I was struck by an odd thought the other day. It was a beautiful end of summer day…a little cooler, low humidity. The perfect day for a casual bike ride with a friend. She is a great friend but has her moments of anxiety. She had a new bike that was a bit more complicated than her last one.
After watching her stop pedaling while shifting I explained the importance of pedaling while changing gears. As I rode behind her I watched as she tried to do just that. But more often than not what happened is she would be pedaling along, start shifting and when she heard the “ka-chunk” of the chain moving from one gear to another she would stop pedaling. Her anxiety got the best of her as the unknown and attention grabbing noise caused her to stop what she was doing, concerned about pressing ahead.
I realized that this was a lot like the change process in therapy. So often clients begin to make changes…important changes. But change means going to new and unknown places. It means that foreign “noises” catch our attention and derail us from moving forward. Those noises can be feelings of anxiousness and discomfort. They can be the unexpected reactions of others impacted by our change.
The unfortunate side effect of those pauses is that they stop our momentum. Momentum is often exactly what is needed to carry us past our fear of the unknown and into the place of change where we want to arrive. Too often we use the pause as time to let our fear build and retreat to the place we perceive as safe…the place we started. But we are trying to change for a reason…to get to a better place.
The next time you want to change gears…on your bike or in your life, recognize that there will be unexpected noises as you make change and pedal through them. You’ve already invested so much energy to create the momentum…let it carry you to where you want to be.