How do you feel about change?

Do you resist it?

Are you afraid of it?

Or are you someone who sees new possibilities in change?

If your relationship with change is not where you want it to be, this episode is for you. I cover the highs and lows of change, our natural and often ingrained fear of change, and how we can relate to change in a healthy way because it will happen whether we resist or not.

Prefer the audio? Listen here.

Fear of Change

Fear of success and fear of failure are two sides to the same coin: fear of change.

Fear of change is so prevalent it even has a name, metathesiophobia

Everyone experiences fear of change at some point. It is a natural human condition.

Even when we desire change, it can cause stress in our bodies and minds.

Processing Change + Its Emotional Distress

Let’s talk about how to process change because even when we move toward something we want, change often evokes conflicting emotions.

I experienced this when I got married 25 years ago. Even though I was extremely happy, part of me still needed to process the loss of the single life I was leaving behind because I loved it. (Just not more than I loved my husband.)

We do not talk enough about the negative or distressing feelings positive or desirable changes can create. Sometimes, change involves grieving our old selves and what we left behind as much as (or more than) it involves celebrating a new chapter. Needing to mourn does not make you ungrateful.

The pandemic highlighted just how distressing change can be for us.

It was a rough time because change was thrust upon us. We had no time to mourn what was happening. We had to navigate multiple changes, often daily. The entire way we interacted changed overnight.

We were just trying to survive the best we could under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, and all of these distressing changes took a huge psychological toll on people.

In my therapy practice, I witnessed how these changes were impacting the mental well-being of my clients. Many used constructs of sameness to get through their days as keeping to a schedule or routine helped them feel more in control.

Someone getting sick can also be an emotionally distressing change.

My mom was diagnosed with cancer during the pandemic. She is okay now (thankfully), but managing this change was distressing because it meant relating to my mother differently.

I went from relating to her as an independent person who hardly ever needed help to someone who needed daily support from me and my sisters, which was emotionally distressing. When you become a caretaker, life becomes more focused on doing for the other person than thinking about what is happening. There is often little time to process the change.

Fear of the Unknown

Why do we fear change?

Fear often has to do with the unknown- things we have never navigated.

When you think about getting married or having kids, you might think, I’ll figure it out.

Of course, you can figure it out, but navigating this territory will probably bring up anxiety because one of the biggest fears we have as humans is fear of the unknown.

Someone from my community recently mentioned feeling resistant to looking for a new job in preparation for a move she and her partner agreed on. She has wanted to leave her job for a while but is worried she will work more and earn less elsewhere. She also feels too burnt out from her current job to put her heart into a search and is wondering how to go from fear into action.

Her lack of action is a symptom of how she feels about the change. Procrastination is incredibly common when it comes to making a change involving the unknown.

What Is Change? + Mental Paradigms

What does it actually mean “to change”?

Family therapist Roger S. Gil defines change as “a modification to a person’s environment, situation, or physical or mental condition that results in circumstances that challenge their existing paradigms.”²

If you are wondering, what’s a paradigm? it is the way you think something is or should be.

Consider marriage, having children, or changing jobs. You’ve likely already constructed an idea, or a paradigm, about these things in your mind.

We do this negatively, too.

Maybe you have concluded there is no hope of finding real love in this lifetime. This is a paradigm, a limiting belief, you are organizing your life around.

To uncover our fear of change, we need to look at the limiting beliefs preventing us from making changes in the first place.

We all wish for some things to be different in our lives, but there is truth in favoring “the devil you know” versus the devil you don’t know. Many of us prefer the known, even when it is not in our highest or best interest.

Ultimately, change is inevitable. The only thing we can count on is change.

To see this in action, look at a photo of you from high school and compare it to a recent one. Age just happens. Change just happens. Life cycles happen.

We do not have control over these things, but we can control how we relate to them.

Examining Your Downloaded Blueprint Around Change

Your downloaded blueprint, or your subconscious thoughts around change, can reveal how you relate to change and why you relate to it in this way.

Growing up, the parental impactors in your life modeled behavior around change – how well they did or did not do it, and whether they embraced it or resisted it.

If your parental impactors disliked change, you may unconsciously associate change with loss or something negative.

Inside the guide are a few questions to help you get clarity on what you saw growing up.

There is also a certain amount of flexibility and spontaneity that comes with being accepting of change.

For example, how attached are you to using the same shampoo and face cream? If they discontinued these products, would it throw you for a loop? Or would you shrug it off and buy another brand?

Think about how attached you are to sameness. How often do you go to the same restaurant or eat the same food?

There is nothing wrong with any of this, per se, but look at flexing your ability to accept, process, talk about, and mourn the way things were to embrace how they are.

Becoming good at change and comfortable with the unknown is important here. Again, these are one and the same. Either we fear the unknown or we have a negative mental paradigm about how change will turn out for us, which kicks up fear as well.

Inside the guide, you will also find journal prompts to help you get more intimate with your relationship to change.

Once I began accepting change through my meditation practice and doing more spiritual work and inner inquiry about my relationship to change, I realized I just wanted things to be the same because it made me feel safe.

Yet, in my twenties, I realized avoiding change did not make me safe. It just made me stay the same. Once I understood this was an illusion of safety, I realized I could keep myself safe.

Changing Our Relationship to Fear

We might want to change our relationship to fear as well.

When you want to do something new, instead of calling what you feel fear, change it to anticipatory excitement. This makes the new thing less scary to try.

I also invite you to look for evidence of where you navigated change well. Think about your accomplishments in life, the hard things you’ve been through, and the challenges you’ve overcome. Where were you flexible and adaptable?

Being good at change is a skill we all need because changes will come whether we resist them or not.

While I have reframed the paradigm enough to see taking risks as exciting, part of me still worries when I think about aging. My husband is 10 years older than me, and I feel this fear of running out of time.

I work on these fears because the more present I am in what is right about my life, our life together, and our life here on the farm, the more I enjoy it.

One day, neither of us will be here. This will be someone else’s farm 100 years from now.

But focusing on these worries or resisting these changes is futile. I would rather work on getting good at change to make the most of my one and only amazing life. I hope this episode encourages you to do the same.

I am curious to know how this landed for you. How are you when it comes to change or fear of the unknown? Let me know over on Instagram (@terricole), and do not forget to download the guide because it is designed to help you flex your getting-good-with-change muscle.

Have an amazing week and as always, take care of you.

¹https://www.verywellmind.com/i-fear-change-how-to-cope-with-the-unknown-5189851

²https://lifehacker.com/why-youre-so-afraid-of-change-and-what-you-can-do-abou-5982622

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