November is a transitional month that comes between fall and winter. We see the change from beautifully colored leaves to bare trees; new officials have been elected to replace others; the hours of daylight get shorter and temperatures get cooler. For some of us, transition and change are frightening and life adjustments are difficult to handle. Throughout our lives, we experience all types of change. There are ways to learn to live with the fear of change and learn to move on to a more interesting and fulfilling life.
Many people will stay at a boring job or a career that they have no passion for just because they are afraid of taking the steps to embark on an entirely new and different path. They spend their days miserable, counting down the months until they can retire because to them it is preferable to striking out in a new profession.
Another common example of fear of change is when people stay in an unfulfilling romantic relationship because they are terrified of being single, or of the effort and risk involved in trying to find a different partner. People will coast along in a lackluster relationship and will even marry that person because they are scared of breaking up. They would rather hold on to what they’ve got, rather than risk the unknown to search for a new positive relationship. Fear of Personal Change
Some people are so afraid of change that they will keep the same haircut, wear the same makeup colors and dress in the same style of clothing without ever trying something new. They feel paralyzed to change something that they perceive as the key to their identity to others, even if they themselves no longer identify with it. Sometimes people are even fearful of moving into a new home because they cling to the comfort of that location. In reality, this is simply a structure and those feelings of comfort will be renewed in a new home.
Struggling with fear of change can trap us into living a life that we don’t want. While change may seem terrifying, the real tragedy is living a life that doesn’t bring us any joy. According to Clinical Psychologist Dr. Samantha Rodman, for some, therapy is necessary to help them understand what to really fear in life. However, many of us can try to overcome these fears with baby steps rather than attending dedicated therapy sessions.
A positive way to alleviate the fear of change is to replace small moments of complacency with ingenuity. Instead of thinking ‘there is no better way,’ change that thought to ‘there has got to be a better way.’ Keep practicing this new thought pattern until it becomes your default response. This will help that fear of change dissolve. It is also important to surround ourselves with positive people who are cheerleaders, providing support and encouragement for embracing change. We need to be clear about our purpose, knowing what actions are needed and how to take those actions so we are better prepared.
Oprah Winfrey says, “Accept that nothing lasts forever and you’ll start to appreciate the advantages of whatever age you are now.” Don’t let fear interfere with your decision-making. As we make small steps to take control of what we can change, we will develop our courage to accept change, anticipate change and even embrace change. Any type of change is a learning experience.