Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 33 of Your Year to Wellness:The Fear of Change

If you want Sucess you must embrace Change

Fear of Change

I recently heard from a reader who shared that she has lost a great deal of weight with this Year to Wellness Program. I was and am happy and excited for her and everyone else who is finding spirit, mind body alignment.  But as I continued to read I saw that the reader was not excited about her strides, she was fearful. She was afraid that she’d do what she’d done in the past; lose weight and then gain more than she had lost. But she was also afraid that this time, her work would pay off and she’d actually achieve the goals that she’d been seeking for many years.

In some circles, people would call this a Fear of Success, but I’m not in that circle. I understand the theory of how when a person has experienced disappointment after disappointment they come to believe that disappointment is their lot. I also understand the idea that a person can become anxious about whether or not they will reach their goals, but I don’t accept the whole fear of success thing. I’ve been in and around people who strive to succeed over and over again and I believe that their anxiety is really a fear of change.

I first heard the Fear of Success theory  in the 80’s and back then it was applied to the plight of poor people who, it was theorized, did not get out of poverty because they feared success and just might not know what to do if they weren’t poor. Having grown up poor I feared that theory.

People want to succeed, they yearn for it but when there is failure after failure, there is a tendency to think that you are headed for the same disaster. More importantly though, we fear the unknown; I know what it feels like to be fat, how will I deal with healthy?

When my body first began to change, I had no idea what size I wore, it changed from week to week. Then came the compliments; strangers would pay for my tea and ask for my phone number. When I’d excitedly tell friends they’d roll their eyes and say things like, “Oh anybody can get someone to hit on them,” or ‘Yeah, he just wants one thing.”

My excitement would wane and I’d close myself to the possibility that maybe this plan was working. Then one day, I was out with my daughter for lunch and  I noticed a young man staring. I immediately went into mother mode. The guy had to be in his late twenties and Fatima was only 18. She rolled her eyes and sucked her teeth (something I had to teach Fatima and her sister, as they didn’t teach it at the private school) and said, “Mom he’s too suave-e for my liking and I think he’s looking at you.” I laughed and got up to leave, but Fatima had to go to the bathroom first. On her way back, the young man stopped her to talk and then I saw Fatima on the floor laughing. I was thinking many things, but mainly “Get up off of that dirty floor.” When she got up and came back to me, she was still laughing. I asked her what happened and she said the guy wanted to know if I was her sister and if she thought he could get to know me. She told him that I was her mom and that I was old. The young man told her that he preferred older women and Fatima told him, “Dude, my mom’s like 50.” He told her that I looked much younger and asked where we lived and she told him the corner of “Ain’t-going-to-happen and in-your-wildest-dreams.” She said that he asked where that was and that’s when she fell on the floor. “Dude, “she told him, “Young is one thing, dumb is another.”

We left the restaurant laughing and Fatima told me to get ready, because my six-pack had come out of the cooler and I was going to have a lot more of what had just happened.

I’ll admit that I didn’t know how to handle this newness. I get loads of attention from my work but this was different, I was “like 50” and suddenly I was being noticed for my looks.

I had to do as Fatima said; I had to get ready for it. I had to recognize that change is a necessary part of growth, that not everyone was going to like it, and that I had to learn to accept and embrace it.

Change is an ongoing process, so is success. Constantly remind yourself of the following:

·         Don’t expect others to know what it’s taken you your whole life to learn.

·         Be patient with yourself and others. Change is change and takes some getting used to.

·         Remember that change is hard, but things were hard before the change. If you have to deal with difficulty, let it be a new one.

·         You already know what failure tastes like, try a new flavor; Success.

·         Don’t measure your progress against where you’d like to be, measure it against where you’ve come from.

Wellness requires change; don’t fear what you’ve deserved all along.

Be well, be you, be Change.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

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