The Surprising Thing about Positive Change
It was the weirdest thing the first time it happened to me. My whole life, I had felt very dependent on other people’s approval. And, some people’s opinion of me counted more than others. But, all of a sudden, I just didn’t care anymore about what a particular person in my life thought of me. It was such an intense shift for me that I can still remember where I was standing when it hit me. Now, you would probably think that I was jubilant. But, I felt strangely uneasy. I even thought, “If I try really hard, I can probably get that feeling of dependence back.” What the heck?!
The surprising thing is that good change doesn’t always feel good at first. It’s bizarre, right? Well, not only have I had this happen a few times, but so have my clients. And, as weird as it is, this is a sign that someone has made very deep change, so I get really excited when it happens.
Now, I’m not talking about behavioral changes that you might make, like going to the gym or getting more organized. I’m talking about the deep, feeling-level change that people make through Quanta Change. Something feels strangely better in a way they didn’t have to work for. Maybe they just found themselves speaking up differently, eating better without planning it, or even being treated better by those around them.
Usually, when people notice these changes, they’re pretty happy about them. But, once in a while, they don’t get a boost from it. They might even feel let down or uneasy like I did all those years ago. Why would such big changes feel anything but great?
It’s because in Quanta Change, we’re peeling away levels of survival mechanism. That survival mechanism has been with us our whole lives, and it likes to hang on…tightly. It’s like the stories I’ve heard where a baby is being taken away from an abusive parent, and the baby is clinging for dear life to that parent. We know that the baby will be instantly better off, but that parent is all that the child has known, so they feel that they need to stay with the abuser in order to survive. They don’t even know there is any other way that life can be. The part of our brain that stores our survival mechanism never develops beyond the age of 2 1/2, so it is like the clinging baby…it only knows the way of being that it has used to survive all these years. And so, things can feel uneasy for a while when a layer of that survival mechanism is peeled away.
One of my clients had this happen recently. He told me about a couple of incidents that went much more easily than he had expected. One was a day where his car broke down after lunch, and he was able to fix it in the parking lot easily. While he’s used to fixing his own car, he didn’t get the kind of euphoria he thought he should have from being able to take care of it so quickly. In the second incident, he was able to get an issue resolved by a service provider without half the problem he had anticipated. But, he said it felt disappointing to not struggle in either of these situations to have a good outcome. That’s when I knew that we were dealing with big Quanta Change, because the primary feature of this man’s survival mechanism is the need to struggle.
I always get really excited for clients when they hit such a deep level of change that their survival mechanism is still trying to hang on, even when the change has already taken place. I know that this will be something that my client looks back on as a big turning point, just as I still look back with amazement on that day when I suddenly didn’t care what my friend thought of me. It makes a little uneasiness at the transition all worth it!