Ever watched “The Endless” – it’s a great film, whacked out for sure, but full of thought-provoking metaphors about life.
There’s a line in it I really resonate with –
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”
I believe therapists are in the business of helping other people change, and to do this we must change ourselves often to appreciate just how difficult it is. I believe we all want to change, there’s an impulse inside us all urging us to do it, but it’s hard to break the pull of gravity drawing us back to our old familiar selves. Therapy is about helping people manage that tension between wanting to change and being held back by internal resistance. This resistance is complex, but a large part of it is fear of the unknown – that’s the deep-seated fear that keeps us from going on a journey in the first place, and it’s always easier to fall back to the comfort of familiarity – our attachment to the old familiar routines that define who we are in our everyday life.
The challenge is deceptively huge, we know we can’t solve our problems by doing the same thing over and over (the insanity argument!) so if we are to succeed, we must do things differently, i.e. we must change the way we do things – but even when we muster up the courage to change we find it near impossible to unshackle ourselves from the loops of our lives with which we’ve become so familiar. This hidden metaphor in the film – fear & familiarity – is a double whammy that seems intent on keeping us just the way we are!
I wonder if breaking free from familiarity is what makes it easier for an immigrant to make a better go of it in a foreign country. They are forced to break out of their old patterns, think new thoughts, and do new things!
Sometimes it takes catastrophe (or the threat of it) to shake us out of our old familiar habits and into a new way of looking at life. The funny thing is we now have so many stories from people who have faced the unknown, have been changed by it, and are immensely grateful for the experience, I wonder why we still fear it.