Well I've been afraid of changing...
April 13, 2021 11:26 PM   Subscribe

Going through some pretty big life changes, and I'm experiencing quite some anxiety about it. What are your favorite sayings, quotes, song lyrics, scripture, essays, etc. about embracing change? The inevitability of change? The importance of accepting change? Anything that discusses or presents change in a positive light, please!

All the changes are objectively good ones. They were meticulously explored, planned out, and actively pursued, some over the course of many years. I'm the kind of person who makes spreadsheets for everything, I really, REALLY like to feel in control of what's going to happen. Things are finally happening now, and I'm feeling all kinds of ways about it. Mostly anxiety and second-guessing myself.

Am I going to miss the way things were? Am I going to look back and regret the path I'm on? Really silly stuff. I'm hoping some wisdom about change will give me a swift kick in the butt and get me to a place where I can start feeling excited and appreciative of things finally going to plan. Especially since the last year and a half have been plagued with plans going completely awry, and not just covid-related awry, regular old "life is shitty" and "can life stop kicking me in the ribs" awry.

Many thanks for your wise words!
posted by keep it under cover to Religion & Philosophy (11 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I haven't got any particular quotes that spring to mind, but I'd just like to point out that it's not "silly" to have fears about change. It's probably the most fundamental source of human suffering: wanting desperately to be able to cling on to things even as we are aware they are constantly in flux and impermanent.

So I'd advocate trying to unclench some of your judgement-muscles. You've got several layers of unclenching to do: judging yourself for feeling this way, judging your inability to adjust your mind-set quickly, judging yourself for a lack of certain feelings you feel you should be having... and that's not even getting down to the real existential-level clench of wanting things to be predictable, stable, hold-able etc.

You can give yourself compassion for the reality of your feelings as well as the reality of change as the condition of existence. I don't think it's helpful to try to inner-fascist your way into being yay super excited no worries at all!!!!!

If you want to get in to impermanence, this podcast episode might be a good place to start.
posted by Balthamos at 1:09 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 - "a time for everything" helps me with change. It's lengthyish so I won't copy the whole thing here. Link instead.

Watching sunsets really grounds me. Something about watching the sky change slowly and then to know that the sun will set again tomorrow, but not in the same way, is calming.

Excited can feel like butterflies, which is also one of my anxiety symptoms! Stopping to interrogate how I'm actually feeling helps.
posted by freethefeet at 3:42 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Congratulations on actively making your life better by changing things up! I have similar anxieties, and both of the songs below have been really helpful for me as far as focusing on the benefits of change and my own initiative and desire to change. I hope these help you to feel confident and clear about your choices.

Clearing webs from the hovel
A blistered hand on the handle of a shovel
I've been digging too deep, I always do
I see my fate on the surface
I look a lot like Narcissus
A dark abyss of an emptiness
Standing on the edge of a drowning blue
I look behind my ears for the green
And even my sweat smells clean
Glare off the white hurts my eyes
I gotta get out of bed and get a hammer and a nail
Learn how to use my hands, not just my head
I think myself into jail
Now I know a refuge never grows
From a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose
Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose
Had a lot of good intentions
Sit around for fifty years and then collect a pension
Started seeing the road to hell and just where it starts
But my life is more than a vision
The sweetest part is acting after making a decision
I started seeing the whole as a sum of its parts
And I, I look behind my ears for the green
And even my sweat smells clean
Glare off the white hurts my eyes
I gotta get out of bed and get a hammer and a nail
Learn how to use my hands, not just my head
I think myself into jail
Now I know a refuge never grows
From a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose
Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose
My life is part of the global life
I'd found myself becoming more immobile
When I'd think a little girl in the world can't do anything
A distant nation my community
A street person my responsibility
If I have a care in the world I have a gift to bring
I look behind my ears for the green
And even my sweat smells clean
Glare off the white hurts my eyes
I gotta get out of bed and get a hammer and a nail
Learn how to use my hands, not just my head
I think myself into jail
Now I know a refuge never grows
From a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose
Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose

