As a life coach, I come across people who are driven by the fear of change often. The funny thing with fears is that they don’t allow us to comprehend their roots fully. As the subconscious mind wants to save us from the potential pain, it’ll do whatever is in its powers to make us not discover the true reasons behind our actions.
The same applies to the fear of change. To some extent, everyone has it, but some people may be observing their lives from the sidelines – afraid to act on what they know would change their life journey.
Everyone has a different inner threshold of what kind of change is acceptable and what is already too daring and may potentially bring us more harm than benefits.
The change is inevitable yet when you fear it, you build up a strong resistance which becomes your prison.
The fear of change rules your decisions
Six years ago, I ran a small experiment. I wanted to find out to which degree the fear of change rules our lives. For a span of 4 weeks, I’d observe my own choices and also interviewed other 6 people to see how the fear runs our life.
The more I became aware of such behavior, the more I could see the clear patterns of fear penetrating one’s life. The fear, in general, is one of the primary impulses for people’s decisions. Most of it happens unconsciously.
You might know what the right thing to do is, but you allow the fear to creep in and keep you stuck in your comfort zone. Generally speaking, we may not always strive to reach our highest potential, even if we know which steps would lead us there.
Because we’re afraid to change, we build up a whole system of supporting beliefs and lies that we keep telling ourselves to justify our decisions. In time, we may get so far away from our true selves that we don’t even remember what it means.
Our human minds always try to reason why we haven’t done something or why we can’t achieve something if we don’t feel emotionally and mentally ready for the change.
Think about how your life would change if you would always do what is in alignment with your higher self!
Where would you be now if you acted on what is best for you instead of what may be the easiest or most comfortable choice?
Where would you be one year from now if you accepted the change and didn’t let anything stop you?
5 Reasons why the fear of change runs your life
1. Meet your inner saboteur
Unfortunately, each of us has an inner saboteur. This is the unconscious part of you, which makes you second-guess your feelings and choices. It advises you not to be too visible and too much of yourself because others may not handle it.
When you have an opportunity to start your own business or get a promotion at work, your saboteur readily rushes in and makes you do or say things that you wouldn’t do otherwise. Consequently, you regret it and may even wonder why did you do that.
The inner saboteur is also happy to act through you in the matter of love and finance. If you start having too much money, it may suggest you spend it with an encouragement that you deserve it. If your relationships go too smoothly or you meet the person who could be the one, you may unconsciously create a drama to make sure that you stay in the old familiar waters.
Your inner saboteur does its best to keep you safe and protected in the familiarity of what you’re used to.
If the subconscious equations in your mind read that you’re not the person who would achieve XYZ, then you make sure that you’ll sabotage your chances for success.
2. Status quo
We, humans, are habitual beings. We like everything familiar with clear edges and structures. Most of the people never ask themselves what is outside of these edges because they feel comfortable in their status quo.
It’s our inner self-protective mechanism that urges us to stay in the comfort zone. Our minds adopt the way of thinking of our parents and community. We like to be surrounded by the familiar.
Thus not so many people choose to travel to distant countries and cultures, for instance. Or they choose to surround themselves with friends who are like themselves. Together they judge the behavior of anyone who is different.
When we come across something unknown, we tend to hesitate before we decide to try that new thing. In our minds, we believe that such a choice is smart, and it may be in most cases, but we don’t realize how much time and energy we spend on overthinking our lives.
3. The mind works with the past
Another reason for fear of change is that the mind only works with past information.
The mind only compiles the pieces of our past experiences. Including what we heard from others, thus it doesn’t need to be our direct experience. Therefore, we may believe that something is true only because it matches our own experience.
When we encounter something brand new, the mind doesn’t know what to do with that information. I don’t know if it ever happened to you that you visited a new place, or studied a new language, or saw something that you didn’t understand and for a moment or two, you didn’t know what to think about it. Your mind was blank.
It certainly happened to me, and I find it most interesting because it shows us that before we label things, we simply stand in the presence of the new thing or situation without our mind judging what it is.
Any unfamiliar change is assessed by the mind as “an error factor” because the mind doesn’t find any evidence or information for this uncharted land.
4. Confirmation bias
You might be surprised how many people struggle to think outside the lines. When you come across a topic that the mind doesn’t have experience with, it tries to shut the topic down. Or fit it into the frame of your understanding.
The confirmation bias is related to the previous part of the article as the mind works hard to understand something new. You can imagine it as a computer program which doesn’t know how to handle new features. We have to reprogram the old program or upgrade to a higher version, just like our way of thinking.
To depict how the confirmation bias works, imagine a person who spends most of his time reading news about politics. One day, this person, let’s call him Jim, reads the news where is written that his favorite party leader (and his hero) committed a fraud.
Suddenly, Jim doesn’t know what to think about it because it’s outside of his beliefs. After some thinking, his brain dismisses this information as fake. Hence Jim might grow into believing that someone set a trap for the poor party leader. Simply, Jim’s brain isn’t capable of incorporating new evidence into the framework of his rigorous beliefs.
5. Ego and identity
The ego is the part of our minds, which is the homeland of fears and doubts. It’s also our shadow self, which contains our greatest secrets, even the ones that we’re not aware of.
The ego builds a false identity around who we wish to be. Especially to display it to others. If you’re a person who identifies himself with a lucrative corporate position, then you may resist leaving that job. Even if it means that you don’t have time for your children or you’re unhappy.
Or if you believe that you can figure everything out, you don’t reach out for help and might suffer from the same issues for years.
The ego likes our minds playing out the same dysfunctional tapes on the loop. It gathers evidence and perfectly crafts the stories about why we can’t have what we desire. When we don’t question our deepest beliefs, they keep us playing small in life.
The fear of change is widespread. And it’s the reason why it takes a long time for us to act on what we know would be beneficial for us. You might see a child, parent, or friend who is visibly complicating their lives, but you can’t save them (even if you had the tools) because they become imprisoned by the beliefs of their minds.
As I said, the change is inevitable, but the quality of change is an entirely different topic.
Now, the question is, what kind of change do you wish to see in your life?