Ask the experts: How can I let go of fear and embrace change?
Change is inevitable. It’s something that we’re all likely to experience at least once in our lifetimes, so why is it that, for many of us, the thought fills us with dread?
Fearing change is perfectly natural. Often, the anticipation of what’s to come can leave us feeling a little on the edge. Here, well-being and performance coach Sarah Clark explains how we can let go of this fear and start to embrace change.
Why might we fear change?
Change is a part of everyday life. We can’t not experience change – from the weather to our moods, external pressures that occur naturally and internal pressures we put on ourselves. The scary part of change is that we can feel out of control. It is being done to us rather than us embracing it. It can be exciting but also scary.
If something different is happening, we often don’t know for certain the outcomes of a course of action. We can feel out of control. As humans, we generally tend to like to know the end result – like when we jump out of a plane that our ripcord is going to work, for example! It takes courage, a hope of success and a whole load of resilience to enter into any change. Fear is your body letting you know that you are coming out of your comfort zone.
I often avoid new situations. Is this a sign that I am afraid of change?
When we are faced with something new we have a decision to make. It takes a great deal of weighing up the costs and the benefits of any new course of action before we try anything new. This takes up energy and requires a level of courage. It is often easier to do what we did than put ourselves through the unknown. It is natural to avoid new situations, however, if this is having a negative impact on our lives, this might be something we wish to address.
Other signs that we might be resisting change can include not seeking new experiences, turning down opportunities in work or personal life that come our way and having a fixed mindset where we see the risk of failure rather than hope for success. We might also notice increased avoidance strategies rather than approaching the change.
What are the possible consequences of avoiding change due to fear?
The biggest question we have to ask ourselves is, ‘What would our future self say to us in 20 or 40 years’ time when we look back?’ There is a strong case for living our lives so that we don’t look back in regret at the changes we could have embraced and the positive consequences we could have missed.
If we don’t embrace change, then the consequences are not only that we miss out on truly living but we also are limiting ourselves to a lack of personal development and learning. This is also the case for making changes happen despite feeling that fear!
Sarah’s top tips for embracing change
- Seek support to help address any ambivalence with the process of reflecting on what we might lose and what we might gain from making a change. It can be helpful to consider other people’s perspectives who are not so close to the subject matter. Talk it through and this can also help to get any fears into perspective.
- Accept that there might be a period of feeling totally out of our depth and uncomfortable. Knowing that this is the short-term discomfort from putting ourselves outside of our comfort zone for the longer-term gain can be really helpful.
- Focus on the goals of what the change is going to produce and visualise these. Picture the outcome. This is really helpful for not just putting the change into being but also for maintaining it.
- Believe in yourself and trust in your intuition!