The old days look better because we cannot cope with the new, especially when there are no consistent rules to guide us, when we do not feel included in its message and the seemingly secure boundaries we are enjoying are gradually being stripped away. The past always looks better when we lack confidence because it allows us to dismiss anything remotely uncomfortable while we remain deliberately blind to what we do not wish to see. But this merely increases our sense of insecurity and keeps us on the periphery, isolated and ignored.
When we rely too much upon past solutions to resolve current dilemmas it is an indirect admission of our inability to control our own destiny. To feel more secure, we hark back to tried and tested methods of dead men that were ideal in a bygone era but is of less relevance, and limited use, in the present revolutionary age with its vastly different mores and expectations.
For instance, we can understand and sympathise with people who lived before the 16th century and did not travel too far afield because they genuinely believed that the earth was flat and were afraid of falling off the edge. With nothing else to dispute their belief their caution made sense. Since then, numerous exploration and discoveries have proved that thought to be totally wrong. Man's natural curiosity and ingenuity have ensured that, through constant research and expansion of knowledge handed down the ages, without accepting such ideas without question, subsequent generations have been able to shape the quality of their own lives for the better. They have done that with a confidence borne of their own capacity to influence their environment. If we now choose not to go abroad, it would be for entirely different reasons. Furthermore, if all those explorers had merely accepted the hand-me-down knowledge without question, we would not be enjoying the incredible technology at our disposal today.
Communicate About Fears
No one would want to reinvent the wheel, but we should always be prepared to expand on its usefulness, not just accept its basic form, which makes all change inevitable. To cope with change, we need to talk loudly about hidden fears and anxieties and confront them without flinching. Suppression never does anyone any good except keep us in fear. It merely brings out the anxieties in other ways (like recurrent illnesses, absenteeism from work, low confidence and continued inadequacy and resentment). A denial of our fears, a lack of communication of our true feelings and a resistance to change, mainly serve to keep us trapped in futility and insecurity. Yet if we knew that this week would be the very last week of our lives we would pull out all the stops to do some of the things we have longed for, or to try a new experience.
Coping with change can be traumatic, especially when we are unprepared for it, it seems irrelevant and we have convinced ourself that we cannot learn or appreciate it. But the only way to increase our confidence in a world of uncertainty is to face these insecurities squarely, to identify what we each can do to influence our new situation, to update the skills we need to acclimatise, to befriend, encourage and simply learn from the young – and go for it!
No matter how frightening the image, how strong the emotion and how little the perceived reward connected to a new change, we have to learn to take it on board in some positive way otherwise our development will be stunted while more amenable colleagues make the most of it and ultimately reap the benefits.
If we are stuck in the past and unduly preoccupied with ways and actions of old, we will lose our credibility, becoming fossils of denial while we merely exist on the periphery – rudderless, vulnerable and helpless – and increasingly incapable of appreciating the amazing developments and actual benefits of living in our own dimension.
ELAINE SIHERA (Ms Cyprah - http://www.myspace.com/elaineone and http://www.elainesihera.co.uk ) is an expert author, public speaker, media contributor and columnist. The first Black graduate of the OU and a post-graduate of Cambridge University. Elaine is a CONFIDENCE guru and a consultant for Diversity Management, Personal Empowerment and Relationships. Author of: 10 Easy Steps to Growing Older Disgracefully; 10 Easy Steps to Finding Your Ideal Soulmate!; Money, Sex & Compromise and Managing the Diversity Maze, among others (available on http://www.amazon.co.uk as well as her personal website). Also the founder of the British Diversity Awards and the Windrush Men and Women of the Year Achievement Awards. She describes herself as, “Fit, Fabulous, Over-fifty and Ready to Fly!"