Overcoming the Fear of Change
For nearly twenty years I’ve worked in mental health and I have recently adopted the phrase “Therapy is for the brave, not the broken” while incorporating this philosophy into my work. I admire everyone that decides to sit on my couch. Facing your issues is painful and intimidating. Some patients are nearly coming apart at the seams because they’re overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. Despite that fear and anxiety, they still show up, which I truly believe is admirable. We’re all broken to some degree. All of us. Even worse, almost all of us were convinced at young ages that we were broken and flawed and in need of some kind of redemption.
So many males have been convinced that they are born with the original sin of being born as a male and so many of us end up running on a mental hamster wheel trying to find redemption from that. When we realize that so many things we were told are lies and we realize that we are miserable and unhappy, we seek change. Some people hit what they believe is their rock bottom while others hit the bottom and start digging. If you’re reading this, hopefully it doesn’t have to get that bad for you. Hopefully you consider the possibility of change before you dig too deep.
In my line of work, I find that people avoid change because they are usually overwhelmed by the fear that is brought on by uncertainty and the unknown. A lot of scary questions can cross our minds. “Will bad things happen to me? Will my life fall apart? Will people abandon me? Will I become someone who is selfish or bad? Will people stop loving me? What will everybody else think about me? What if, what if, what if?” It never ends unless we take control of where our mind goes but more on that later.
When people are dominated by fear, it is extremely difficult for them to see what becomes possible after making changes. Hopefully in the process they also realize how irrational their fears really are. I have the luxury of being a therapist that sits outside of the emotional storms that people are experiencing. I’m not plugged into their individual matrix.
I often know that their fears are unfounded and more of an illusion not based in any reality. The nature of our fears are often the product of mental and emotional programming. Most of us are afraid because we have been told we should be afraid and no other reason. In generations past there were real dangers. Invading forces, disease, dangerous animals and the like. People were afraid of things that could and likely would kill them. What are we afraid of in the 21st century? A lot of people are just as afraid of what people might think of them. They are afraid of it as though it could kill them. It’s nonsense, there is no good reason to be afraid of this. In this day and age with modern technology and laws and ethics, there really isn’t many reasons to actually be afraid like our caveman ancestors. People just are and to the extent that it paralyzes them. When you’re able to break free, you will experience happiness and freedom in ways you wouldn’t think possible. I speak from experience. It’s the best thing ever.
What Will Happen if You Don’t Change?
We are undoubtedly hardwired to fear change. In generations past, those that feared change and avoided it were probably more likely to avoid danger but times have changed. Uncertainty and the unknown is intimidating to be sure and if you fear change, stop and ask yourself, what will your life be like if you don’t change? What will your life look like down the road if you don’t improve your self-esteem, if you don’t deal with your depression or end that bad relationship? What will happen if you don’t lose that weight or get out of that dead-end job? What will your life look like down the road if you don’t step outside of your comfort zone and make new friends? What will your life look like if things don’t improve in five years? Ten years? You will be much better off if you can develop a healthy sense of what will happen if you don’t change?
When we allow fear to dominate our attitudes and attempts to make changes we also eliminate what could be possible for our life. If you fear change, ask yourself, honestly, why? Why do you fear change? Is it based in evidence or experience or is it based on emotion and feelings? Most of us that fear change do so for one reason, we’ve been told to be afraid of it. And in that regard, it’s not real, it’s an illusion and sometimes one perpetuated by people that desire and seek control over others. “Be afraid of change. Really afraid of it. Because I said so.” Experience and action tend to chase off much of the fear. Your life won’t fall apart if you take a couple of small simple steps, so why not take them? I often find it staggering to see the level of fear that people foster about change, it’s almost tragic in the sense that this fear truly barricades them from potentially incredible and amazing things. What if the truth was that your fears were keeping you from truly living?
Caving to this kind of fear is a strong sign that a man is still very much a boy, at least mentally. Distinguished strong men don’t listen to baseless fears. Facing it is what makes them stand out. It’s what makes them exceptional. Being afraid of something just because we were told to be afraid of it is childish and immature. For when we learn to manage our fears is when we can really start to live and break out of our mental prisons. There’s a good chance that you know at least one person that lives without fear. Someone who speaks and lives their truth without bowing to the worries that people won’t approve. Are their lives a disaster? Have they lost everything? Do they live in pain or regret? Of course not. The opposite is true. Those individuals tend to be the objects of envy. We wish that we were them. We wish that we could live authentically and emancipated from fear. The truth is that we can and there is little that separates us from them other than what goes through their head.
Managing Your Fear
So here is a quick easy exercise that you can do. This is an example of how you can start to manage your mental game. On a piece of paper or on computer document, make three columns and follow these steps.
- In one column write down your fears. Make a list. Be honest and thorough, write all of them down.
- In the second column, next to each fear that you listed, write down whether or not you have supporting evidence for that fear. In other words, is this fear supported by evidence or is it just emotion? Are you afraid of something because of evidence or experience or are you afraid of it because you were told to be afraid of it. Here’s the key. Emotions and feelings are not evidence. If you believe that feelings are facts than you need to make a change to your thinking. If you are unable to do so, then you can expect a life with more chaos, uncertainty and dysfunction.
- In the third column write down any evidence that indicates that the fear is bogus. For example, maybe the fear listed is that if you make a job change, your life, marriage and finances will fall apart. What evidence is there that this fear is bogus? Maybe you’ve seen other people make this change with positive results. Maybe you find job openings that come with better starting pay. Is that possible?
Keep in mind that regardless of your personal circumstances, the person that is keeping you from being exceptional is most likely you. Make today the first day of a new life. Subscribe to our newsletter and join our online community at community.theorionway.com today.