Fear of change: how to take the risk?

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Robert Maurer


Fear of change: how to take the risk?

Last update: July 03, 2018

If you are afraid of change and it has hindered you all your life, don't think you are alone. It is a very common attitude and it is for a specific reason. The fear of change can be helpful in some circumstances, but it is paralyzing in others. Let's explore together.

Fear of change is a useful feeling when it comes to adapting to a situation, but it can become a serious obstacle. It is something we have learned throughout our lives, inherited from our parents, teachers, friends or even from our culture.

Folk wisdom often advises us to be cautious about making a decision that leads to change. The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa is a clear example of this, the protagonists embody the old saying “better an evil already known than a good not experienced”. Popular common sense warns us of the possible risks associated with change. However, taken literally, this advice becomes a limitation that prevents us from changing when it is vital.

We prefer to avoid risk and keep the "evil", uncomfortable, but familiar, rather than face the unknown. In other words, we choose to stay in our comfort zone.

The comfort zone

The comfort zone is that place or state of mind where we seemingly feel comfortable and safe. This feeling is due to the fact that we stop in a dimension that we know and from which we know what to expect. The comfort zone can also be a physical place, but always linked to that sense of safety and mental ease that is not necessarily synonymous with well-being.

It is not negative in itself, but it becomes so when we settle down knowing that it is not healthy, which holds back our personal growth and happiness. When it becomes a blocking stump, we need to start asking ourselves a few questions.

But how to do it? First, by reflecting on the reasons for our behavior and, above all, by understanding what we want to achieve. Are we staying there out of habit or out of necessity? Does this feeling of security arise from fear or rather from comfort?

If we do not change anything, we will certainly feel that the risks are less. But is it always like this? In reality, staying where we are carries a huge risk, that of never being happy. Taking a step is scary, sometimes terrifying, but it's just fear of the unknown.

Fear of change

Why is change so scary? How many proposals have we rejected to avoid a risk? Perhaps many and in all areas of our life.

Sometimes we decide to accept an unpleasant situation. We prefer to endure in order not to face the possible negative consequences of change, forgetting the possible positive consequences. And our happiness?

Being cautious is a positive and beneficial attitude, it protects us in many situations. Those who do not risk, however, neither win nor lose. In other words, we remain in that state of normality that we have created. However, life is constantly changing and, at times, we have to take a risk to grow as human beings, as a couple, as professionals, economically.

Change scares us, because it is fraught with uncertainty, the impossibility of predicting results and consequences. It might lead to improvement or maybe not. The point is that there are times when taking risks is essential and things don't always go wrong.

How to deal with the fear of change?

It's a hard question. There is no secret formula. All changes are subject to more than one variable, some of which are beyond our control. This is an aspect that we must not forget, but that must not discourage us.

When we decide to make a change in our life, it is very important to clarify the motivation that drives us to do so. If we have already understood the reason for our decision, we are halfway there.

Change can be scary, it's a normal reaction. Fear is an emotion that warns us of dangers; we must listen to it and understand what it is saying to us; and we must listen to ourselves.

A good exercise is to name fear, give it a face: so it will be easier to understand what terrain we are venturing into. This, together with the answers about our motivations, will give us the strength needed to face the change.

Risking to grow

This does not mean that we must live by continually risking, but when we feel that an aspect of our life is not going right, it is necessary to take the risk and change. 

Being prudent in making an important decision is always a valid attitude, but we must not get stuck in a situation that we perceive as tight or that precludes our growth. 

Sometimes it is not necessary to make a big change, but to change small details that make a difference. The important thing is to be aware of it, to cultivate the necessary strength to move forward and to start being courageous. We are the only ones responsible for our happiness, it is up to us to decide to take one path or another.

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