Why are we so afraid of change?
Comfort and change seem like oxymorons. We yearn for comfort, especially when our lives feel precarious; our careers, relationships, and emotions sit perched on the edge of a cliff, vulnerable to even the slightest breeze of change. We seek comfort wherever we can, a lumpy couch we snuggle in after a bad day, the favorite dish we indulge . in when we’re feeling down, a view of the park that’s looked the same since we were allowed to walk there by ourselves. We find comfort in familiarity and solace in routine. A wise man, whose actual name no one can recall so it probably was a wise woman, once said,
“If you do not create change, change will create you.”
Comfort can be a shelter in a storm but after the storm passes, the world is not the same it was before and we have no choice but to come out into the sun, look around, embrace it, and continue living.
Change, unlike comfort, is not there to coddle us but to challenge us.
Our instincts are to avoid it, run away from it, incessantly seek this shelter from the constant change that accompanies the human condition. Yet, it is not comfort but change that marks our greatest progress and transformative moments in hindsight. Sure, in the moment, it’s frightening and chaotic, and we just want that couch with the soup and the view, but the ways we respond to change can help us understand the importance of this unavoidable and, frankly, inevitable force. We might even learn to become comfortable with change. Imagine that.
Power Tip 1: View change through the lens of growth
Internal change molds our person, forcing us to adapt and reassess the skills that once served us but are no longer pushing us in the direction we want to go. Becoming the person you want to be doesn’t happen overnight or in a bizarre freaky Friday ritual. Being a better person, a better athlete, a better friend, a better employee, all happens gradually once we can make small incremental changes in our everyday lives.
Framing change in this way, in a positive light, helps us overcome the fear and anxiety that might accompany it.
The truth is, change can be and should be intentional at times, and so, remind yourself you do have some control over it. Prove to yourself that you are able to commit to progress and self-improvement by actively fostering good (and manageable) changes in your behavior. Set aside time in your day to educate yourself on the world around you so you can understand how to help your community, set aside time to meditate, to call up a friend just to ask how they’re doing, to learn a new skill (online or otherwise) that would make you a more valuable asset to your company, to work out, to eat right, to get more vitamin D, to cook more, to just be better than who you were yesterday.
Power Tip 2: Recognize when you crave change
Being in a rut has its own way of forcing a change in your life. Surrounding yourself with the same people, the same ideas, and the same scenery is not only dull but can stagnate your progress. It’s important to have reliable foundations of friends and routines, but keeping an experience interesting and exciting is just as important. New beginnings, new relationships, new challenges, newness, in general, is a privilege that many people do not have.
Fear of the unknown isn’t always conquerable but when it is, it creates room for the thrill of possibility.
The first step then is to recognize which aspects of your life need a little sprucing. Are your romantic relationships getting stale, are the conversations you have with people redundant and boring, is your daily routine not inspiring creativity or enthusiasm? These are catalysts for change and taking risks to make these adjustments can foster confidence in yourself to overcome obstacles.
Power Tip 3: Find comfort in the hustle
Accepting change for what it is, a constant will help you conserve energy that would have otherwise been spent worrying and fearful of it. The coronavirus pandemic, the weeks of protests, being physically cut off from our friends and family, all have been unpredictable changes that we collectively adapted to. We educated ourselves, we engaged, and recuperated and engaged again, we found paths less traveled to stay connected to those around us. We engineered creativity from our homes, from our minds, some of us even found relief and growth from the upheaval of our former worlds. The effects of change are determined by how we process it and change can be processed as a tool rather than a weapon; it can help you move on from a painful past by generating new triumphs and reinforcing your personal growth, it can mark the start of a new lifestyle and routine that serves a higher version of yourself, it can manifest opportunities that wouldn’t have presented itself in the same humdrum of your routine.
Let’s get real: Change isn’t the enemy, but perspective might be. Lucky for us, perspectives are forever malleable and can be used to serve our goals. Change is constant but so is our resilience.
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