Change: The End of The World
Updated: Jan 23
The end of the world. In some people this phrase evokes panic and fear, while others think excitedly of their favorite action movie or song. How can one phrase have such different effect on people? The answer to that question is different life experiences and belief systems.
Consider the example of two children, the same age and gender, who both have the same experience. While learning to ride a bicycle one day, both kids fall and scrape their knees. The first child’s parent runs over making a big fuss, afraid of serious injury. The parent anxiously talks about getting the knee cleaned up and making sure the child is ok. The parent continues to go on talking about how the bicycle was a bad idea and is just really not safe. The bicycle gets put in the garage, gathers dust and is never ridden again. From that experience, the child wants nothing to do with bicycles and riding them in the future.
Child number two has a similar fall and scrape the knee experience while learning to ride a bicycle. This child’s parent simply asks if the child is ok and waits for an answer. The child answers with a yes and the parent asks if a band aid is needed. The child says no and goes about riding the bicycle for a while longer. This child goes on to enjoy bicycles as a source of fun and exercise in the future.
Child number one experienced such a fearful reaction to the bicycle incident that it seemed like the world was ending. The impact of that emotion created an association with bicycles that the child didn’t want to repeat. Child number two experienced a supportive reaction without fear. This child created the association that injuries don’t have to create fear and things turn out ok.
When you have experiences that are wrapped in fear and intense emotion an association forms between that and any type of change from the normal. The normal is your comfort zone and it feels like the world is ending when some type of change or deviation from it is required. On the opposite note, when you have experienced support without significant fear, change comes more easily and with little or no anxiety, stress and fear.
The end of the world is really an emotional association of fear that got attached to a new experience at one point. When you consider that idea, the world ends all the time because things are changing all of the time. As an R.E.M. song once said, “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”