Posts Tagged With: fear of change

Day 287: Opening a can of worms

“Opening a can of worms” is an idiom.

“Idiom” is a word I avoid, sometimes, because it sounds like the word “idiot.”

When people use this idiom, it’s a warning about a possible negative result of change.

If you […insert change here….], you’ll be opening a can of worms!

I hear this a lot, from within and without.

If you try something new, and it doesn’t work, you’ll feel like an idiot!

If you ….

  1. change a process, at work or elsewhere,
  2. talk to somebody about something upsetting,
  3. introduce somebody new into your life,
  4. move, one way or another,
  5. take a risk, of any kind

… you might be opening up a can of worms.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeek!   Worms!!!

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Last week, at work, we were discussing a possible change, and a manager used that expression.

Yesterday, at home, I was discussing a possible change with my boyfriend, and he used that expression.

I’m not kidding, people, I hear that expression a lot.

This is what I said to my boyfriend, though:

Wait a minute!  We might be opening up a can of worms, it’s true.  But, Michael!  It’s just a can!

Because I was picturing a can of this size:

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and so was he.

So I asked,

Why are people so scared of opening a can of worms, then?

Here’s a quote, from Mental Floss, about the idiom:

Metaphorically speaking, to open a can of worms is to examine or attempt to solve some problem, only to inadvertently complicate it and create even more trouble. Literally speaking, opening a can of worms, as most fishermen can attest, can also mean more trouble than you bargained for.

Here’s another one, from Yahoo Answers:

Opening a can of worms means to start to reveal something that will be messy and hard to conceal. A literal can of worms would be filled with hundreds of squirmy worms that would fall all over the place. Attempting to catch all of them and get them back in the can would be very difficult. The same goes for so many things in our lives. Sometimes there are things that we say that can’t be reversed or put back in the can, as it were. And like the worms that spread out everywhere the thing in question will spread out and impact other people.

Hmmm.  So I guess the fear makes sense, doesn’t it?

But, as I said to Michael,

What if the worms DO all escape?  How can they hurt us, really?

I mean, it’s not like we’re opening up a Tanker of Tarantulas.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m not so scared about opening up a can of worms, right now.

Thanks to Michael, grasshopper_ramblin, spaghetti in cans, worms everywhere, people considering a change, and to you, of course, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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