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Why do we fear change?

Dr. Elizma van der Smit

 

Accordingto Shannon Skae, we all go through different life events and new experiences,
such as changing schools, moving to a new city, changing jobs, possibly moving
countries, and changing lifestyles.

Thiscan all be frightening because it is unknown. Changes in our circumstances can
bring about anxiety because we must start all over again and move away from our
comfort zone, especially if the change is out of our control. This can also
possibly cause feelings of disempowerment or loss.

Weare naturally wired to fear change as humans. We prefer routine and
consistency. Change brings a lack of safety because we do not know whether the
change will be good or bad for us. This dates back to our ancestors who wanted
structure and routine – otherwise, there could be dehydration, lack of
resources, and even death.

Ourmental health also fares best when we have routine and control. If we lose this
sense of safety, our mental health can take a dip. When we follow a routine,
our life is predictable, relieving anxiety and stress.

Accordingto uopeople.edu, it takes work to realize that at some point in life,everything was once an unknown. It takes courage and action to move toward a
path of positivity and beneficial outcomes. That’s why it’s so necessary to
work towards a mindset that can welcome and embrace change.

Ways to Overcome the Fear of Change

Here are some tried and true ways to help you overcome the fearof change. Everyone needs their own practice to find the right solution, but
these ideas are a good starting place to find what works for you:

1. Embrace change and vulnerability:

Being vulnerable puts you in a place where you can face yourfears. It’s accepting that you may not have control, but you can overcome and
manage any circumstance or situation you face. When you can welcome change
(with all its potential good and bad), you can regain a sense of power.

2. Break things up into smaller pieces:

You don’t have to work in extremes. For example, you may havemany aspects of your life that will require change. Trying to face all these
changes at once is undoubtedly overwhelming. Instead, break things down into
smaller pieces.

3. Know your why:

By defining your purpose, you can diminish your fear of change.If you don’t know what you want, then any decision can be scary. But if you
first understand your “why,” then when you must make decisions or a change, you
can ask yourself if it will align with your purpose. This can help to eliminate
options that don’t work towards achieving goals.

4. Have hopes for the best and plans for the worst case:

While you can’t always control for outcomes, you can have plans.Know what you will do if something fails miserably so you can reduce the
consequences as much as possible. And, to keep a positive outlook, hope for the
best because your positive energy can help to create positive outcomes.

5. Surround yourself with supporters:

In life, you’ll always have both negative and positive peoplearound you. Try to recognize critics and cynical people and quiet their impact
on your mind. Instead, leverage the people in your life who offer support and
help to guide you in the right direction.

6. Practice “What if” positively:

Often, when we don’t know what will happen, we default to theworst-case scenarios. Instead, you can practice asking yourself, “what if it
works out?” to consider the potential good outcomes that can occur. In this
way, you can help the fear of change fade away.

7. Practice repetition:

Like an athlete’s muscle memory, you can train your brain tofollow a path of positive feedback rather than a negative feedback loop. You must
embrace change and remind yourself of all the times you made a change, and it
worked out for the better. That way, you can condition your brain to embrace
change rather than fear it.

8. Reward yourself:

When you make a change, you must find ways to reward yourself.It doesn’t have to be anything tangible. You can train your mind to believe
you’re gaining a new positive reward, even if you are removing something from
your life.

9. Ask the right questions:

Ask yourself what you are so afraid of before embarking on anychange. You can then write down the potential outcomes and aspects you fear
most. From this list, you can do some research to mitigate these results.
Knowing what you fear will allow you to overcome the fear and approach change
rationally.

10. Be present:

While the past can be a teacher, you need to focus on where youare now to move forward. Use the information you have in the here and now to
make decisions based on your current situation. Living in the future is unknown
and adds to anxiety. Being in the now opens the door to opportunity.

Bringing It All Together

It’s human nature to fearchange. Our brains are wired to like to be in control and know what is
happening and when it is happening. This is for survival and protection.

However, life is unpredictable.As such, it’s important to learn to accept the unknown and practice a positive
mindset when approaching change.

Resources

https://grocotts.ru.ac.za/2022/06/15/why-is-change-so-scary/#
https://www.uopeople.edu/blog/why-you-have-fear-of-change-all-the-ways-to-overcome-it/

This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393. 

 

This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.