Why I Was Afraid of Change & How I Came to Embrace It

Why I Was Afraid of Change & How I Came to Embrace It

In order to grow, you must give up the struggle to remain the same, and learn to embrace change at all times.
–Michael A.  Singer

The only thing more frightening than believing that nothing will ever change is believing that everything always will.

I think my entire life, thus far, could be summarized as a journey of learning to accept the idea of constant, inevitable change as not only a truth of life, but a positive, exciting truth of life.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

My earliest memory of change phobia was at age 7, when we were still in the Ukraine. My parents had just announced that we would be going to a magical place called Toronto.

I tried to wrap my head around a place that was a 14 hour plane ride away; a place which was gray on a map which featured a full-colour former Soviet Union and left the rest of the world an incomprehensible, grey blob.

The second big wave of change fear came to me in my teenage years. I had found a boy that I thought was the love of my life. I thought we were going to be together forever, better than the movies. Certainly, I thought, better than my parents.

I thought I’d finally found the fairy tale that so many of us are always looking for.

To my shock and horror, things began to change. He began to pay attention to other things. Things that were not me.

This was intolerable. Not only had he been distracting me from having to deal with my own issues, but he had also broken my illusion of “forever.” Things had changed. Forever became a cruel lie.

I walked around with this bitterness far before the relationship ended. I decided that the only way for me to be happy was to find something solid, something that would never change.

In my next relationship, the same thing happened, only much quicker. I was devastated.

I remember running across an article in National Geographic that talked about the fading of passionate love. It said that the chemicals released in the first year or so of a relationship eventually fade away. The body cannot support releasing so many endorphins.

After this period of time, a different chemical is released – one of intimacy and closeness.

I cried. I raged. I researched. I found a source that claimed that about 1% of relationships manage to stay passionate and develop intimacy. I clung to this statistic for dear life.

I applied this same reasoning to my hobbies. By my early twenties, I’d managed to reach intermediate level at electric guitar, acoustic guitar, photography, drawing, singing, yoga, poetry, sculpting, knitting, cooking, jogging, and writing.

My bookshelf was a vast array of every subject you can imagine. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich stared suspiciously at the Bhagavad-gita. Revolution For the Hell of It awkwardly sandwiched itself between Advanced Calculus and Behavioural Economics for Business Executives.

I was a jack of all trades, but a master of none. And why? Because every time I reached resistance, I backed off. If it was right, I thought, it wouldn’t come with resistance. That which was truly perfect for me would never change. It would start blissful, be blissful, and end blissful.

I was looking for comfort, certainty, and stability. I was looking for a womb.

And yet, like all wombs, every single one I squeezed myself into eventually came to its expiration time and began to push me out into a whole new world.

And then, I would panic and try to crawl back in.

Like this, I’d managed to have surface-level relationships, surface-level hobbies, and surface-level interactions with the world around me. I tried to construct a perfect, controllable, predictable world for myself. I tried to mold others into what I needed them to be and mold myself into who I needed to be to earn my own respect.

Needless to say, I was miserable.

It seemed to me that the world was a cruel and horrible place where nothing could possibly be enjoyable in the long run. Everything became tired, weary, and used up. Everything including me.

I think what I feared more than becoming tired and annoyed by a lover was him becoming tired and annoyed by me.

I think what I feared more than becoming bored with a hobby was reaching a level when I could stand failing or, worse, entering an environment where I would be, comparatively, a novice.

This life of fear was not sustainable.

On a chilly evening in March, change came knocking at my door. It brought a friend. It brought the Grim Reaper.

There we sat for a few hours. Change and Death explained to me that one of them would, from now on, lead my life for me. There could not be any more life without change.

It was a long conversation.

I later realized that it was actually a mental breakdown.

At the time, it just felt like a choice.

It was as if life had been trying to birth me for years and I, frightened of the new world outside the birth canal, tried to crawl back into the womb of familiarity.

You can only do that for so long before you run out of oxygen. I had to let go or die in there.

After that first decision to change, more and more changes came. First, it was my attitude towards my body. I stopped hating it, plucking it, waxing it, dying it, altering it, and judging it. Then, it was my attitude towards what I ate, what I drank, what I said.

It was almost like change and I had fallen in love in a hopeless place.

