One of the suggestions made by Vincent Deary is that we invest a huge amount into the structures and systems which support our “normality”, and that this is one of the things which make it so hard to change. This certainly rings a bell with my own experience. This “uploading”, as Deary calls it, creates another dynamic which operates alongside our fear of an unknown future and which also has the effect of making change hard, if not impossible; that of loss.

In order to change, we have to abandon, if not actively divest ourselves of, things which are extremely important and meaningful to us. We may well have put huge amounts of time, money and effort, both emotional and physical, into creating not only ourselves but the framework which supports those selves. We have invested massively in things which we must now, in order to change and progress, declare redundant, obsolete. We have to throw away items of great personal value which may have been many many years in the making as though they were at best worthless and at worst damaging. Given that a lot of us struggle to throw away so much as a paperback or a tee shirt, this is a hell of a big ask. And these are things which often can’t be recycled; they have to be binned

By “items”, I don’t mean physical things but modes and ways of being, physical, emotional and spiritual. For instance, in my old job I had become extremely good at a number of things, amongst them the ability to manage an unpredictable and fluctuating workload with a lot of short deadlines, the ability to work quickly and effectively through a lot of small and varied but demanding tasks and sundry other things such as public speaking. When my role changed, none of these things were in any way helpful. Instead, I had to spend a lot of time sitting on my own and making up stuff out of my own head. It was hideously difficult and as a result, I clung to one small area of my job which still required me to work in the “old” way.

The trouble was, it no longer made organisational sense for me to do it.  There were a number of other people who could do it instead, and in fact, it was distracting me from what I needed to do. Worse, as I gradually realised, it was stopping me from changing by keeping me wedded to the old ways of being. It had to go, but it was hard, so hard, to give it up. It was the last little bit of my job where I felt like the “old” me, at a time when I hadn’t yet created the “new” me, and for a long time after I handed it over I agonised about whether handing it over had been the right thing to do.

More tomorrow.