Fear in the Midst of Change
“It’s this simple: If I never try anything, I never learn anything. If I never take a risk,
I stay where I am.”
We recently discussed fear as it relates to making a choice to change. However, once we are in the midst of change we may find ourselves still confronting our fears. We may begin to experience doubts, become frustrated with the time it is taking to make the change, feel as if our support system has abandoned us, or we are simply just tired which leaves us feeling like we should give up and return to status quo.
How do we overcome challenges when in the middle of change? First, you have to remind yourself about your “why”. You chose to make a change for any number of reasons and revisiting these reasons and reaffirming that this is the change that you want will solidify your movement forward. Are your “whys” strong enough to keep your momentum going? If so, can you recommit to them is a concrete way? A tool my clients often use is to write down their “whys” down so that they are visible reminders to them. Post-it notes work great for this process and they are small enough that they can be on your bathroom mirror, in your cars, on your computers and even on your refrigerator. Jack Canfield in “The Principles of Success” shares that a constant reminder of what it is we want to accomplish serves to reinforce it throughout the day. Another tool is to create an inventory of successes that you have had so that you can stay focused on the ultimate goal. Although change can be a slow process there are definitely milestones along the way that can be measured.
Second, an element of courage to continue in the change process is needed to here. You have to believe that the change you want to make happen is possible. Wayne Dyer in “You’ll See It When You Believe it” emphasizes the role of our thoughts which lead to our beliefs in facing our fears. As with many of Dr. Dyer’s publications, he guides us to watch our thoughts for it is in our thoughts that fear arises. What is the conversation you are having with yourself about this change? The power of self-talk cannot be underestimated. When we find ourselves shuffling through the negative aspects of the desired change we are setting ourselves up for failure. Negativity attracts more negativity and creates a downward spiral as we this can also draw negativity from our support systems. It is natural for our support systems to question the benefits of the change if we only share what is problematic about the change with them.
Susan Jeffers in “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” shares a couple of truths about fears. The first is that when we are stretching and growing fear does not disappear. Instead, it is continually with us in the form of doubt. It is only when we begin to develop confidence in ourselves that we are able to mitigate and make friends with the fears that show up. The second fear that accompanies us on our change journeys is actually waiting for the fear to go away in order to take action. We believe that we will take action when the fear goes away which actually keeps us stuck as it is action that removes fear. Finally, understanding that everyone experiences fear as part of their journey gives us solace that we are not alone. We may have an unrealistic belief about others as they confront their own fears in their journeys thinking they do not have fear. What is true is that often others have made friends with their fears and found a place for them so that they can move forward.
Finally, fear puts our brains into a negative mindset and induces worry. Hugh Prather in “The Little Book of Letting Go” shares that there are several attitudes that enable the worrier. First, believing that it is natural to worry. We develop this belief because we know so many people who do worry and accept it as a natural part of living. Actually, Prather tells us that it is not natural and it is possible to let go of worrying. Next, we believe that if we don’t worry, we are at a greater risk because we have not accounted for all of the negative things that can happen. We need to surface both expected outcomes and unintended consequences of action and then make a decision without worrying about either one. And last, when things are going well, you should probably start to worry. This line of thinking can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we look for things to happen, we can sometimes make them happen.
In the middle of change we often have to confront our fears of moving forward. There can be a range of fears-some explored in this blog, as well as others. It becomes your challenge to determine the source of your fear and then build a plan to mitigate or manage it. One of the best places to start is your thoughts and from there the plan can unfold.
To Your Success!
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