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Is change essential? Is it normal to be afraid of change?

Sometimes our professional success, our relationships, or our personal well-being get stuck in a tunnel from which we just can't see our way out.

This is due, most of the time, to the fear of change.

Being stuck in a relationship that no longer makes us feel good, continuing to do a job that doesn't make us happy, hanging out with friends we no longer feel comfortable with...

Sound familiar?

 

Here are 7 reasons why we are afraid of change in our lives. 

1- We are afraid of the unknown

It's called the unknown, and it's scary for everyone or almost everyone.

"You know what you leave behind, but you don't know what you find".

The difficulty we find in our choices, from the simple everyday ones to the big life-changing ones is mainly due to the fact that we fear what we do not know. 

It can be challenging to let go of that fear.

In reality, it is a subconscious attitude that goes back to the primal instincts of human beings: we recognise that what we have experienced is safe, while what has never been experienced makes us insecure, vulnerable, and unstable.

When we are about to make a choice that could lead to change, our innate 'safety mechanism' is triggered: if I do what I have always done, everything will be fine, because I know how to deal with it.

If, when you have to make a choice, your first thought is "what if...", then you too are playing the game of fear.

It would be very reassuring if we had a crystal ball and could know what will happen, wouldn't it?

But if you remember the film Sliding Doors, where the life of a woman doubled after she took/not took the train home, then you should know that nothing can be predicted and that this is often a good thing.

"Whatever you choose, whatever you do, that choice will bring you opportunities you would never have considered".

The moral is: there are no wrong choices, there are only different opportunities.

 

 2- We don't think we can do it

 The second step we take is to NOT believe in ourselves.

"I can't do it!".

Looking at the end goals often makes us feel small and powerless, but the truth is that sometimes those goals only become achievable if we leave our comfort zone and throw ourselves into trying something new.

In the end, you can at least say you tried.

It is always better to fail after trying than to regret never having tried.

You have to learn to accept that all the changes in life have to be dealt with one step at a time, without rushing.

In time we will be able to recognise the awareness we have gained by embarking on something that seemed bigger than ourselves.

Change makes us stronger and more confident.

In order not to fall into insecurity, we should never compare ourselves to others, and always remember that "every expert was once a beginner".

 

 3- We may feel alone

 Feeling lonely, as if no one else in the world could understand us in that hard moment. 

We feel in need of reassurance, or maybe a hug.

In fact, sometimes it would make us feel better if someone else made the decision for us.

Feeling the weight of responsibility attached to a choice makes us feel oppressed.

But we know from our own experience that once we have made that decision, however much effort it may have cost us, we will feel relieved, and above all, less alone.

 

4- We forget that we always have a choice

Often when you are trying to make a big decision, you think you only have one choice if you don't want to accept the current situation.

For example, you can stay in a job you hate or you can quit and be unemployed, then you add the thought...' unemployed = starving and I will never be able to find another job', therefore 'no job = I will starve'.

Wrong! You always have another choice.

As hard as it is sometimes to see, there is always another option.

It may take a bit of brainstorming to come up with possible solutions, but rarely will there be no option.

It isn’t that job or no job.

It isn’t that relationship or no relationship.

It isn't that opportunity or no opportunity at all.

And, again, the certain answer is just beyond the leap of faith.

 

5- We focus on others instead of ourselves

Another problem we face when experiencing change is that we tend to focus on the outside world to define our identity and value (what kind of work we do, how well we do it, how much others respect us, etc.).

The needle on the emotional scale hangs on others rather than on ourselves.

Let's remember that our identity and worth are not in the eyes or words of others, but depend solely on us.

Of course, it is nice to be liked and accepted by others, but the validation of what we do and who we are must come from the depths of our heart, and only from there.

Once we have realised this, we will be able to enjoy the pleasant feeling of being satisfied with ourselves.

Also, being able to live the life we really want is much more important than feeling trapped in a job we can’t stand because we have to pay the bills.

If you stop and think about it for a moment, all that matters are the experiences you have had, the emotions you have felt, and which have made you the person you are, who you loved, and who you love.

Not where you work or the car you drive....and hear me out: not even the opinions of others.

 

6- We get too attached to things

Apart from focusing on the outside world, another small (human) mistake we make is to become too emotionally attached to things. Material things, and past moments.

The fear of changing a job, a relationship, a house is also due to the emotional attachment we have developed. 

If we move to another city, we are frightened by the idea of no longer walking on those familiar streets, and might make us sad to lose those little habits.

When it comes to love, this is even more complicated...the habits developed together, the routine, those securities...

Even if love ends, the fear of losing it is so strong that it can paralyse us.

This may keep us stuck in toxic and unhappy relationships for years because we are too afraid to say goodbye to those things rather than to the other person.

But we must not allow our attachment to the walls of a house, an object, a habit, to prevent us from evolving, because that is what it is all about: change is evolution, there would be no life without change.

Change, even if difficult, is necessary.

 

7- We forget that change comes and goes

The worst part of being afraid of change is that one forgets that change is only temporary. If you think of it that way, it is already less scary, right?

The truth is that what scares us is the lack of control over how things may turn out.

But even that phase of change is temporary, it will not last forever...and then comes another moment of stillness...and then more change...and so on.

Everything changes, all the time.

Don't let your fear be stronger than your desire to live up to your full potential.

 

Journal prompts

  • Name your fears. Complete the following sentence: “I am afraid that . . .” 
  • Explore the root cause of your fear. Once you have identified your fear(s), ask yourself: What is my earliest memory of this fear? How old was I? Was it triggered by an event in my life?
  • What happens in your body when you feel fearful?
  • Personify your fear. If your fear were a person, what would he/she/they look like? Describe your fear’s physical attributes in detail and give your fear a name.
  • Have a conversation with your fear. Ask the following questions (and any others that are relevant to you).
    • What does your fear hope to accomplish in your life?
    • How does your fear feel about you?
    • Does your fear trust you? Why or why not?
    • What is your fear afraid of?
  • Can you appreciate the positive side of fear? what can you learn from your fear? What would happen if you changed your relationship with fear?

 

Love, Carlotta

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