What is fear of change?
As far as we know, the only constant of human existence is changing. Yet most people resist it. This is paradoxical because nothing is constant except change itself. You can’t get away from it once you’re born (unless you die, which ends the problem). Change can be hard. It might cause a lot of confusion and stress. However, it can be taken in a positive manner. Maybe the change that you go through will open doors to new opportunities. All it takes is a little imagination and courage to be able to see it in a positive light.
Everyone knows a phrase, but few people pay adequate attention to: ‘You cannot step into the same river twice.’ The water has moved on. But most of us, most of the time, overlook this essential fact about life: change is a law of nature. You overlook this law of nature because you are afraid of change. You fear that it will lead to discomfort and pain. You have a certain way of doing things that work for you, that ensures your success and happiness, and you are very concerned with not rocking the boat. Changing things with other things will behavioural switch other things will behavioural you into uncertainty and instability. It’s easier to stick with what you know – and changing is a scary business.
People are naturally afraid of change, and that is a good thing. Fear of change keeps us from walking in front of buses or off the edges of cliffs. But you see, just like a coin it has another side. The side that keeps you from challenging yourself. And most things that take you forward in life are challenging. So it is when your fear of change hinders your growth that it becomes a problem. Fear of change is keeping you from achieving everything you could achieve. That is why it is important to know how to deal with it and for that, you must know more about it.
Why do you fear change?
Fear of change is a common source of anxiety and stress that can affect people of all ages. The human need to belong, to adhere to tradition, and to fear what might appear as failure are all-powerful motivations that drive people to seek security in their traditions and stability in their lives. Changing your beliefs and values can shake all these things up and leave you feeling uncertain about what’s right or wrong.
You are afraid of trying new things because you think this may lead to failure or some other setback. Fear negates innovation and progress. Fear causes you to take shortcuts and miss opportunities because you aren’t willing to risk failure. Fear of change can manifest itself in many ways. It might be fear of changing jobs or careers, could be stopping you from getting out of a bad relationship, etc.
Fear of change can be a good thing if you can identify the areas of your life where change might help you improve or grow. But if that fear keeps you from taking the necessary step towards change, then it will eventually sabotage your efforts at growth. If you don’t permit yourself to be afraid of your own life choices and decisions, then any change becomes either too difficult for you or too painful when it comes.
To understand why one would fear change, it can be broadly understood with two reasons:
1. Fear of the unknown
Change is scary. The world we live in is complex, full of unknowns. As we navigate it, there will always be uncharted territory and uncharted possibilities. Change brings the unknown. We, humans, live in a static world where everything is constantly on the move and the possibility of something arbitrary taking place. That change is something new and unpredictable with other things that will be behavioural. An unexpected arrival moves things around. It has the potential to make our lives worse before they get better. But it can also help us solve problems that seem unsolvable, it could also help us see things with more clarity or spectacularly improve things we take for granted, like appreciating your mother’s cooking more when you move out for college. Fear of the unknown is a virtual construct of the human mind that we can be easily influenced by. Fear of change is the sort of mental block that can stop us from taking the risk needed to reach new heights, making us miss out on discoveries and experiences. If you want to live a happy healthy life, anything could happen. You don’t need anyone’s approval or support. You just need to keep going with what you’re doing and stepping outside the box where you live to discover new things. The moment you learn to embrace change and break down that mental block, you will soon begin to see all the new experiences you were able to gain as you move forward.
2. Change challenges our comforts
As humans, we love novelty. We crave the new and the different, and we seek out an unfamiliar place with new people and concepts. When it comes to putting a hard limit on change and growth, however, our comfort zone gets in the way. Familiarity breeds contentment, which in turn naturally leads us toward a comfortable, uninteresting routine. We want things to be what they are; we don’t want to be challenged in any way. Comfort zones surround us, they surround my mother, surround my father, surround my best friend. They are a cocoon that protects, shields us from the storm outside. But now and then the calm walls around us will be torn down and we’ll have to face the world. I’ve spent the last decade trying to figure out why our society is so stuck in its comfort zone. It appears that we simply can’t give up the things that we know, and must live inside their bubble. It makes logical sense, but then how would one learn to grow and learn what life has thrown at them?
Ways to overcome the fear of change
Change can be terrifying, but that is why we must push through it. We must be willing to take a risk and change course when it’s in our best interest to stay where we are. Sometimes this means learning a new skill that will pay off in the long run or changing careers if the new opportunity has something to offer. No matter what type of change you’re looking at, or how big of the one you are envisioning, it’s important to remember there is always room for growth and improvement. Never stop learning and always push yourself to be better at whatever you do. If you are afraid of change, then you’re almost guaranteed to make poor decisions. You could be paralyzed to the point of inaction before even taking a single step. If you act on your fear, however, then you will experience the benefits immediately.
