When nothing in life is certain, other than death, and change is thrown upon us at times from all angles, why is it that we are so afraid of change? I know that in some parts of my life I have had many massive changes, some of my own making and some thrown at me by others.
Whilst I used to be like so many others and fear change, I now know that if it is something I have no control over, that the only way to tackle change is to embrace it and move forward with life.
Many people are afraid of change for a large number and variety of reasons. The first is that the brain perceives patterns in everyday life and becomes comfortable with them. If those patterns then change, it can be extremely disruptive to a person’s entire way of thinking, leading to stress and anxiety.
Trapped by Our Patterns
We often refer to it as “going out of our comfort zone”, and no doubt you will have heard of this term hundreds of times. We set boundaries or limits for ourselves, usually unconsciously, and it is rare for us to go beyond them. The problem then is that we become set in our ways and reluctant to change. Getting so set in our ways makes it harder to accept change, especially if it is ythrust upon us.
Fear of the Unknown
Fear of the unknown causes people to not grab opportunities, and to maybe stay in situations longer than they should, especially if they are not truly happy. As soon as people consider making a change, the first question they always ask themselves is “What if I am making a big mistake?”.
This fear of things getting worse, rather than better, makes us decide not to take that chance, but to stay as we are. As the old saying goes, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. But unless you take a chance on change, you will never find out.
As soon as you start thinking about a big change in your life, self-doubt can start to creep in and take over. You wonder if you are up to the challenge, and your fear of failure caneasily stop you from ever taking action in the first place. Many people will ask themselves, why go to all that effort if you’re going to fail anyway? They decide it is better to leave things as they are and cope with their situation as best they can.
Fear of Success
Believe it or not, some people are afraid of success, because it can mean their new life could become too hard and overwhelm them. Maybe with success comes added responsibility that you don’t think you can handle. If it’s change in the way of a new promotion in your career, you will have to keep maintaining a high level of performance.
Alternatively, you may find some deep-rooted reason if you succeed. It may be that you prove your doubters wrong, that you can succeed when they thought you would fail. But if this is the case, then you start to worry that you have been holding yourself back from a better life that you actually deserve. On the other hand, just think how great it would feel to prove them all wrong.
Discouragement from friends and family
In a similar way, daring to dream big can find you on the receiving end of negative comments from people whose opinion we value and respect. If you hear, “You’ll NEVER manage to do that!” from a parent or partner, there’s a good chance they will put you off trying, and so be proved right. You will start to believe them, and you won’t make the changes needed to move forward and succeed. And it will be you whose dreams are shattered by a casual remark.
As Henry Ford, the great car manufacturer once said, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Success starts in the mind, and so does change – you need to get your mindset ready to tackle change.
Change Is a Process That Can’t Be Rushed
There is a theory that there are 6 stages of change – precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance and termination. Only once you have gone through all six stages of change will it actually stick with you. It can take weeks, months or years between the stages. However, all six stages are essential to success, and skimping on them can lead to failure.
Change can’t be forced if it is to be a success; you need to research, prepare, take action, and then evaluate the success of your actions. All of this takes time – these days there are many people who do not have the strength to take the steps needed to successfully create profound changes in their lives. If they don’t see success quickly, they give up or believe they have failed.
Change takes awful lot of effort, but the rewards can be well worth it. If you are willing to put in that effort, tackle your mental blocks, go for your goals, you could be well on your way to a better life.