It’s officially autumn. The leaves are turning stunning shades of reds, browns and oranges. The mornings are crisper and the evenings are arriving earlier than expected. We’re the opposite side of the year to spring and yet somehow autumn always seems like the most obvious time for change to me. Maybe I’m still in tune with the start of the new school year, but there’s something that makes autumn feel like a great time for a fresh start.
However, for many, change is not a welcomed thing. As humans, we like routine. We like to bed in a process for how we ‘do life’. And even if that means we are stuck in a mundane cycle of activity / a job we’re barely satisfied with / a relationship that’s comfortable at best, we’d still rather the familiarity of those things than the unknown alternatives. I find this fear of the unknown is why many of my clients dislike the prospect of change.
Our brain is constantly looking for reference points from the past to help us make the best decision going forwards. It doesn’t have to look at a bus for a prolonged period of time to understand what it is, how it works and how it is of use. It does a very quick scan of our memory to find a reference point so in a millisecond it knows what it is and we hop on board.
Our brain doesn’t like uncertainty, and if it doesn’t have a reference point from the past it can make us feel a little less comfortable. If presented with a choice, one of which is less than thrilling but familiar, and a completely new choice that would lead us down an untrodden path, it will tend to steer you to the mundane familiar as that’s a safer option. After all, our unconscious serves to protect us, so why would it make us feel great about taking risks?
However, if we only ever listened to our unconscious we wouldn’t grow, flourish, challenge ourselves or make wonderful things happen.
Sometimes we need to thank our unconscious for trying to protect us by promoting routine and familiarity, but then step out of our comfort zones anyway – to where the magic happens. The saying goes, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.” And it’s completely true. We stay living an unsatisfied existence simply because we don’t know what it would be like to do anything different. We have no reference point for a more stimulating or fulfilling option, so we simply don’t explore it.
This autumn, as the leaves start to fall and the earlier nights draw in, think about whether there are changes you’d like in your life that you wrote off simply because it would take you outside of familiarity. Nothing is permanent. You can dip your toe in exciting new waters and if the temperature doesn’t feel right you can come back on to the safe shore. OR if you feel motivated or inspired by the taster, you could jump right in, splash around and see what the alternative brings you.
And if you need help taking the leap, or working out what to do with your exciting new uncertainty, well that’s what I’m here for.