We know when change has to happen. But we may be afraid of change and doubt we have got what it takes to change one lifeline for another. Because we may be left feeling all at sea. I know – literally. I live on a boat.
It is normal to be afraid of change. Problems can feel more predictable and less frightening than change. But change is necessary.
My home stands in a somewhat unique and precarious position in tidal waters of the Thames near London, UK.
Twice a day the boat rises with the tide. When the tide goes out, ropes ensure that it settles back into a certain position out of the water. Otherwise it may tip sideways, tumbling down into the river.
The mooring ropes I inherited have seen many a tide – in many places covered in thick moss, and offering ants a comfortable path straight to my front door.
The old ropes were my lifeline, literally.
But I found it difficult to trust the ropes, though clearly they had been doing their job well, all through high tides and floods and storms. They kept the boat safe. Yet, I no longer felt safe.
I was worried, just how long it would take for them to snap. I had no reference point, and everyone I asked appeared relaxed about it all.
My dilemma became increasingly clear:
- I needed safety and did not fully trust the old ropes.
- Neither did I trust myself to go through the process of changing them.
- I was afraid of the change I needed. And I was afraid of not making the change happen.
I was truly stuck, and with every high tide, major wash and storm forecast I felt my anxiety rise.
It became a choice between:
- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
- Overcoming my fear of change, trusting myself and just doing it.
With time I managed to turn down the volume of the voices of fear and false reassurance.
What I started to connect with, hear and embrace was my intuition.
Change was needed. Even if the ropes were still sea-worthy, the best way to make peace with the situation was to investigate, research and start to feel comfortable with the idea of change.
I started reading up on ropes, the right material, thickness, length and colour, the right knots. Then I made the purchase.
First step done. I felt proud, but still not confident enough to cut the old ropes and replace them with the new. The tide and overall weather conditions had to be right.
This change needed stable and predictable conditions.
I relented. I needed help.
Neighbours offered help and together we started to plan for the day. With a lot of kind explanations my knowledge and confidence grew:
- There were weights to be added to the ropes.
- The ropes needed to be tight with the right length, to withstand all kinds of pressure by the water and wind with flexibility and without snapping.
- I had not thought about my fenders, which were either full of water or of the wrong size.
- My knotting skills were, quite frankly, lacking skill and even basic knowledge.
I knew this was the way to go. Change was necessary and right. But I remained frightened.
The day came. Cutting the old ropes felt like a betrayal. But it also felt like cutting an umbilical cord. I needed to get on with the next chapter of my life as well as my boating life.
It all went well. But as the tide came in at night and my home rose with it, I was terrified as never before.
I needed to get through this. It was part of the process.
Instead of abandoning ship, doing a runner and coming back after the tide had gone down, I went outside, with a torch.
It was dark; it was cold. Why had I ever signed up for this?!
I inspected the movement of the ropes, the knots, the fenders, the water, my boat, my home, my heart, my fear, my terror. I calmed down.
I observed it all and let it be.
It was all part of making change happen:
- trusting my intuition,
- knowing when the time is right,
- asking for help if necessary,
- and trusting myself all the way.
For change to happen, you need to hold on tight.
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Karin Sieger is a UK-based psychotherapist and writer. All rights reserved © Copyright Karin Sieger. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Article do not substitute medical advice.