Change can be exhilarating, fun, nerve-wrecking, and often times, just plain scary. A scary thing about change, is that it asks us to step into the unknown. Even if we know where we’re moving, or who we’re going to be in a relationship with, or have some of the blanks filled in, we still haven’t experienced this exact change before. We don’t know how the future will unfold.
What we know is familiar. We often believe that what is familiar is safe, or even healthy.
What we don’t know is unfamiliar. We often assume that what is unfamiliar, is unsafe, or dangerous. But is this always true? What about when we become familiar with things that aren’t good for us, such as people, environments, behaviors, or habits?
If you’ve only known abusive relationships, the type of partner you choose may feel familiar, despite being a dangerous choice. If you hate your job, staying may feel more familiar than making a career move, or choosing to go back to school, which might give you more financial stability in the long run. If you’re addicted to porn, the normalcy of opening your laptop or scrolling on your phone may feel familiar, even though it is destroying your marriage. If you’re used to chaos and fighting, moving into an apartment that is calm and quiet may create anxiety despite being a healthier environment.
If you’re someone who constantly changes things in their life (jobs, relationships, places), then maybe the healthier, more unfamiliar thing will be to slow down and learn to stay for awhile.
When we are trying to grow into better versions of ourselves, have healthier relationships, and create lives that we want to be present in, this may be a question to ask yourself: Am I staying in this situation because it is familiar, or because it is actually good and safe for me and is pointing me in the direction I want to be going in? A similar question can be asked when we are feeling anxious about change: am I feeling anxious because this is a dangerous or unwise choice? Or am I feeling anxious because it’s new and unfamiliar?
These nuances aren’t always easy to parse out, as our lives are not always a series of clear cut decisions. Working through life transitions with the help of a counselor can provide space to ask and process these questions with someone as you take the courageous steps toward change.