My son loved his play kitchen when he was a toddler. His toy groceries, pots, and pans came to life for him, so he would bake cakes, fry up eggs, and offer me and my husband dinner, which usually consisted of waffles, a chicken leg, asparagus, and a side of fries – and chocolate milk.
As he got older, he played with the kitchen set less and less. But the thought of donating it terrified him. Especially since his world turned upside down in the Pandemic. One day in 2019, he was in kindergarten, playing with his friends. The next, he was taken home, away from his friends and school, for many, many months – and had no idea why.
As he neared 6 and 7 and he went back to somewhat normal life, he still clung to what he knew, refusing to make any changes. And that meant we could not give away a single toy or book without drama. Despite telling him we wanted to make room for new toys and games – and bring happiness to another child – he wouldn’t budge. And so the toys collected dust and took up room.
I get it. Change is hard. Even when it’s good for us. Even when it’s worth it. Even for adults. (TWEET THIS!)
Change requires us to lead the status quo behind. And that makes us uncomfortable. The status quo is what we know. It’s why moving cities and developing a new routine is hard. It’s also why seasoned leaders sometimes have a tough time embracing a new paradigm of emotionally intelligent and human-centered leadership. Even though our brains know we might land up in a better place, our hearts don’t want to let go. And our brains are wired to exert the least amount of effort on actions and activity – change requires us to think harder again, for lack of a better phrase!
Change means we risk failure. We may not know how to expertly navigate the change. What if we do it “wrong”? What if we cause more harm than good? What if we look like an idiot? What if we don’t know the next right step to take? This often happens to people trying to strengthen their empathy. What if I offend you with all my questions? What if I appear weak? What if someone walks all over me? All valid fears to feel – but also myths about what empathy really means!
Our brains understand the need and desire for change. But it doesn’t make it any less scary and hard.
So I invite you to calm your heart when facing change. We should allow ourselves to feel the emotions associated with it fully. Denying them is pointless and counterproductive. We can grieve the loss of the status quo or our idea of comfort by focusing on all we gain when we change. And we can seek support as we make the journey – and celebrate achievements along the way by measuring success.
My son has eventually learned the power of decluttering to make room for new interests. He has learned how happy his old toys can make another child. And yes, he gets half the money if we sell the items – no one said you can’t incentivize change!
The only way to live, evolve, and grow is to experience and embrace change. The alternative is to stay stuck and stop learning. And really, who wants that? What is the point of life if you live and work that way?
Photo credit: Magnet.me on Unsplash