1. Acknowledge the fear
When you plan and set out to accomplish something the first thing that will pop up is other things will doubt. That doubt arises in your mind because you are afraid of the changes that it is making in your life. We become fearful of the unknown and concerned with avoiding uncomfortable feelings. But feeling afraid doesn’t mean it’s right to avoid something. In that case, the first step in overcoming fear is recognizing it. knowing that you’re afraid is enough to reduce the intensity of the reaction. Appreciating feelings is how we learn to handle them and move through them. Once you recognize that your fears are irrational and will eventually pass, you will be able to put them behind you and steer forward.
2. Focus on the benefits of taking action
You have to focus on the benefits of taking action. That is the definition of having a purpose in life. You take action when you know that it will provide you with a significant benefit. For example, if you are trying out for a running team and can’t meet the physical requirements, but know that you will improve your chances of making the team if you start running, then take a step toward starting running. Why? Because there are psychological benefits (i.e., it improves your self-esteem) and there is also the opportunity to improve your physical health. So even if you don’t make it, there are other things that will benefit you from taking action. And it is the same in every scenario, getting over your fear and taking action always results in some behavioural or psychological benefits. Therefore, do not be afraid to get up early and do things that make you uncomfortable or where there is a risk of failing.
3. Expose yourself to change step by step
Many of us have a strong fear of large or radical changes in our lifestyle, and this seems to be a natural part of growing up. If you’re a teenager, you likely grew up facing fears of being left behind, of losing friends, or worse yet, of being ridiculed for your differences. Growing up is scary (obviously). And it doesn’t change even after you grow up.
But you can overcome this fear by facing the unknown head-on and truly knowing what you are getting yourself into. don’t get stuck, and don’t let your guard down. Keep moving forward in any direction – take one small step at a time. What it means is instead of making radical changes in your life. Make small changes. For example, if you want to acquire a new skill, read up on it. Make a plan on how you’re going to integrate it into your daily routine. And then write down the pros and cons of what you learn. Change is scary but it can also be gradual if you take it in well. It’s not something you should fear because it’s not the end of the world.
4. Accept uncertainty as normal
Accepting uncertainty (or wondering if you can achieve your objectives) as normal is one of the most important traits to develop. Uncertainty kills creativity. It stops you from trying new things because you fear failing. It is more important now than ever to accept uncertainty as normal to overcome the fear of change. An old proverb says that “to succeed, you have to adapt.” But the truth is that most people cannot succeed in adapting to change because they have such strong opinions or negatively evaluate what their current situation is and why it needs to change. Being uncertain is a good thing. When you are uncertain about your expectations, for example, you develop both values and biases that might cause you to change your expectations in the future (or not change your expectations at all). In short, you are preparing yourself for whatever gets thrown at you. That itself allows you to face any sort of change that comes along. Even if it’s painful or difficult to get through, accepting the uncertainty of your situation much earlier will prepare you for the worst.
5. Talk to others about your change plan
To be successful, you have to make and accept changes. And that usually includes changing your current habits that could help you grow and get where you want to reach. Changing the way you think requires a new way of thinking. Often this requires overcoming fear, but that’s easier said than done. Changing your lifestyle begins by talking with others about your change plan. Probably learning someone else’s fears and how they overcome theirs, could give you an insight and a sense of direction with how to deal with yours. Each person’s fears are different but the energy and determination to get over them are what ties us all together.
6. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
It is normal to feel scared and intimidated at times. These feelings are an indication that there could be something that we are going about in our daily lives in the wrong way, which makes it more difficult to kick out the bad habits that drive these negative feelings. Positive thinking is an excellent mental technique that can help you overcome all kinds of fear, including the fear of change. For example, if you have been avoiding social interactions because you are afraid of what people might say or do when they see you out in public, think about how grateful you will be when you finally get out there and meet new people in real life. The ability to replace negative thoughts with positive ones is one of the most important life skills. It allows you to think things through rationally, rather than emotionally spiralling out of control. When you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you can think more confidently.
7. Reward yourself
We are often paralyzed by fear of the unknown. In a competitive world, we’re bombarded with thoughts that we have no chance of competing with or being better than our competitors and therefore have little motivation or no motivation to try new things. One way to overcome this is by rewarding yourself for overcoming fears. For motivation to stick, you should reward yourself for the confidence you built up to get over your fears. As long as it doesn’t distract you or change your game plan, rewarding yourself is a great idea for any accomplishment made. It’s only you who truly know how much it took for you to get that one task accomplished. Therefore, treat yourself to what you think will benefit you.
No one knows what the future holds. But when it comes, it will be different. There’s no denying this, yet we often view change – inevitable as it is – with a nagging sense of dread. Being afraid doesn’t matter unless it causes you to fail to take steps that will help you achieve your potential and do the things that matter in life for you. It takes courage to overcome this fear. Courage to admit that not all change is good, but some can be; courage to stand up for what you believe in, even when it means sticking your neck out; and courage to be wrong when you might otherwise be right. I believe these.