- Indigo Girls (Emily Ann Saliers), Hammer And A Nail

I have run out of time
I have done lost my mind
I have run out of time
I have done lost my mind
I didn't know
I didn't know
I've been so oppressed that I don't even know
What's bothering me
All my bad habits have got to, got to go
Entirely
It's my year to be free
What's bothering me?
It's this society
It's killing me
All my bad habits have got to got to go
All my bad habits have got to got to go
All my bad habits have got to got to go
All my bad habits have got to got to go
Fela Kuti in the 1970's, inspires me
All he wanted was his people to be free, from the colonies
Like Mahatma Ghandi, in the 1940's
I've been reading about woman's history, in the 1920's
Thinking about how I can be so much better
Thinking about all the tears I've cried
Thinking about how we can be so much better
Thinking about all the tears we've cried
Ha
All my bad habits have got to got to go

- Madame Gandhi, Bad Habits
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 5:20 AM on April 14


"New things are always hard." I often have to remind myself that I can't judge a new (job, home, location, car, whatever) until it's a little less new, because nothing new is ever comfortable or familiar. The behavior attached to this plan is "give it time," but "new things are always hard" gets me through that time.
posted by gideonfrog at 6:40 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


"The only constant in life is change" - Heraclitus

And this is so true. Even just comparing "yesterday" to "today" there is change. Your experiences have changed since yesterday, possibly your views or beliefs have changed. Maybe fundamental views, or maybe something low stakes like your opinion of a celebrity.

Change should be embraced, not feared. Things can't improve without change. Change also opens the door to new experiences, which in turn leads to learning more about life, not only yours, but how others live too.

And, like you, I make spreadsheets for everything. If a decision has to be made that is beyond day-to-day matters, there is a spreadsheet for it. And sometimes I ditch the spreadsheets because you can't get bogged down with analysis paralysis which happens when you overly depend on the spreadsheets to make the decisions for you.

On that last part, I had a spreadsheet about different cities, deciding where to move to. Then one day I woke up, realized I would have to rebuild if I moved anywhere and while I'm not a huge fan of my current city, I would buy a house instead of moving. And no spreadsheets went into buying the house.
posted by Meldanthral at 7:35 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


It helps me to think about how excited past-me was for the change. I guess it's a reminder that the actively changing part is hard but the change is good. It's also fine to accept that there are things you will miss - rarely is something completely good with absolutely no downside. Sometimes it helps to plan some sort of celebration when you reach a goal to add a little positive boost to a time you may feel ambivalent about.
posted by momus_window at 8:44 AM on April 14


I once said to a friend, "Well, you know what they say: one door closes and another opens, or a window, or something?"

Friend: "Yeah, I would call an exorcist and a contractor if my house did that shit." Fair point, change is freaky and scary and feels wrong on a gut level not because it's instinct (though that happens too sometimes, and it's hard to tell the difference) but just because it's different.

I saw something (probably a tweet) once that pointed out that reluctance to change is a form of FOMO, but kind of a ridiculous one because choice always means missing out on something.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:49 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


It's kind of tweely psychedelic, but Pink Floyd's Chapter 24 is calming and gently hopeful about change.

For the "I made a huge change, too late for regrets" feeling, Old Man Luedecke's I Quit My Job says it best.
posted by scruss at 9:52 AM on April 14


I always quote Duke Leto Atreides from Dune, right after he sold his oceanfront condo: "A person needs new experiences. It jars something deep inside, allowing them to grow. Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken."
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:16 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Better Things by Dar Williams
posted by aniola at 1:06 PM on April 14


Seconding Ecclesiastes (even as an atheist, I come back to this one often).

Other philosophy I think would have a lot of comforting wisdom surrounding change:
- the Stoics (I like Epictetus in particular)
- Zhuang Zi, a Taoist philosopher whose work contains a lot of themes around change, fluidity, boundaries, identity (this is probably a really bad description of Zhuang Zi... it's been a while since I read this stuff)
- Nietzsche (especially the concept of amor fati)

And my one non-philosophy answer:
The last time I had a big life change, I ended up spending a lot of time listening to the song "I have Confidence" from The Sound of Music (singing along made it even better). It is the perfect "hype myself up to accept change" song:

What will this day be like? I wonder...
What will my future be? I wonder...
It could be so exciting to be out in the world - to be free
My heart should be wildly rejoicing... oh, what's the matter with me?
I've always longed for adventure, to do the things I've never dared
Now here I'm facing adventure - then why am I so scared?
...
With each step I am more certain: everything will turn out fine
I have confidence the world can all be mine
They'll have to agree I have confidence in me
I have confidence in sunshine, I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which, you see, I have confidence in me

posted by chaiyai at 4:55 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


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