Soon enough, it came knocking every day. It still does.

I’m wrong all the time. Change urges me to observe my assumptions. I fail all the time. Change urges me to observe my actions. I fall out of inner peace all the time. Change urges me to observe my thoughts.

It took me a long time to adjust to this, to living without any real clue as to what’s going on and being okay with that. It took me a long time to surrender control and, some days, it’s still very hard.

If I could relay just one lesson to you, it’s that change is not an option.

We can say that we want to stay the same and we can try to keep things the same, but change is the way of life. We grow bored because the change has already begun. We can either get on board or we can resist it.

I’ve also learned that, no matter what tales my mind tells me about how horrible change will be, it always ends up being for the better in the long run. No matter how much I try to control things, things continue to go as they go.

I can either get on board with what’s already happening or I can resist it.

And now, I realize that the reason that only 1% of people have passionate and intimate relationships is that I’m not the only one who was scared. Everyone’s scared, so they’re trying to keep from evolving. To get a relationship that’s both, you have to sacrifice a relationship which is just one of them. And that’s scary. That’s mind-boggling. And it’s also the only way.

To pick up a handful of gold, you still have to drop your handful of feathers. To receive a bowl full of soup, you must first empty the bowl of rocks.

Every change takes sacrifice, especially change for the better; and the quality of your life will always equal your ability to sacrifice as much as you can as often as you need to.

What change is already happening in your life? What is already calling for you to simply surrender? And is it really, truly so difficult to just let go?

Photo by János-Csongor Kerekes

Vironika Tugaleva

Vironika Tugaleva is an author, speaker, people lover, reformed cynic, and a different kind of spiritual teacher. She helps people heal their minds and discover their inner strength. You’re invited to read more about Vironika and her inspiring book The Love Mindset.

Latest posts by Vironika Tugaleva (see all)

33 Comments

  1. What a fabulous story told with authenticity and courage – bravo!

    Reply
  2. Hi Vironika
    Thanks for your post and for sharing your journey.
    I generally welcome change into my life, but I work with a lot of clients who are scared of it. And that’s not to say that big changes like the one I am going through at the moment – quitting my job to work for myself full time – are not both exciting and terrifying!(there can be such a fine line sometimes)
    The surrender part for me is really allowing myself to feel completely supported and held through the process, to know that there is help there for me always. I just need to ask. Letting go of the ‘I’m on own, I have to do this all myself’ mindset.
    For me, the letting go itself is not so difficult, but it’s the remembering to do it that is!
    Thanks for the reminders.

    Reply
    • Yes, Emma, what a wonderful addition. We do need to let go again and again. There is some crazy part of us that wants to run down the up escalator, only because we were doing it for so long. There’s some nostalgia in senseless suffering. We must remember that authentic living is not to stop and be bored, it is to run up the up escalation. :)

      Reply
  3. The more things change, the more I rely on that which is changeless within. When we let go of the past and its’ fear-mongering, the strength to let go of resistance and accept life as it unfolds is always available to us. As you pointed out, it about the choices we make… thanks for sharing your journey Veronika.

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  4. The timing of your blog could not be more perfect. I have just manifested a wonderful work opportunity with someone whose wellness course I am taking and also an opportunity to teach English and make some money doing what I love. She is taking me under her wing but has pointed out a lot of changes I must do in order for her to give to me and for me to evolve. I need to get with the times and get a cell phone and texting as an entrepreneur and I need to keep visions of my ideal goal weight and act and feel as if it is there because I am representing her and others need to know that her methods work. There are a couple of other things too. All of this is overwhelming and means a lot of changes and I am feeling a lot of emotions but at the same time she is helping me to move forward and needs what is best for her to succeed as well. I know that once I embrace these changes I will thank her one day. I am working at changing my attitude and being happy for these wonderful opportunities. I can certainly relate to you.

    Reply
    • There is, of course, the discomfort of coming out of the womb and then there is the discomfort of crawling back into it. Deciphering between the two is, truly, the path of life. I hope you do whatever is most respectful and loving to your own inner guidance.

      Reply
  5. Despite what I might say (or have said) about being open to change, this has been my life. I have moved slowly in the right direction in the last couple of years and it has made a difference. But I still want to learn to embrace it since the only thing we can control are our responses to change. Thank you-I needed to read this.

