We are only a few weeks away from the scariest of all nights of the year, Halloween. Although we joke and jest about Halloween, and the traditional acts of scaring others by dressing up as witches and warlocks, fear is not a joking matter for many. Fear is a real and daily demon.
Anxiety is intrinsically linked to our survival instincts. Giving it up seems inconceivable for many that suffer. Most people tell me they want to be less anxious, however when asked what they would like to do to change their anxiety, their response is, “But I hate change.” What they are really saying is that they want the benefits of change, as long as they don’t have to make the actual changes. For them the fear of change is too great.
Change means that you have to do something new, amend your habits, develop new ways of thinking and create a new way of being. It’s about holding your own hand while you step into the unknown. There are no shortcuts or free passes. The process requires that you get comfortable with being uncomfortable and with making sacrifices.
So why are we hardwired to be afraid of change even when we recognize that it would be good for us? Why do we fail at change over and over again? And why do we procrastinate to make the changes that will lead us to a better, more fulfilled life?
Top Excuses that Prevent Change
Here are the top excuses I hear that keep people from moving forward with their lives:
I Will Be Uncomfortable
It is natural to fear discomfort. It’s hardwired into us. However, if you want change than you must recognize that you are already uncomfortable with your life, your health, your relationships, your career, or your finances. Moving towards a new way of living is simply about feeling uncomfortable in a different way, so you can get to where you truly want to be. Isn’t it more reasonable to opt for temporary uncomfortableness that will lead to positive changes versus being uncomfortable with a negative aspect of your being for the rest of your life?
I May Not Succeed
The fear of failure permeates all of our society in so many ways. It is wrapped up with feelings of embarrassment, humiliation, or awkwardness. Fear of failure keeps great ideas unfertilized and people stuck in routine and boredom. It takes courage to realize that this fear is irrational and to not bow to its pressure. Where would we be if Thomas Edison had succumbed to the fear of failure and did not attempt to invent the lightbulb over a thousand times! What great ideas are you backing away from because of your fear of failure?
It Takes Work
If you usually spend your life playing it safe and sticking within your comfort zone, you will miss all the possibilities of what could be. Risk enhances your life. However, taking risks involves effort. It takes effort to prepare for that new job interview, to learn that new skill, or to stop that unhealthy eating habit. Sometimes the biggest risk however, is making no effort to change your life at all.
Others May Criticize Me
Ignoring the criticism of others is a necessary skill to adopt, especially if you are serious about wanting to change your life. You must accept that others will laugh at you, criticize you and chastise you. The interesting fact is that the people who are doing the criticizing are often the ones who would rather sit on the sidelines. And they want you to sit on the sidelines with them. If you are serious about change, you will have to accept that comments, sometimes not nice ones, from others are inevitable.
I Don’t Know What The New Way Will Be Like
People are naturally afraid of anything that is new or different. It’s completely normal. When change feels overwhelming, it’s a good idea to recognize that there are many aspects of your life that are not changing. You will always have your trusted friends, family, abilities, talents etc. While one part of our life may be changing there are other parts that will be staying the same. Knowing this can be reassuring and may be just the foundation you need to step forward, towards your big vision.
Take a moment to honestly consider whether a fear of change is holding you back. Is there a happier, healthier, wealthier, calmer you out there waiting for you to take the necessary steps? My next blog will address how you can overcome your fear of change so that you can truly experience how different your life can be.
To our health and wellbeing,