Secretly have a fear of change but hate to admit it? You are in good company.
What does a fear of change look like?
We can deny to ourselves we fear change. But when life starts to shuffle the cards, does this sound familiar?
And if you start a new adventure with enthusiasm, do you somehow always ends up deciding that ‘things just worked better the old way’?
Welcome to the ‘fear of change club’.
7 Reasons why you suffer from fear of change
The first step in learning to manage your fear of change is to understand your response to change in the first place. Here are some very good reasons you might have a fear of change.
1. It’s simply evolutionary.
Even though we are modern people, our minds are still on cave man time. We are still ‘designed’ to react to any perceived danger with a massive ‘fight or flight’ response that leaves our bodies reeling, awash in adrenaline. And our bodies can act this way to any sort of new change, whether we like it or not. Some people like this sensation or even seek it. But some of us find it too much.
2. You had a bad past experience around change.
It’s again a case of your unconscious running the show. Perhaps as a child you moved house, and within a week your parents split up. You would register that change leads to bad things happening, and as an adult you would avoid change in order to avoid danger.
3. You have negative core beliefs about change.
What the above example shows is what’s called a ‘core belief‘. Something happens to us that affects us so deeply we take on board a world view that sticks for years, if not life. Unless we don’t manage to catch it for what it is – a belief that no longer serves us and is rarely true. Other core beliefs that can cause you to avoid change are ones like “the world is a dangerous place’, ‘bad things always happen to me‘, ‘I am unlucky‘, and ‘if I try anything new I always fail’.
4. You hate losing.
As that last core belief illustrates, many of us live in fear of failing. Change inevitably sets up a scenario where we can either win, or lose. And it can feel better to avoid taking the chance then putting yourself in line to be a loser.
5. Your brain is a miser and it’s running the show.
Psychologist Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel prize for developing a theor called “Prospect theory”. It states that we make decisions on possible losses and gains, instead of seeing the big picture and end outcome. So next time you stay in a bad relationship or job you know was wrong just because “you’d already invested so much in it’? You can blame it on your brain.
6. It’s actually obligation that you hate.
The thing with change is that, inevitably, it involves other people. And a worry many of us have is that if we change, others will want things from us. If you take a promotion, your boss will expect more. If you move to the less distracting countryside, your partner will expect more attention. And of course behind all that is a fear of letting people down.
7. You are mistaking fear with expanding your comfort zone.
Often we hate change because we can’t stand the uncomfortable feelings it brings that we identify as fear. And the second we feel this ‘fear’ we convince ourselves that ‘our instincts are telling us that it’s a bad choice’.
But is it fear? Sometimes, maybe. But other times, it can actually just be that you are expanding your comfort zone, which never feels easy.
Are some of us just naturally more ‘change sensitive’?
Possibly, if a well known idea and now series of books about ‘highly sensitive people’ (HSPs) is anything to go by. The author and creator of the concept, psychotherapist Elaine Aron, believes that up to 2o per cent of us biologically have a more sensitive make up, leaving us very prone to reacting to our environments and to any changes that occur.
And here’s the hard truth about change…
Nobody is completely comfortable with change.
Successful ‘change navigators’ report that the more change they experience, the greater, not less, their fight and flight response gets.
So that feeling that might be fear and might just be stretching your comfort zone doesn’t get easier, it gets bigger.
What can change is your capacity to see it through.
Highly successful people have done one thing. They have accepted the inevitability of change and the accompanying discomfort it brings. How would your life be different if you decided to accept change and its challenges from this moment on?
The secret ingredient to overcoming a fear of change?
What do those same people who navigate fear more easily also do? Accept help. Sometimes what we need is simply a new perspective that knocks us out of our black and white thinking and has us feeling more confident. It’s a show of strength to ask for assistance, and can make the way forward much more smooth then going it alone ever can.
Overwhelmed by all that life is throwing at you lately? We connect you with an elite team of highly experienced talk therapists in London that can help with stress and life change. Or use our sister therapy listings site to find UK wide therapists that help with change.
pictures by Phil Whitehouse, And ya don’t stop, Shawn Carpenter, Celestine Chua.
Andrea M. Darcy is a mental health and wellbeing expert and writer. She also runs a consultancy helping people find their perfect therapy and therapist. Her life has had more change in it than that of anyone else that she knows, including living on four different continents. Follow her on Instagram for useful life tips @am_darcy