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  6. This was awesome!!! I loved it.

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  7. Hi

    I am invited to speak to an audience of Bankers on the 24th January and the topic is “Pearls of Wisdom” – Learnings from the life. As I read your post, it was continuously reminding me of my own journey, where for a change, I embraced change – right from the time when I lost my father to a tragic accident, when I was barely 18 to doing MBA when I was fully settled in my professional life to leaving the job at the age of 50 to do something on my own and when not satisfied, within 6 months, got back to a professional career.

    Change is a phenomenon that if not embraced, it changes you forever.

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  8. Wow, I needed this today! I feel like I can truly say I’m emptying my bowl of rocks for a bowl full of soup… a refreshing, new soup that I’ve never tried before. It has been difficult to let go, but I have to keep moving forward, keep changing and keep growing. I really enjoyed this post. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. Great post. The “jack of all trades” idea really resonated with me. I find myself hating change now, desiring to make my life as stable as possible. Trying to create change and constantly being told that people are “comfortable” with the way things makes you want to give up. I probably need to get myself out of situations and people who like the status quo.

    Reply
    • It becomes a kind of addiction, doesn’t it, Tonya? When I find myself grasping for material comfort, stability, or cake, I always remind myself – you can’t get enough of what you don’t really need. You can’t fill a love sized hole with money, donuts, or Ikea furniture. It always helps me move on. :o) Of course, finding a community of people who think the same way is immensely helpful as well.

      Reply
  10. I agree that things are always changing and that the only thing that is constant is change.
    Having faith that everything will turn out for the greater good no matter the change, helps. I find with my art business my clients change, my work changes, and my output changes.
    Peope like to see fresh and new things and ilove new ideas. I’m embarking on making some animal scupltures for my mosaic garden which is a new direction. Change is exciting. I would love to travel the world at least twice a year to experience changes in other countries. Thanks for your post , it was helpful in terms with further embracing developments.

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  11. I realise the same thing every day, and every day I am still surprised that I have to learn this lesson over and over again! Brilliant post. Thank you!

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  12. Thanks for sharing your story. Change comes in many forms and we can often react to it with fear. The alternative is to be active in creating and seeking change. To be an adventurous spirit rather than a victim of circumstance. But that means we have to accept a little risk and leave the safety of the comfort zone.

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  13. Vironika, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: your writing blows my mind! It’s beautiful, deep, very deep, emotional, poetical, comes from your heart as opposed to mind, which is not a common thing these days…. It uncovers your Spirit and your character in a magical, not boring way. It makes reading a real pleasure, as opposed to hard work. You are truly blessed with this gift. There are many writers out there, some are even wonderful, but not as many who have — what my English teacher once called — a God-given gift to write…. You my dear, most certainly do!

    Reply
  14. Loved reading your post and I believe change is part of the cycle of life, like the leafs change colors and fall off a tree we must also flow with the tides and be open to new opportunities to let love in and engage in experiences that stretch us beyond our beliefs to make way for our light to shine.

    I have been stepping outside of the comfort zone all my life, and sometimes just for the sheer joy of it and other times because I have felt stuck and needed change to grow and just when it least expected a new change has come into my life recently and often when I most desire.

    I think that we learn a lot about ourselves from following our own nudges and our inner calling to experiences that call us in and our heart wish to experience and even if we don’t follow them we still learn to understand why and how we can arrive at being happy with where we are and who we are right now.

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    • “Following our own nudges” is just perfectly phrased, Ana. This, above all, is what I find myself teaching people, again and again. It is the most profound lesson.

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  15. Change is beneficial in that it helps us to step out of our comfort zone. It is too easy to stay trapped and confined to what we are accustomed to because we are too afraid to take a risk. But the taking of risks is rewarding – how will you live a more fulfilled life if you fail to explore different things? Embrace change and live a life blessed with rich experiences – you owe it to yourself :-)

    Reply
  16. This is one profound piece of writing! Hard to know what makes us resistant to change, other than our hard wired longing for patterns and consistency. At some point Vironika met her own demons, and they made peace with her self loving nature. Glad it went the way it did! :)

    Reply
  17. Wow this is so me. All my life I’ve been scared of change, scared of my light rather than my darkness.I’m perpetually drifting from one interest to another hoping to find my true calling. But something shifted in me this year and I’m learning to follow the synchronocities at play in my life…which is one way I came across you Vironika. Every day is a new adventure into myself and allows changes to bring me to my destiny.

