6 Tips to Control Your Fear of Change
This is my journey to discovering my 6 tips to control my fear of change to create a new happier, more fulfilling life.
Far From Ordinary
It was spring 1972 and I was 10 years old. I had been given a small, soft-sided, orange and olive-green flowered suitcase. The eight of us were picked up by our pastor and driven to the airport on the military base in Halifax.
I remember being scared.
We boarded a military cargo plane and arrived in Trenton, Ontario, where we stayed with close family friends overnight. The next morning, lugging the flowered suitcase, I boarded a Greyhound bus.
Into More Unknown
Our final destination – Kitchener, Ontario – was the first non-military city I had ever been exposed to. The eight of us lived for several weeks with my generous uncle and his eight kids, as my mother searched for a job and a home for us.
The contents of that flowered suitcase were the only remnants of a former chapter of my life as a military brat and daughter of a raging, abusive alcoholic father.
This new chapter was still mysterious, but fear was loosening its grip. In fact, it was the first time in my life that fear did not rule the household. The suitcase was a symbol of stepping into the unknown, to find a happier chapter of my life, thanks to my mother’s courage to embrace change and become my hero.
A New World
Even though I had bought into the feminist agenda that we don’t need a man to be happy, my high school boyfriend’s “Leave It to Beaver” family offered me something I had never known before — stability and security.
Eventually, I, at least partially, bought into his family’s ideals and married him at age 24. Looking back — that is where I started losing my self-imagined identity as a strong, independent woman, who was going to turn the world on with her smile and take the town — if not the world — by storm.
After living an amazing life for 30 years with my now ex-husband I felt I had to move on. He was a good provider and father, but he was not a good husband. His multiple infidelities broke my heart and my trust. I knew I deserved a happier life free from heartbreak. I also deserved to be respected. I had only felt disrespect from him. I needed to change my life. To find that independent 24-year-old again.
Change is a Paradox
You can both want change and fear change at the same time. One thing change gives us is the ability to start over.
Change, while scary in the moment, has many rewards. You can learn to control your fear of change.
Facing the Fear
So why do we fear change so much?
It is risky.
When your brain senses risk your defense mechanism kicks in. Your brain becomes flooded with dopamine, and it looks for corrective actions it can trigger. The brain encourages every available neuron to regain control. The brain is wired to provide answers to uncertainty; it wants you to do anything to reduce the stress. And so, the brain defaults to the easiest and least painful option – staying in your comfort zone.
6 Reasons We Fear Change
- Uncertainty is more stressful than predictable negative outcomes. We’d rather face predictable negative outcomes than face uncertainty and risk that something good could happen.
- The unknown is scary. Change is all about moving into the unknown. Fear causes unclear and irrational thinking and behaviour. That’s why you end up staying in unhappy and unhealthy situations.
- Your brain hates loss — especially when you have an emotional investment — you don’t want to lose all the time and effort that you’ve already exerted. Your brain’s desire for loss aversion means you will likely make choices to avoid change. Aversion to loss can cause logic to fly out the window.
- Your brain expects things to stay the same — change challenges the info stored in your brain — trust is broken — any change that is inconsistent with your core beliefs will be scary and stressful.
- We’re so afraid of what others will think we’re afraid to try something new.
- Your brain may also tell you stories – mostly to discourage you. You may fear that you won’t survive and thrive — This was my greatest fear as I was leaving my marriage. Your brain weaves a story about horrible consequences as means to get you to jump back to your comfort zone because it is safer.
- We equate change with mistakes.
Maybe you can relate to not feeling good enough, not smart enough. Maybe you feel like the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.
Many of us choose fear. We allow fear to disguise itself as practicality.
I had traded my soul for security and stability, but my soul wanted to fly, and it did. I knew I was not going to resist change again. Where did that courage come from?
Here are My 6 Tips for Controlling Your Fear of C-H-A-N-G-E.
C – Control negative thoughts
Stop judging yourself — don’t fixate on what will be lost by making the change – it will prevent you from seeing the good possibilities.
H – Have confidence in yourself
Believe in yourself — love yourself —believe that you have the competence to handle change — find your anchor — the core of you will not change.
A – Allow yourself to freak out
Feel the fear — cry, shout, pout — whatever — this will allow you to process the emotions associated with the change.
N – Narrate your own story
Let go of perceived societal expectations — go with the flow. Life doesn’t give you a manual, that means you can create your own path.
G – Go nuts
Invite excitement in — do something fun and crazy.
E – Evaluate what you are feeling
Sometimes, the feelings of fear are a signal that something exciting is entering your world. Get clarity about why the change is necessary — be clear on what issues you will own.