Updated: Oct 5, 2021
One of the biggest barriers preventing us to making important life decisions is the fear of change. Why do we get stuck in the fear cycle and how to break from it? How to overcome inaction and make the next step?
Fear of change is like standing under a hot shower and knowing the moment you’ll turn it off, you’ll be freezing cold. Erik Tanghe
In my previous post How to Make Important Life Decisions I talked about strategies for getting unstuck and evaluating your options when it comes to such big life decisions as whether to get divorced or not, whether or not to have a child, quit your job to go back to school or pursue another career.
In this post I will talk about the biggest barrier to making important life decisions – the fear of change.
Why do we get stuck when want to change our life?
Let’s say you have been discontented with the situation for some time. You’ve developed your strategies of dealing with it, until one day you reach a breaking point. The point where you cannot deal with it anymore and the desire to change becomes very strong. Such breaking point could be triggered by a dramatic life event or an exhaustion.
You’ve reached your bottom and decided to change the situation you are in. This decision fills you with a short-lived sense of hope until the fear creeps in. The fear leads you to doubt your decision and now both options – to change and to remain in the status quo, seem equally helpless and bleak. You feel helpless and empty.
Over time, you are entering the amnesia phase. The fear grows, and your original situation begins to seem better, reducing your anxiety. You are beginning to wonder why you wanted to change in the first place?
Thinking more about it, you are beginning to backtrack talking yourself out of changing. After some time, you are starting to feel unhappy and discontented again until you reach your next breaking point. And a new fear cycle begins.
Does this sound familiar?
I certainly have been through this myself when making my decision to change my life and leave London and corporate career behind.
Going back and forth in agony
It took me 1.5 years going back and forth in agony. Before I made that final decision to quit my job and build a new life that I acted on, I almost made one a year earlier. But backtracked.
I made the decision in my head and told my landlord I am moving out, so it sort of felt like I am serious. However, when I went back to my job and daily life, suddenly I discovered how much I love my job and how many amazing things I have that I will lose if I leave.
And so, one week later I had to write an apologetic email to my landlord explaining how I changed my mind.
It seemed like the right decision, until a few months later I started waking up with no sense of meaning and desire to live again. The new cycle began.
How can you break the fear cycle?
The cycle will continue until one of the two things happen.
1. You will reach an extreme level of pain or a severe braking point.
This could be a loss of a job, a loved one, an accident or a serios nervous breakdown.
This is exactly how I was pushed out of my cycle. I lost my sleep for more than a month and was barely functioning, needing an urgent change.
The reason those breaking points keep coming back is because your higher self knows exactly what you need. It desperately tries to lead you there and keeps coming back.
If you resist long enough, something will happen to put you in the position where you have no choice but to change.
2. The second thing that can get you out of the fear cycle is self-honesty.
When you realise that there is a part of you that doesn’t want to change and addicted to the situation, regardless of bow harmful it might be.
Can you see how this cycle impacted your life? Are you ready to stop it? Are you ready to take responsibility for your life and create your dream life?
To break out of the cycle, you must face your fears with all honesty. Do one of teh following:
Admit that you don’t want to change
Admit you don’t know what you want. If that’s the case, you can try to imagine what would you want if time, money or other people didn’t limit you
Admit the dream or reward isn’t big enough. What would you do anything for to attain?
Admit you are attached to your problem. It became part of who you are, your identity. What would you be without your problem? How does it benefit you not to change?
If there is a nagging feeling for change, go inwards and reflect. Is your desire for more fulfilment and happiness is strong enough that you are willing to conquer your fears and deal with the obstacles? Congratulations, you will succeed, because you are ready to break your cycle.
The fear of change is inevitable when it comes to big life decisions. You may also be facing the fear of failure and risk. You can read about it in this post.
By changing nothing, nothing changes. Tony Robbins
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