By: Marilyn L. Davis
“When the fear of staying the same is greater than the fear of change, people will change.” ~Author Unknown
Still Sitting on the Fence?
It’s amusing to me that ‘author unknown’ means it could be any of us. And in this case, I think it’s all of us in early recovery. We’re scared of staying in our addiction and scared of the unknown called recovery. What happens to many people is that they’re on the fence. Unfortunately, as my mentor told me, “All you get by sitting on the fence is splinters in your ass.”
Well, that just said it all.
Of course, he didn’t stop there – he never did. He’d get my attention and then ask me questions to help me see where I might be resisting, unwilling, or seemingly unable to change.
Deciding to Get Off the Fence
Not to label myself as your mentor, but to pass on the questions he asked me so that if you’re sitting on the fence, you can get off the fence, too.
- What and when do you choose not to change?
- What are the circumstances where you will continue to act from old behaviors, even when you know you do not like the outcomes?
- What are the circumstances where you stay stuck and do not change?
There are just as many reasons for sitting on the fence as there are people, so how you state your reasons for not changing might differ from others, but they tend to fall into the following categories: “I do not change because I…”
- Am afraid of success
- Am overwhelmed; you expect me to change too many aspects
- Believe that the way I do things is right
- Do not like people telling me what to do, even directions for change
- Don’t think my best will never be enough
- Don’t want to experience failure
- Fear the unknown
- Feel rushed; you expect me to change too fast
- Get angry when I have to change
- Like things the way they are
- Question whether you have the right to tell me what or how to change
- Think others will expect continued changes from me
These are all possibilities.
Stuck in Fear, So We Justify It
“I can attempt to stay on the fence. However, the problem is that the fence is a figment of my fear not a reality of my journey.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough
While you’re honest and admit that you have not liked all aspects of your life, you will sometimes stay stuck in the mind-set that prompted the problems in your life and not attempt to change.
Only when you are willing to replace rationalization and justification with healthy actions and the process that can help you change, will you change. Below are some of the ways you can stay stuck:
So, what do you do when you realize you are stuck, ambivalent about changing, or simply scared of changes? One alternative is to bring this up in your recovery support meeting to discuss with your other peers. They also face or have faced many of the same stumbling blocks in their recovery as you may now be experiencing.
They are a valuable resource and learning to use them as such gives you other perspectives on what, how, and why to change.
Furthermore, they are often encouraging and supportive of you when you are struggling with the conflicting emotions and opinions about change.
Ready to Pick a Side?
On the one hand, you know you need to change, but on the other, you are afraid that your changes won’t be good enough. When you talk about your ambivalence, you can hear yourself being conflicted. This can help you decide which side of the fence you will land on because walking the fence in the case of addiction vs. recovery is risky.
Going back to the quote, which side do you want to be on – staying the same, or overcoming your fear and changing?