New eras and our fear of change

By Alice Johnsen
KING Charles III has been crowned, the public holidays are over and the bunting flapping gently in the spring sunshine is but a distant memory.

With this new reign comes a new era which means, of course, we are moving on from the old, Elizabethan era.

Let’s widen this away from just being about the Monarchy. This applies to every type of change in our lives. Change is something most people resist by reflex because we are, at heart, creatures of habit. So, when something new comes along – a new school, a new member of staff, a new way of doing something that’s been done ‘like that’ for years – we are suspicious and sometimes we feel challenged. Our memories of the old ways focus on the positive and we tend to forget the bits of the old ways we didn’t like. We hanker back to the past.

It’s the fear of the unknown coupled with the mental effort, literally, of creating new habits in our heads, also known as meta-patterns. Our brilliant but slightly lazy brains get used to repeating things, so when we challenge them to new patterns, they don’t like it. That is, they don’t like it until those new patterns start to feel familiar, then it’s okay.

This is a helpful thing to know because change can feel unsettling and challenging. The fear of imminent change can seep into all bits of our lives and really throw us off course. But if we can remind ourselves that what we fear leaving behind us once felt new and threatening, perhaps we can accept the current threat with a more positive and flexible mindset?

By looking to change with an inquisitive mind, we will surely adapt more quickly. And, of course, however much we engage in the new way, the influence of previous habits or methods will not leave us. What we learn from doing something again and again will stay with us for ever. As we move through our lives, adapting and engaging with new things, the sum of those parts becomes our greater ability to thrive and influence. So, in some ways, we could say while things change on the surface, we bring the old along to meet the new in a way that means old habits really do die hard.

Alice Johnsen is a life coach. Phone: 07961 080513; visit

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