Are you afraid of change?
For most of my life, I’ve told myself the story that “I’m not good with change.” Very recently I’ve realized what complete rubbish this is, because as sentient beings we are constantly going through transformations and reinventing ourselves, whether by choice or by force. Change is a critical part of being human; it’s how we grow and evolve individually and as collectively as a society.
The truth is, it’s not that I wasn’t good with accepting changes; it’s that I was scared shitless of what change meant. I told myself the story that change was bad, and because of the negative connotation I gave it, it meant that it was something big and scary to be avoided at all costs.
A lot of times, we hold onto things and people so tightly because we’re afraid of losing them or afraid of the unknown. We cling to our own limiting beliefs and begin down the path of self-sabotage because we can’t see and don’t understand that while change can be scary and can sometimes cause more pain and suffering as we work through it, the transformation that occurs through change is miraculous.
In the past, I’ve stayed in relationships and at jobs that had long passed their expiration date simply because I was afraid of what was on the other side of the pond. I would use excuses to stay stuck in those relationships and jobs (i.e. “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not qualified enough,” “I’m not skinny enough,” “I’ll be alone forever,” and so on and so forth) simply because I didn’t like that the alternative meant I needed to immediately deal with some unpleasant feelings and consequences, even though it’s what I was feeling called to do.
I remember with one particular relationship, I had known that it was time to part ways for a loooong time (much longer than I’d like to admit), but I was afraid to hurt him and was also afraid to be by myself because I hadn’t been alone in several years. I kept putting it off until eventually it imploded and I was no longer left to deal with that change on my terms.
It’s easier to continue down the path of least resistance and stay stuck in our old habits, thought patterns, and stories because it requires little to no effort on our part. We ignore our intuition that provides us with instinctual feelings and subtle clues on how to get to where we want to be and suffer greatly for it. We drown out our gut feelings and numb ourselves with busyness, stress, and overwhelm to avoid dealing with our shit and actually making progress towards living the life we want.
The prolonged suffering and inner turmoil that occurs from ignoring and resisting our intuition is collectively more painful than the the pain we’d experience if we made the change sooner. We let shame, guilt, anger, embarrassment, fear, and a host of other feelings that just plain don’t feel good take residence in our minds and keep us stuck; we feel paralyzed.
The analogy that keeps coming up for me is that it’s like taking off a bandaid. If you slowly peel it off, you feel it pinching and pulling at every hair. If you simply suck it up and rip it off, it (hopefully) comes off quickly and fairly effortlessly, and the overall pain is minimized.
Change isn’t always comfortable - in fact, it’s usually quite uncomfortable. Transformation doesn’t come without growing pains in some way, shape, or form. But I promise that you probably making it way scarier in your head than it really is.
As colossal and scary as change tends to seem, it’s actually very simple when you break it down. The most effective way to make massive shifts in your life towards your desires is simple: it starts with one choice. Yes, you read that right - ONE choice.
When you are working towards something and want to change a current habit, belief, etc. each time that you choose to move out of your fear mindset and into a mindset of growth by taking one small action, you are moving closer to your goal. The more frequently you make these choices, the more habitual it will become and eventually it will be a given and not a difficult choice at all.
For example, if you know you want to start meditating but keep brushing it off saying “I know I should, but…
I don’t have time,
I don’t know how, or
I can’t sit still or quiet my mind,”
you will never start. BUT, on the flip side, if you take your excuse and avoidance tactic and find a way to work through it one choice at a time you’ll be much more successful in creating this positive change.
If your excuse is you don’t know how, buy or borrow a book about meditation. (I highly recommend Pema Chodron’s How to Meditate.) Then commit to reading a chapter a day and start implementing the steps provided. You could even start with a simple article from the internet if you’re itching to begin or renew a practice.
If you don’t have time, make time. Making time for the things we want is a choice every. single. day. Especially where we are as a society today. Do you have time to check your phone every 5 minutes? Then you have time to meditate. Do you have time to watch an hour-long TV show? Then you have time to meditate. See how easy it is to make time?! Start with a short session, and work your way up to a longer one. Small attainable goals are where it’s at.
Do you want to change your diet so that you feel healthier and more vibrant? Every time we go to ingest food or beverages we are making a choice. Be mindful of what you are putting into your body at every meal. Each choice counts towards that positive change (a healthier body, and mind!). Maybe poke around the web to learn a little more about intuitive eating, and use the benefits you’ve gained from a regular meditation practice to cultivate awareness for how your body feels and what it needs.
Want to start an exercise routine? Take 20 minutes out of your day to complete a YouTube yoga video, or go for a walk at lunchtime. Then do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day...
Whether you are trying to change your mindset or trying to change your physical body, there’s no doubt that you will encounter uncomfortable feelings and, potentially, physical discomfort. But without getting outside of your comfort zone, you’ll never experience the magic that awaits.
Lean on your friends and family for support if you need it, especially if you are cutting cords in a romantic relationship; even when we know we’re making the right decision it still hurts, and we need a little extra love sent our way.
At the end of the day, no one can change your life but you. You are in the driver’s seat and have total control over the wheel. You can read all the things about how to change and get help from a coach or therapist, but ultimately you have to be the one to take action.
You have to make consistent choices in line with what you deeply desire to reap the rewards of change. Keep it simple and stick to the rule of one when you're trying to make a change (especially a significant one) so that you don't get overwhelmed or subject yourself to decision fatigue.
I’m very grateful to be learning how to embrace change more fully, because it’s allowed me to go places I never thought were possible. If you told me 3 years ago that I would be a business owner I would have laughed in your face - I was WAY too self-conscious to put myself out there, and mind mind was filled with with limiting beliefs about what I could and couldn’t do with my life. Through my meditation practice and educating myself on the power of thought, I've realized how much each choice I makes impacts my life so that I can use it to my advantage.
Am I immune to the fear that change brings up? HELL NO! But I've learned how to look at it more objectively and detach myself from the external circumstances. I'm learning how to let go of getting the exact details of the final outcome right. I can enjoy the journey a little bit more and celebrate each small win along the way. I'm also able to get myself out of the victim mentality a little bit quicker if it's a more difficult change, and work through how I can see it in a way that serves me.
Take a few moments to think about one thing you want to change in your life right now. Now, think about what’s standing in the way of you reaching that place of newness. What’s preventing you from embracing your evolution and honoring the truths you feel and know about yourself? What excuses are you telling yourself?
Now, what is ONE thing you can do today to take a baby step towards change? If you know it will be a series of changes, maybe take some time to work through what they are and write them down so that you can track your movement towards your goal. This also serves as positive reinforcement at any time, because you can see that it’s possible and that you’re doing it!
If you struggle with change, one beautiful mantra you use any time is Om Namah Shivaya, which means “I bow to that which I am becoming”. You can also explore ways to balance and clear your throat chakra, which is where the possibility for change, transformation, and healing are located.
And if nothing else, remember this - you already have all that you need inside of you, you just have to be open and willing to change.
Do you struggle with or fear change? Or do you generally embrace it? Share in the comments if and how this article resonated with you, I'd love to hear from you and have a conversation about it.