    Reply
    • What a beautiful comment, Savannah. Isn’t it beautiful? I think it is no coincidence that the word inspiration has the latin root “Spiro” which means spirit. There is something else guiding you, which is the most frightening, confusing, beautiful, and exciting thing. I’m happy for you, my friend. Congratulations on finding yourself.

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  18. Your friends, Change and Death, were right. You cannot experience life without change. You are wise in recognizing that the past is a womb from which you will be constantly be born.

    My changes are also about accepting. I guess that you and I are a lot alike in that regard. I am learning to achieve my goals with renewed passion in spite of encountering resistance.

    Thank you for writing your post, Vironika. Change is your path to rebirth. You are helping so many people with the lessons that you have learned.

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  19. Change is the only constant in this world. I am facing a lot of changes in my life at the moment that are making me feel rather uncomfortable. Reading this helped put my mind back on track and gave my heart a sense of calm. Thank you for reminding me that I am human and it is a gift that we can share.

    Reply
  20. Hi Vironika
    I really really appreciate your courage you shown in sharing your story. There is also a reason to love this story, As a 40 year old jack of all & master of none still very keen to get succeed, now inspired with your story.
    Thank you very much.

    Reply
  21. I can totally relate to this, it took me a while to get used to change, The way for me was acceptance, just accept, embrace and go with the flow, knowing that I was being guided and would be safe, no matter what ,

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  22. Hi there, great writing, sad and emotional but real. I have been also going through the “change” feeling. I have been in my current state for 15 years, wife passed, 3 children all grown , left the state. I have a great job and weather here is pretty good. But I am not content!. I continue to feel and think that I should move back East, New England or some place? I have too many memories of my family here. But then, I feel I am running away from my depression and my being alone. I have engaged in a counselor, she is good but I still feel like I need to be content more. I have tried to go on trips to other states and I am excited to go then I either do not go or turn around when traveling. Pretty silly I think. But it still hurts to have no one around. Old friends are not friendly, most do not know how to take me thus they do not interact with me or return my calls, I am not depressed as much, just seem to be out of synch!. I continue to take good care of my health and body. Eat well, work out 3 times a week, not over weight, volunteer, and teach classes also. I can keep myself busy, but not content, when I slow down or stop. Well, I would take any suggestions, from any of you, on ways to be more content, it should not be this difficult to feel good. Thanks

    Reply
    • I think the most profound description of depression I’ve ever seen was from an anonymous source in my inbox the other day. He said: “Depression is when your mind tells you that the world is dangerous and wraps a huge part of you in a protective blanket. You don’t feel fear, but you don’t feel joy. You’re not safe, you’re imprisoning yourself.”

      Fear tells us what the next step is. Whatever you urge for, but put off as impossible – that is your salvation.

      <3

      Reply
  23. Thank you for sharing what you went through. Inspiring, and motivating.

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  24. it was incredible.Ive always been trapped in wrong relationship just because i think if i let this person go,i would die of loneliness.
    this article helped me a lot.thank you

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  25. i Simply loved it.
    really,,, change is a must.

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  26. Wow, Veronika, what a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing this intimate story with us, it really touched me. You’re right, Change is inevitable, so how do you distinguish the desire for change from Resistance? When you started on a new project, eg. knitting. electric guitar, at some point you encountered Resistance. So inevitably, you would drop the hobby and pick up a new one, which involves Change.
    I agree with you, Change is usually good, but how do you work out whether the desire to Change is because the old hobby has become “too hard” (ie. Resistance), or because it just wasn’t “Your Thing” and you need to try something else?
    Thanks again for sharing :)

    Reply
  27. Thank you so much. What a wonderful article!!! I am going through a lot right now and am really soul searching for who I really am … Your article was just what I needed and I have saved it to my computer so on those days I am struggling more then others I can read it and it can help me take a minute and well … breath deeply, drop my shoulders, and relax. Change is life and is a must. Thank you again for sharing

    Reply

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