those we don’t. Knowing what we fear and why can provide the opportunity to finally face down our fear and move towards change.