The idea of “change” is one of the most powerful ideas out there. At the most basic level the idea of “change” speaks to the potential for transformation. That individuals, communities, organizations, and societies can change is an important and widely held belief.

Recently I had a conversation with a friend who is admittedly afraid of change. He is afraid of change because he didn’t seek it out, he’s not sure he can do it, and he doesn’t know what’s on the other side. I totally get it.

We all know that many people fear change. Whether it’s the implicit loss of something, the surrender of control, the unknown, or just a nagging resistance, fear of change is alive and well.

Back to the conversation with my friend. I asked whether “change” was the right word to describe what he’s experiencing. Could there be a better word? A better word would allow him to engage with what he’s facing in a more meaningful and empowered way. I wondered if “evolve”, “grow”, “journey”, “progress”, or some other word might be a more compassionate and accurate word for him than “change.”

As I reflect now, it occurs to me that I’ve never really considered synonyms or corollary concepts when it comes to change. I’ve likely thought: change is change. Some people like it, some don’t, it’s the only constant. Now I’m intrigued by the idea that our attitude toward change is deeply tied to certain beliefs we have about what change actually means and entails. If change is about negating some present reality, letting go of something cherished, surrendering control, or complete rejection, then sure, change kind of sucks. If change is about the natural process of make meaning of our ever-unfolding and developing existence, that seems a lot more nourishing to me.

So maybe there is a word that’s better than “change.”

Better than Change