chanGe – Go Nuts is the 6th in a series of 7 blog posts on managing your fear of change or transitions based on my C-H-A-N-G-E method.
It’s about doing something fun to release the tension associated with change – do something that will make you feel confident and powerful.
Have you experienced any of these signs when impending change is on the horizon: indigestion (or worse), panicked thoughts, an inability to sit still, and emotions on steroids? These very uncomfortable feelings seem to be telling you the same thing: don’t allow the change to happen. But that would leave you stuck in a situation you know you need to get out of. So what can you do?
Why We Fear Change
In my blog post “Why Do We Fear Change If It Is Just Part of Life,” I wrote about how the brain tries to control your fear of change. I also introduced you to skills that can help you manage that fear of change. These are my essential CHANGE skills. In this post I will discuss the fifth skill in the method:
- C—Control Negative Thoughts
- H—Have Confidence in Yourself
- A—Allow yourself to Freak Out
- N—Narrate Your Own Story
- G—Go Nuts
- E—Evaluate What You Are Feeling
Change Creates Tension
All those symptoms—stomach issues, panic, fidgetiness, and emotionality—come from the tension that change creates. I probably don’t need to tell you that our bodies, brains included, don’t like change. The funny thing is, though, to change is to be human. A newborn differs considerably from a toddler, who in turn differs from a teenager. As our bodies change, our minds learn how to work with them.
We can use that innate need to learn to grow emotionally, too. Without change, we would never learn. Without learning, we would continue repeating past mistakes.
But just like our muscles can stiffen as our bones grow, our bodies still feel tension when our environment changes, whether that change happens to us or we need it to happen so we can lead a more fulfilled life.
So how do we relieve the tension? By choosing to go nuts.
Your Life Is Your Own Movie
How often have you watched a movie about a person who lives a rigid life? If that person didn’t change, the movie would be over in fifteen minutes and you’d lament that you’ll never get those fifteen minutes back. Instead, the movie is about how that person changes. Yes, there are struggles, even failures, but there are also triumphs.
The difference between your life and a movie, though, is that you are in control, not the director. Remember how I talked about narrating your own story the other week? That’s what you’re doing now and you’re at the part where the character has to make a decision: keep life the same or go nuts and make it different.
I say go nuts.
Feel Confident and Powerful
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
George Bernard Shaw
Going nuts is about doing something fun to wildly release that energy.
Is going nuts the same as freaking out [link]? No. Freaking out is about processing sadness, anger, and other negative feelings associated with the change you are considering or that is impending. Going nuts is about finding the joy in that change. This is where you’ll find more confidence and power to make it through.
Want my secret to the icing on the cake for this stage? Whatever you do to go nuts, it should push your comfort zone a little bit.
When I was in my 20s I was invited to a white water rafting weekend with a girlfriend. I said I would join her for the weekend, but there was no way I was going to raft down a raging river.
However, once I got there, the excitement and enthusiasm of the other participants was contagious and I swallowed my fear and got in that raft.
Pushing Your Boundaries…in a Fun Way
White water rafting was certainly not my idea of fun, but it was fun once I tried it. I rafted that raging river twice that weekend. I still think back to that heart stopping ride and recall the feeling of triumph and exhilaration when it was over. I still dream of the day I’ll hop in a raft and face a raging river again.
Pushing Your Boundaries When You’re Older Than 25
Depending on where you are in life, white water rafting and similar adventure activities may frighten you because of the obvious physical danger involved. When I talk about going nuts, you don’t have to put yourself in harm’s way. Going nuts by having fun means doing something a little crazy – a little out of your comfort zone – something that would surprise your family and friends. It looks different for everybody. Here are a few ideas outside of the adventure realm:
- Dying your hair purple
- Joining a local community theatre club
- Riding in a hot air balloon
- Buying clothing outside your usual style
- Travelling somewhere you’ve never been before
- Playing silly games with friends and family, like Twister or Two Burritos
- Jumping through a sprinkler on a hot summer day
- Buying a typewriter (yes, a typewriter) and banging out stories on it
There are so many possibilities! It just has to be something that gets your heart pumping and brings on the feeling of child-like enthusiasm.
Even Dating Again Counts
In my early 50s, when my marriage and relationship of 35 years ended, I was so unsure of myself. On some level I was convinced that I was not dateable let alone lovable as a 50-something with an average body.
I needed to defeat the negative chatterbox that was feeding my insecurities. So, I went nuts and jumped into the 50s dating scene.
Mind you, I hadn’t dated since I was 17 years old. It was scary but I had a lot of fun meeting guys for coffee or a drink. I had great conversations. I started understanding my sexuality. This wasn’t as exhilarating as white water rafting but it had the same affect – it quieted my negative chatterbox and my confidence grew. Yes, I kissed a few frogs, but I had fun!
Fun Isn’t Only for Kids
As we grew up, we were often told to “stop behaving like children and get to work.” But guess what? The adults in our lives still had fun, whether it was by visiting their friends, going bowling, playing baseball, or catching the latest movie. If the “fun=childishness” guilt monster is gnawing at you, remember these facts:
- Having fun reduces cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Having fun increases serotonin, which is essential for good sleep.
- Having fun can increase your creativity, because you actually learn better if learning is fun.
- Having fun keeps you feeling young—remember the childlike wonder I was talking about earlier?
- Having fun may increase your willingness to socialize at a time in your life when you might otherwise retreat into your shell.
- Having fun helps create more positivity, because the more you start enjoying yourself, the less you will think about the other crap.
- Having fun gives you an opportunity to practice living in the now in a fun way. This is particularly useful if you are struggling with mindfulness. While you are having fun, it’s hard to think about other things that might be stressing you.
- Having fun is energizing. You are in the moment, feeling joy instead of the dread you may be feeling about your need to make the change. The energy of joy can also improve your productivity.
Ultimately, going nuts by having fun in a new way will also help you see your impending change from a fresh perspective. You may even come to embrace it! But there’s no point in holing up and worrying about it. As you know about me by now, change has been the cornerstone of my life. I’m here to tell you that you can make it through.