Getting “Better” Is Scary! (The fears nobody talks about)

It’s hard to measure our own growth and healing. It’s like watching a child grow – day by day we don’t see it. It’s the overall gains we tend to note. Sometimes it’s noticing the first steps, the things that become possible. We want to capture those moments, yet with ourselves, we’re often afraid to note our own progress. It’s uncomfortable to acknowledge that we’re getting better.

I put the same curse on every client I serve, “I hope it gets so good you can’t stand it.” As silly as that may sound, it happens, and when it does, folks are usually crawling out of their skin. I urge them to be patient. I normalize that it’s ok to be scared of change and transition, especially because we tend to associate those with loss.

Folks usually get superstitious. They confess that they’re afraid of “jinxing themselves.” Often, they despair, “I don’t know who I’ll even be without this (pain, anxiety depression, or fear).” I tease them that they’ll be the same jerk but with less burdens to carry and less pressure to perform under.

What it’s really about is becoming freer and more authentic versions of ourselves. As desirable as that is, we don’t yet feel comfortable being that person. If we think about it in the simplest of terms, there’s no reason why we should be comfortable. It’s not what’s familiar – it’s not what’s “normal” for us.

It’s sad, the things that aren’t comfortable for us – self-respect, dignity, confidence, and faith in self are very often things that were not cultivated within us. We are not born with these – they must be instilled. It’s hard for us to get past the injustice of being denied so many experiences that were our birthrights.

For many of us, letting go of anxiety or depression is like saying goodbye to an old friend we’ve outgrown. Without our constant companion, our lives seem completely foreign. Getting better is scary and it hurts. Just as children have “growing pains” so too we have experienced lots of discomfort in stretching our comfort zones and taking on new challenges.

Progressively we are becoming the person we most want to be. I hope that you have good company on this journey. Getting better can be very lonely. Having even one or two kindred spirits on your journey makes our efforts more manageable and sustainable.

We deserve to have people in our lives who are genuinely happy for us. We deserve to know and befriend folks who are secure enough in themselves to celebrate our gains. One of my current favorite memes:

“I’m not competing with anyone. I hope we all win.”

As a coach and therapist, I get a front-row seat to watch people muster the courage or simply embody the desperation that makes change possible and necessary. I cheer loudly for each and every one. With each success, those I serve say, “You’re going to be so proud of me!” And I am, but I remind them that I always am because I don’t simply judge their results. I applaud efforts and the willingness to become.