Monday, March 8th, 2021

R Shopper Columns


What keeps us from changing is not usually having
the right information or knowing what to do.

What keeps many of us from changing is often the fear of change, of losing control, of losing self in the change, of uncertainty, and whether or not we have the desire to make the change.

The barriers to change such as changing jobs or making relationship changes involve internal and external barriers.

One of the external barriers for some of us may be financial. For example, if we feel 'stuck' in an unhealthy marriage, we may be reluctant to leave because we believe that we cannot make it financially without our partner.

At high school graduation time, my parents did not know whether or not I was going to graduate. I did not study and most of the time I did not take my books home. So I did not receive the best grades.

Fortunately, I did graduate and went to college. Later in life, I decided to work on my doctor's degree. It took a year of struggling with the decision before I finally applied. The struggle was with my internal barrier, which was not feeling smart enough to handle the work.

I forgot the reason I received lower grades was not my intelligence but the fact I did not study. So every time I try something that is academic, I have to struggle with my own self-image. What I believe about myself can become an internal barrier.

One of the internal barriers could be our fear of change. Danaan Parry in The Essene Book of Days, illustrates our fear of change with an illustration from the circus. Imagine that you are swinging on a trapeze at the circus. You are swinging back and forth. A new swing is presented to you. This is where you want to go but there is a huge risk.

In order to get to the new swing, you have to let go of the swing you are on. For a while, you will be in the 'in-between' zone where there is no footing and no control. The 'in-between' is like Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to. The danger is that you could fall on your face. It can be so frightening that you refuse to let go of the old swing.

When we transfer the trapeze swing concept to our experience of change, we fear the 'no footing' time. Consequently, we elect to stay with the old swing because it is familiar even though it is not satisfying or healthy for us. It is like having an old car. There are a lot of problems with it, but at least we know what we have. If we sell it and buy another, we don't know what to expect.

Next month we will examine what we do when our security blanket is in the dryer.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700