In a June 5th, 2019 NPR (National Public Radio) airing, Amber Scorah, the author of Leaving The Witness, said “You can never have change without loss.” A few minutes later a friend said that she had eliminated a number of channels from her cable subscription. She was proud of herself for eliminating the opportunity to watch more television, then said “But there is a sense of loss.”
The occurrence of these two instances so close together triggered, in me, a desire to explore the concept of change as loss. Here’s what I discovered.
Change as loss
With change we are deciding to do something differently, to forego past practices. It’s natural that we would experience a sense of loss. We’re giving up what is familiar, what is comfortable and, at times, what we truly desire.
I enjoy food and when I’m not exercising regularly my taste in food runs to the least healthy options and oversized portions. To become more healthy…and feel better physically…I must forego what I enjoy, what I desire, and replace it with what initially has no appeal.
The key word there is initially. As I exercise more frequently I find that my body craves (desires) more activity. It also craves healthier foods…fruits, vegetables, nuts. When that happens I no longer feel a sense of loss, but one of gain. I feel healthier, stronger, more confident. I feel that it’s reflected in my posture…I don’t have a gut pulling my shoulders down.
What felt like a loss when I made the change to a healthier lifestyle is really a gain. More accurately, I didn’t lose anything I made an exchange and that exchange resulted in a gain.
Our natural tendency when we’re making a change is to experience thoughts that include words like “giving up [something], sacrifice, loss, deprivation.” While these feelings are natural and real to us, they are false messages. In essence, these feelings represent only one side of the coin. We’re not seeing the gain that exists when we flip that coin over.
The key, then, to overcome these feelings is to rename loss…to name it as it is, an exchange, an exchange in which you’re gaining more than you’re giving up.
The lesson is simple, the next time that you decide to make a change, as you experience feelings of loss, remind yourself that you’re making an exchange. In doing so, you’ll see what you’re going to gain from the exchange. Instead of feelings of loss and sacrifice you’ll experience excitement and desire for what you’re choosing to gain. Change is much easier when we remind ourselves of what we gain from making the change.
Indeed, your commitment to making the change intensifies, your success rates soars and your confidence grows. You just hit the trifecta of life. Make your decisions to change conscious choices, not emotional reactions to the situation you’re facing. For it’s only in conscious choice that we can see the potential for gain. Emotional decisions are almost always triggered by avoidance of pain.
For our kids
As the kids in your life struggle with change, ask them “What will you gain by making the change?” Then ask “Is that what you really want?” If it’s what they really want, then there is no loss, there is gain. As they come to realize that, it’ll be easier for them to make a conscious decision.
Once they’ve made their decision consciously, remind them that emotional decisions are reactions to what they’re feeling and are almost always acts of avoidance instead of acts of gain. In this way you help them discover that change is the path to gain.
If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program.