You’re inspired to do something BIG – so big, it’s scary. And crazy as it sounds, you think you could do it, given half a chance. Now there’s this raging debate inside you: are you going to go for it, or sit down until the thought goes away?
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can help you understand what’s going on inside of you. Remember that? Of course you do, but here it is anyway:
Think of the whole triangle as your psychological morphic field, and each level as a sub-field. Here’s the problem: your proposed leap to the apex threatens the four bottom levels, which right now are nicely in place. You’re a lawyer. Your income feeds you, puts a roof over your head, keeps the creditors at bay (especially those law school loans). You belong to a prestigious profession. You’ve gotten lots of strokes all your life for being a high achiever.
And now you’re going to throw all that away to start a catering business or write novels? Yeah right. You’ll end up alone and under a bridge. Sit down before you hurt yourself.
That’s what you’re up against if you want to make big changes. Right now, your psychic morphic field is in a state of what biology calls homeostasis: “the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, esp. as maintained by physiological processes.”
Homeostasis is biology-speak for status quo; it’s that state where everything is in balance. We may not always like how things are balanced in our lives, but we like the balance itself. When we think about making big changes, we threaten to throw everything out of balance, shake up the whole energy field. No wonder we freak out.
We could take comfort in knowing that homeostasis is a state to which nature returns, and therefore all the levels we’re threatening will reorganize themselves to support our pursuit of the apex. We could, but we don’t. We take things like our survival and safety and sense of belonging and identity very seriously. Threatening them all with one leap is just too scary.
Fortunately, there are some things we’ll do even if we’re afraid. That takes courage, which is not the absence of fear but action in the face of it. Courage is an essential element of any kind of change, but especially that scary leap to the top of Maslow’s pyramid.
To be continued.