Overcoming Our Fear of Change

"I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear." —Rosa Parks

At Chocolate Villa, many of our conversations with the women and men that come through our doors have to do with finding your "next." Your "next" can range from a small change in the way you view or perform your current job to a complete career change. A large part of the Chocolate Villa experience is gaining insight into your authentic hopes and desires, both personal and professional. Tapping into your authentic self gives you the opportunity to intuitively know what your "next" should be.

But even after the critical moment when you realize what your "next" should be, a slight feeling of fear can start to creep in. With all the work and intense deliberation you've put into finding your "next," it can be very discouraging to feel this fear. When fear comes up, our instinct is often to push it away or ignore it, which can actually worsen the anxiety that surrounds it. Frightening questions begin to float through our mind: "If this is truly the best way forward for me, why am I feeling this fear? Is this a sign that I shouldn't take this step?"

Without acknowledging and exploring your fear of change, you risk letting it send you spiraling into a whirlpool of anxiety—effectively undoing all of the hard work you've done to find your "next."

The fear of change is primarily based on moving from the familiar—even if it's unpleasant—to the unfamiliar. It's natural to feel this fear: most human beings are programmed to fear the unknown, and to seek out stability and security. Fear of change is also synonymous to fear of failure—if you're afraid to fail, you may also be afraid to make big changes.

In the book Getting Unstuck: Breaking Through Your Barriers to Change, clinical psychologist Dr. Sidney B. Simon explains that fear of change—and fear of failure—can:

  • Persuade you to set easier goals and do less than your best
  • Lead you to create good reasons not to change (perhaps by painting a rosy picture of the here and now)
  • Cause indecisiveness and confusion which stop you from knowing what you really want
  • Keep you from asking for help when you need it or accepting support from others when offered
  • Distort your perception of your life and what you can do to make it better
  • Keep you from assessing yourself so you tend to settle for less
  • Lead to the development of unhealthy habits and behavior patterns (e.g. substance abuse or overeating)
  • Keep you from taking risks and therefore experiencing possible growth

Accept, feel, and lean into the fear that may arise. After all, fear has a purpose: it tells us when we should be on high alert for danger or potential loss. Explore it fully, and try to figure out what's at its core. Is it anxiety about money? A possibility that changing careers or going back to school could be the wrong decision? Or is it simply a nagging fear of the unknown, and of the change itself? Ask yourself how you define success: does success mean reaching a goal? If so, is that goal real and attainable? How do you define failure? What is the worst possible outcome of this change?

Digging deep into the core reasons behind the fear will ultimately allow you to let go of it. From there, researching, planning, and preparing for change will not only help you feel more in control of your "next"—it will also help you successfully achieve it.

Posted on October 17, 2016 .