Fear of Change
Sacrificing Comfortable Stagnation for Growth
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | May 2018 (edited December 7, 2021)
We fear change because we must leave our comfortable normal for something new.
We have power, freedoms to change; we aren’t confined to a predestined future. We can break free of the confines of our existence to become something better. The ghosts of the nursery may continue to haunt and even influence but can’t completely dictate our lives if we desire more. We may choose for better.
Changing trajectories is not simple. Childhoods, traumas and external factors punk us into reacting without thought; we often follow inclinations first and then justify the stagnating behaviors. We blindly continue down a path that life seemingly dictates. Pulling free from the limiting grooves of habitual living feels awkward. We trip, we stumble, and we doubt.
"The only thing I fear more than change is no change. The business of being static makes me nuts."
Sameness is Comforting
Significant change challenges resolves. The same ole life, the same ole disappointments, and the same ole comforts appeals to the senses; the pain we know lures us away from the pain we don’t. Many consciously claim a desire to change but oddly reject new opportunities, dismissing the opportunity by justifying their avoidance as wise. New challenges present a possibility of failure—at least short-term failure. Diverting course from comfortably known limits ignites the powerful anxieties of unknowns.
We get friendly with the reoccurring failures. The stumblings, the drama, the confines become comfortable—old friends we want to be around. We’ve learned to maintain status quo with the limiting relationships, dead-end career, and financial stresses. The repeating failures are palatable; we’re use to them. But new failures are more salient, proving our inadequacy, exposing our lack. So, we return to the same abusive partner, apply for the same dead-end jobs, and fail with the same diets.
We forget that failure while chasing new endeavors still expands our souls, delivering new experiences, and sharpening neglected skills. The courage to move forward sets a new standard; we face fear without bowing to it. Anxiety can’t be avoided if we want better. Anxiety can, however, be managed.
"One of my greatest fears is not being able to change, to be caught in a never-ending cycle of sameness."
Moving Through the Fear
By moving through fear, instead of away from it, we become free from the constraints of the past. The natural anxiety of newness reminds to proceed carefully, “watch out this is new territory.” We must remain mindful, carefully gathering information and seeking support. Newness pushes us from the automatic mode. We must expend energy to evaluate new stimuli.
Reliance on new knowledge and untested skills must be bolstered with determination; much more demanding than thoughtless actions in comfortable environments. If we chose, we may avoid anxiety by avoiding opportunity, comfortably staying with the same things, behaviors and people, living the comfortable mindless life. Perhaps, I suggest, if we do choose avoidance, we should accept the choice and stop complaining, living with the trade-off.
"We are afraid—we fear the unknown, we fear uncertainty, we fear failure and success—and our fear limits us, blocks us."
Don't Let Fear Dictate Your Life
When we fail to leave the confines of comfortable failure, for the greener pastures of opportunity, we are not a victim of circumstance but of fear. The fear dictates our life; not freedom.
Forages into unknown territory can only be accomplished from the stable mind. Security is essential; we need a secure base. We can’t continuously survive in the unknown wilderness. We do need the comfort of home. But for real growth, we must routinely brave travels beyond the secure boundaries of comfort, leaving normal behind momentarily and then return back to the warm shelter of home. Healthy growth requires both security and exploration. Some exploration is required to experience a richer, deeper life; A life of purpose.
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