Fear of Change

  • By Moira McDougall
  • 15 Nov, 2015
Fear of Change blocks Transformation
Fear of Change blocks Transformation
Fear: painful emotion caused by impending danger or evil, state of alarm

Change: alteration; substitution of one for another, variety

(The Concise Oxford Dictionary)

During the past week I have seen two very different situations that have brought me to consider the Fear of Change, experienced both by others and myself.

In the first instance, I was visiting a person in the community who had engaged in an exercise program to promote balance and lower limb strength – the aim of which is to improve older peoples’ mobility and confidence so that they can safely live in their own homes independently.

Many of the elderly people I visit still live in the family homes where they raised their children, where they have experienced trials, tribulations, triumphs and great joy. The homes in which they have lived full and rich lives. Some are now alone, their partner having died or separated years ago. Their walls are adorned with family portraits and photos spanning generations, and memorabilia precious to them. Some homes are light and airy, others stuffy with curtains drawn. The homes take on the personalities of their owners and occupants.

Community Health workers may be the only external people to enter some homes, especially if the client does not have family living close by or friends who visit regularly. It is both a responsibility, and a privilege, not to be treated lightly.
This particular person lives alone, has multiple medical conditions and no family living in our city. It was clear to me that she was not managing the considerable upkeep of her large family home and her own health and well being, and I had been wondering how to be of best assistance to her, within the scope of my practice.

Her fear of change intervened.

At my most recent appointment she met me at the door, and told me she would not be inviting me inside, as she believed I had criticized her home – the home that her husband built for her and where she had lived all her married life.

She elaborated that she would live in her home for the rest of her life and that no-one would be able to force her out so long as she was coping.

I had not criticized her home. I had agreed with her when she had mentioned that there were mice in her lounge which she could not be rid of. She took my agreement as criticism, and must have then felt fear that I would set some actions in motion that could force her to accept help, or worse, present her with the notion that she would need to consider more manageable living arrangements.

Her Fear of Change caused her to reject beneficial action: the exercise program to help her stay in her own home!

The other circumstance is a friend going through a relationship break up. Raw emotions of grief and disbelief, if-only scenarios, wishing it were different. The shared home lovingly transformed over the years has now been sold. The garden is coming into its full summer glory, almost making a mockery of the hours spent visioning and planting. A new house has been bought, and awaits some loving attention. A new future beckons, with new opportunities for joy, for self-expression. Yet still there is the tug, the pulling backwards into what was. “I am scared of change. I want what is familiar”.

The Fear of Change holds us back, yet again.

“The events that transform us are usually not the things we would choose. As someone said, we never want to go through what we need to go through to become what we want to become.”

Andrew Matthews – Follow Your Heart.

Reflecting on these two situations I am left pondering where I am allowing the Fear of Change to influence my own decision making. Only by letting go of the shore will my boat have the freedom to sail!

What Fear is holding you back from Change?







Self Manage Chronic Pain

By Moira McDougall 14 Feb, 2017

I recently visited an elderly woman in her home, in my community therapy role. So much had been happening in her world. During the weeks since my last visit she had experienced some serious health challenges, and her brother had died.

How could I be surprised that she had not managed to continue with the exercise and walking programme we had started?

She was tired, heartbroken and wracked with guilt, describing herself as “full of self-pity” because she was mourning the loss of her dear brother. This had also reminded her of the grief she experienced when her sister died a year previously.

I sat and listened with my Whole Heart.

 I was not there to offer solutions, to slap a band-aid over her aching heart, to make light of her feelings. I told her I believed it was good, right and proper to feel such acute loss and to express it. How else do we recover from our deep wounds?

She told me about her family, her ancestors who had migrated to New Zealand from an Eastern European country, just before the time of the Depression. She spoke of a grandfather who worked many menial jobs to provide for his family of seven children. Her parents also worked hard to raise her and her many siblings – a labour of love which she reflected on with great gratitude. She spoke of one of her sisters who had endured many trials and tribulations only to finally triumph – and she now lives overseas. She spoke with love of her own children – their successes and challenges.

In the telling, she called all of her Ancestors into that small lounge. I could feel them standing around her. I told her that I believed that talking about our Loved ones brings them close.

I can recognise the entrenched belief that being occupied fully, being accountable for every minute spent at the expense of any form of pure relaxation, has been ingrained in our psyches. No wonder, then, that this dear soul believed she was “full of self-pity” because her thoughts kept turning to those she loved dearly who were no longer here, in physical form. Because she could not do it for herself, I offered her the gift of my time, so that she could express what her heart was longing to share.

When it was time for me to leave, she hugged me tightly and thanked me for “just listening”. I feel I was the recipient of the greater gift. I heard her heart sing!

Do you feel taking time to grieve is selfish? Do you believe it is a form of self-pity?

I welcome your comments.

By Moira McDougall 12 Jan, 2017

You are going to win! With these words spurring me on, how could I not be a winner!

This morning I set out on my morning run, and it was hot already. Along the way, I passed and greeted a mum on her early morning walk, pushing her two small children in their stroller. The older child called out to me as I passed them, “you are going to win!”. How could I not honour that proclamation? How could I even consider feeling tired or discouraged with those beautiful words ringing in my ears?

This set me thinking about the many times I feel discouraged, as if I am wading through sludge. I have a strong work ethic, and set myself tasks and deadlines. This works for me when I have a good idea about a desired outcome, because it keeps me on track and I can measure my progress. But what happens when I am not sure about what I want to pursue or produce?

I am marooned in indecision, in not knowing, what my ‘next step’ is. Do you experience this too?

Business and personal coaching works wonders in helping one to define a pathway, helping to break down goals into manageable steps, in order to reach the defined outcome. This supposes that one already KNOWS or at least has an idea of the desired outcome.

One beautiful practice I was invited to participate in, invited us each to choose a Word to define a theme to focus on through the new year ahead, and to choose four Supporting Words to cushion or supplement the Word.

I have chosen SURRENDER.

Nothing works easily when I am pushing uphill, trying to do it all alone. I am not giving up, just practising being present in the moment, experimenting with ‘flowing’ rather than being rigid.

My supporting words are Grace, Gratitude, Courage and Insight – all qualities I will need to call on and include in my daily living.

Which brings me back to the proclamation “You are going to win!” We are all winners when we focus on what inspires us, what gives us meaning, and practice living in the present moment. And when we have others cheering us on!

“You are going to win!” – how does that make YOU feel?

By Moira McDougall 02 Jan, 2017

I have a heavy heart moving into this new year. Endings and more endings, because I am grieving the loss of two people dear to me.

My sister Anne has dementia and she is sliding further into the space between here and there. While she is still physically present, I miss her intellect, her sharp wit, her full presence. She is my older sister. I have known her my whole life. I never imagined that I would not be with her ‘fully’. She was the drawcard for my move to live in Christchurch.

She always looked after my younger brother and I; we looked up to her and trusted her guidance. As the eldest child, she copped the authority of our parents, and she fought hard for her independence. She is super intelligent, and my brother and I had a hard time following after her at school. She chose her own path, and with her husband travelled to places I have only ever dreamt of.

Now, I call on all my parenting and therapy skills as I navigate our relationship. She can’t remember what she ate two minutes ago, or whether she has eaten at all. She can’t dress herself. Her spatial awareness is impaired – steps are a challenge, and she doesn’t recognise familiar objects. Loud noises and busyness upset her, and her tolerance levels are reduced. Soon, she will need to be placed into full time care, which seems like a jail sentence. Excepting, there is no parole to look forwards to.

My heart is breaking. How did her Soul choose this challenge in this Lifetime?


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