Quick summary: Most people have something about themselves or their life situation that they desire to change. Unconsciously and consciously we avoid change because there is anxiety and perceived difficulty inherent in the process of changing. My purpose here is to point out a very common misconception – the misconception is that you can avoid anxiety by avoiding change. When you have a desire to change there is a degree of unrest or dissonance (in this context this means that there is a conflict between who you are and who you wish to be) that you are already carrying – this unrest… this dissonance carries anxiety with it. Therefore it is logical to change as anxiety is a constant… meaning you will carry anxiety whether you change or not. Change will likely bring positives to your life and the anxiety of that change will cease to exist once the change has manifested… once your desire becomes reality there is no longer a reason to change and therefore the anxiety will go away as there is no longer dissonance or the process of change.
In all the below examples there is a desire or a sense of necessity to change… without a desire or a sense of necessity (knowing that change is needed or would be of benefit) it is possible that there is no inner conflict (dissonance).
- Though change could arguably be beneficial to a person with no sense of necessity, they may lack motivation to change (as they carry no anxiety concerning the ‘problem’ that could be changed.)
- They could be perfectly comfortable not changing even if they have an understanding that the change would bring benefits.
Examples: My examples are meant to display situations in which either choice is likely associated with high levels of anxiety.
- A man suffering from ED can either live with the anxiety of his inability to perform sexually or he can experience the anxiety involved in asking for and seeking assistance.
- A woman suffering from alcoholism can either live with the anxiety of knowing that her family is concerned about her and wants her to change or she can experience the anxiety involved in finding a way to cope without alcohol or to manage her consumption.
- A man can continue to allow himself to explode in angry outbursts at his family and thereby choose to live with the anxiety inherent in his guilt and lack of self control or he can choose to accept the anxiety which will arrive when he asks for help and dedicates himself to practicing the techniques which will help him to better manage his emotional reactivity.
- A man can live with the anxiety that comes from his unconscious or conscious decision to avoid thinking about the trauma that he experienced while defending his colleagues in a time of war or he can choose to experience the anxiety inherent in revisiting those traumatic narratives with the goals of finding closure and meaning.
You can change for the better of yourself and those around you or you can stay the same… the choice is yours, but the choice concerning anxiety is not yours… anxiety is the constant.
If the elimination of anxiety is the goal, than change is the logical goal.
Changing and not changing both hold anxiety… the anxiety inherent in change is finite… the anxiety inherent in not changing is infinite.