Change: Why We Fear Change and Ways To Embrace It

Change is a good thing, right?  If it is, then why is it so uncomfortable and scary?  Do you find your self wanting to see changes yet dread them at the same time?  You are not alone.  Most of us like changes once they have happened but dread them before and as they are occurring.  We are creatures of habit and even when situations are bad; we often prefer them to change that could lead to better things and we do so due to knowing what to expect in the current situation.  We like a sense of balance and what we perceive as “normal”.  Change gets us out of our comfort zone.  Scary and uneasy which are two feelings that most don’t like except when watching a Horror movie or riding a roller coaster.   

Many changes we anticipate with excitement despite some fear such as graduating, getting married, buying a home, and taking a vacation to name a few.  However, we also dread many changes such as a change in a boss, new policies, and death. Deepak Chopra said it well with “All great changes are preceded by chaos.”  Sounds pretty accurate, right?  Is there not some chaos before graduating, getting married, buying a home, and taking a vacation such as needing to plan and follow a budget, who to include in our plans, and where to do these things.    Walter Anderson suggested “Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.”  This too makes sense…..has your anxiety not decreased after you make progress in changing and realizing that it was not as bad as you anticipated and if it was as bad or worse than you anticipated then at least you survived it.

Some reasons why people resist and fear change include:

1.     Loss of control-we may say that we don’t like control but most of us at least like some level of control in our lives whether it is how we spend our money, what we eat, or who we associate with.

2.    Uncertainty and surprises:   not everyone likes a surprise birthday party or engagement so why would those same people like the uncertainty of change.  Even those who like surprises like a gift likely won’t enjoy the “surprises” associated with change.  

3.    Differences being experienced:  such as routines.  If you accept a new job that you need to be there at 5am yet you used to sleep in until 8am, does this not take getting used and time to do so? This is not usually a comfortable adjustment, at least not at the beginning.

4.    Concerns about our competence:  how do I know or will know if I can do whatever is being asked and required?  An example of this could be if one can learn a new computer program and do well doing so.

5.    Possibility of pain and discomfort:  Change can hurt.  Who wants to hurt; likely not many if anyone.  Our relationships will likely be different; some will improve and some will dissolve and facing a loss of a relationship is quite painful whether through death or physical/emotional separation.  

Now that we have explored and discussed why people, including ourselves, resist and fear change; lets explore and discuss strategies to become more comfortable with and embrace change.  

1.     Explore, process, and discuss the positives of changes: An example of this could be you are getting a new boss. Lots of things are racing through your mind. Step back and think about what good can come from this change.  Perhaps the new boss will advocate for you more and have new and improved ideas and will seek your help in implementing the new ideas.

2.    Allow yourself time to feel and process your feelings about the changes:  No feeling is wrong.  Learn to acknowledge and sit with your feelings such as fear, anxiety, excitement, etc.  These are your feelings and they are ok.  

3.    Practice making small changes in your life to get used to changes: Perhaps you can read a chapter of a book in the evening instead of watching the latest episode of a popular TV series or you could decide to not eat meat one meal a week.

4.    Allow yourself to grieve the loss:  Yes, I said grieve the loss.  Grieving is not just about death it can be about grieving changes that result in loss of something; such as daily work routine.  Remember what was good but also process the positives that are coming.

5.    Practice good self care:  remember to eat balanced and nutritious meals, exercise, and get much needed sleep.  Don’t forget to include activities that relax you such as listening to music, taking a walk, or cuddling with your cat.  In case you missed it, read this blog on self care.

Change is very scary but it is a constant in life. Ironic huh?  I challenge myself and everyone to work at learning to view and accept change in a more positive light and work on looking forward to changes rather than dread them.  It won’t be easy but we can do it.  I believe what Kareen Lamb says “A year from now you will wish you had started today.” 

If you are struggling with change, we are here for you. Please reach out to us for we want to help.  What changes have you had in your life?  How have you handled them?  What have you learned from them?  We would like to hear your experiences.