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AMPLIFICATIONS: Fear of change

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By Monday, Mar 4, 2019 Viewpoints

Buddhist teachings tell us that suffering comes from desire. While there are all manner of subsets on that theme, the one foremost in my mind these days is fear. I’m sure it is because I will soon be looking down the scalpel at a total knee replacement and am not exactly looking forward to it. But I have also been thinking about how much fear figures into our ability to make changes, especially as we grow older.

Change is never easy, but it is easier for most of us at 20 than it is at 50 or 60. In my youth I could live out of a backpack—and sometimes did. At 19 it was nothing to throw what I had into some boxes and leave them with a friend and spend the summer as a cook in Ireland before traveling for a few weeks. I could change boyfriends with ease because I did not have decades of bad dates and broken relationships under my belt. I didn’t fear much of anything because I didn’t have a clue as to how much was on the line if things went awry.

And that’s the rub, isn’t it? We fear that which can go wrong. We may desire change, but the journey is just too bumpy for some of us to handle. I have always thought that is why people stay in abusive relationships or in unfulfilling jobs, and it gets so much harder to make that leap of faith once middle age sets in. I have friends who are calcifying in their outlooks and their actions. I see their worlds getting smaller and their opinions more narrow.

I have a friend who is truly one of the most brilliant men I have ever met. He is logical and capable and suffers from one of the most debilitating anxiety disorders I have ever seen, yet seems unable to address it. This is a man who used to ski and go to concerts and the theater and now has trouble making plans because he is never sure if he will be up to it. It’s a tough and lonely way to live, and is sometimes hard to witness, but I understand his reluctance to make a change.

I know. I made a big change last summer and it took me a year to decide to do so. Weight has always been a pressing problem for me. I was a month premature and weighed 8 and a half pounds. I probably would have killed my mother had I gone full term. I was short, had rolls of fat and no hair or eyelashes; I always imagined I looked like Winston Churchill. I am sure it only took one look at infant me to see a future of starvation diets and self-esteem issues.

A chubby child, I became a curvy teen in a time when willowy was fashionable. I packed on the weight in college and even more in my 20s and 30s. I can gain weight by just walking into a bakery, but taking it off has always been tortuous. Once, years ago, I lost a large amount of weight. It took three years and I went to bed hungry every night. I worked out for 90 minutes four or five times a week. And, of course, I gained most of it back over time.

A couple of years ago, my sister-in-law signed up for a hypnosis program and I teased her mercilessly. Then I saw her melt away. Ditto for her sister and her sister’s partner. I stopped teasing. I started doing research. I signed up. Which is why I found myself, last July, sitting shoulder to shoulder with about 80 other people in a ballroom in Westfield. Three sessions lasted almost five and half hours each. No one left, no one went to use the facilities or get water. We just sat and listened. It was truly one of the most transformative events of my life.

Six months later I am down three sizes and my new, smaller clothes are starting to swim on me. I told the hypnotist, Julie Kibe, that I want to be a size 10 and, for the first time in my adult life, I believe I will see my ribs. I do not weigh myself; I do not measure food or count calories. I eat a diet close to paleo and it is, truly, very easy and I am never hungry. I crave nothing and even if I occasionally wish I could eat something, the desire just goes away. I still hear Julie’s urging us to “eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re not” and that we will all be “blah” about food cravings.

I have a friend who also did the same program, but she is much more guarded than I am and is struggling. I think this worked for me because I believed it would and I wanted it badly enough. Still, it was a tough decision to make because I think that, much like knocking over a domino, once you start changing the energy in your life, other things change. I was so frightened by what would come that I spent the night before the first session crying and now I can’t believe I didn’t do this 20 years ago. Well, of course, that is because change is hard, but sometimes it is well worth the effort.

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AMPLIFICATIONS will return in mid to late April.


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