Fear of change is very common and for good reason. Our brains are hard-wired to keep us safe and making big changes, or sometimes even small changes, can trigger the brain’s self-defence mechanisms and create anxiety. Your brain will present any number of reasons why the change you are considering is a bad idea and why you should stay safe in your comfort zone. But focusing on the fear blocks your progress. And while change can be confronting (and sometimes downright scary!) it can also be positive and exciting and bring wonderful new experiences that you would not otherwise gain.
Our fears about change are often unconscious and it can take some digging to get to the underlying belief. Here are some steps you can take to gain clarity on what might be holding you back from making that change you have been considering.
1. Notice your thoughts.
What are you telling yourself will happen if you make this change? How true are these thoughts? Are you focusing on the positive opportunities, or the worst possible outcome? Or perhaps somewhere in between?
2. What are your beliefs about change?
The fear of change can be fueled by many different underlying beliefs such as 'I'm not good enough' or 'I don’t deserve success' or 'it's not safe to stand out'. What are your beliefs that may be getting in the road? Where did these beliefs come from? Have you had experiences in the past where change was stressful? Take a moment to think about that now. Acknowledge the learning and growth from that experience. What is the reality of that same thing happening again given what you have learnt?
3. Focus on what you want and how you want to feel, not on what you don’t want.
If you keep focusing on what you don’t want then you will continue to get caught up in fear and worry. Instead choose to focus on what you want to happen.
"One of the reasons people resist change is because they
focus on what they have to give up instead of what they have to gain.” – John Assaraf
If you aren’t sure what you want, then instead focus on how you want to feel. Take a minute to answer the following:
Take some time to notice how these feelings are different from how you feel now?
What is sitting in that space between what you feel now and how you want to feel? Is it fear or something else? And if so what is it telling you?
And what can you do today to feel more of the feelings that are important for you?
It is our feelings that are our ultimate guide posts. It is feelings such as happiness, joy and fulfillment that are the ultimate reward. Many have made it to what they thought was their end goal only to find they don’t feel fulfilled. By focusing on the feelings you want rather than just the material goal you gain more meaningful outcomes. What can you do to feel happier, more joyful, fulfilled or satisfied? What are some small steps you can take now to move towards what you want or closer to how you want to feel? They don’t need to be dramatic steps, but the reward you receive from feeling good will help propel you forward as opposed to trying to push yourself through change.
Wherever you are in your approach to change accept that it is ok! If you are someone that doesn’t cope well with change then take small steps. As you move forward you create comfort with what was previously uncomfortable. Move forward in the direction you want to go. Then check in. Does it feel right? If it feels right, then keep going! If it doesn’t feel right then reassess and change direction.
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the
first step.” – Martin Luther King
It’s ok to be a beginner! Everyone has to start somewhere. Would you expect a baby to be able to run before they can walk?
Be kind to yourself.
Counsellor (Trauma informed)
EFT Practitioner (Emotional Freedom Techniques)
I hope you have found these words helpful. If you know someone else who may benefit from this post please pass it on.