Life is a journey and along the way changes happen. We aren’t always happy about those changes and they happen anyway. There is a famous song by the Byrds based on a biblical reference. It is called Turn, Turn, Turn. The reference is Ecclesiastes. 3.1: “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”
So, change happens. Why do we feel so uncomfortable, even guilty, with it? Why is change difficult to embrace for most of us? Fear. Fear underlies the guilt.
Fear of the Unknown and Change
We become comfortable with the known, the everyday, the mundane that happens. We can rely on the predictability of certain events. When sudden change happens, even change for the good, we become a little off kilter. We might feel like we have lost our bearings.
Stepping out into the unknown is scary because we want to have control of our lives. Control is an illusion. We can plan and prepare and still, things happen. We don’t plan to lose a job, to have a loved one die, to break a limb, to have the fireplace glass explode! (Yes, this one did happen to me…what a mess to clean up!)
Guilt can happen easily here because we blame ourselves for the event. Even though it is admirable to take responsibility (and indeed, that is a way to empowerment), responsibility is not blame. Blaming is similar to shaming. When we blame ourselves, we are criticizing ourselves. We shame ourselves in the hope that this will never happen again.
It doesn’t work. A caterpillar may be afraid to change because he doesn't know he is going to be a butterfly.
Fear of Failure and Change
Another factor in feeling guilty about change, is the fear of failure. Do you know someone who wants a guarantee, written in stone before they attempt even the smallest feat? Perhaps that is you, perhaps it is not…
The fear of failure when we are faced with big and small life changes is immense. No one wants to fail. Because no one wants to fail, it is easy to never start. If you never start, you can’t fail, can you? Actually, in a way, failing to start is still failing. If you tell yourself that you will get to it tomorrow…and you don’t ever get to tomorrow, it is a failure.
As children, we have been conditioned to avoid failure or the appearance of failure, at all costs. Imagine a small child, taken to task by his teacher for failing to hand in an assignment. He will stand there, squirming, making up excuses about why the homework didn’t get done. "The dog ate my homework." "I dropped it in a puddle on the way to school and it was ruined."
Then, by trying to avoid failure and using excuses (or lies), guilt sets in.
Accepting Change Without Guilt
Realize that the world is full of change and that in order to steer your way through life, change is inevitable. Guilt has value in certain instances and it can hold you a prisoner in others. It is essential to forgive yourself, to let go of the guilt and move on….
Accept the change that has happened in your life. You can’t go back and change that, can you? It has happened. If there is a valuable learning, keep that and move on. When you don’t fight inevitable change, you free yourself to make the change flow smoothly into your life. What you fight, persists.
When you look upon change as a part of life, that life does not remain static…guilt is hard to hold on to. Embrace change, see it as an adventure….like the seasons, change comes and change goes…the seasons lead seamlessly into each other and change can too, if we let it…be the butterfly…
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