5 Reasons Why Change is Scary as Hell (and how to embrace it anyway)
“Change is the only constant” - Heraclitus
I love autumn. I love the changing colors, breaking out my sweaters from storage, crisp mornings, and yes, pumpkin everything.
As I noticed more and more yellow, orange, and red leaves drifting down onto the ground, I can’t help but be grateful for seasons of change, both literally and metaphorically.
Last week on the Joyful Rebel Podcast, I shared a conversation about change that I had with the incredible Johanna Bogart. As an adventurous, soul-aligned Digital Nomad and Creative Coach currently living in Sayulita, Mexico, Johanna knows a thing or two about going out on a limb, embracing change, and following the calling of the heart. In our conversation, I was struck by her willingness to give herself permission to try new things and not have them be perfect (!!!). I couldn’t help but want to share more about why change is so freakin’ scary for most of us - and the reasons we should heed Johannah’s advice and “bet on ourselves” to create the kind of life we crave.
I also think it’s important to mention that there’s another kind of change, one that isn’t about big, broad, life-altering choices and doing scary shit. There’s another kind of change that is small, incremental, and barely noticeable until one day you look up and think to yourself, “Well, this is different.” As a parent of a 7 year old boy, this the kind of change that seems to show up in my life more and more. For instance, every once in awhile it will seem like his clothes no longer fit. Or, he’ll start pushing against routine in an effort to gain more independence. And all of this seems to come out of the blue, when I least expect it.
On the best days, I can accept changes (both big and small) as a natural part of life. On other days, change challenges me to no end. Because inevitably, at the other end of change lies the unknown. We don’t know what it will bring, how it will change us and the world around us.
But what is it, specifically, that makes change scary as hell for people?
1. Your identity will be challenged
Whether it’s changing our eating and drinking habits, moving to a new location, taking a new job, cutting back your workload, or practicing mindfulness - change is challenging because it asks us to “be” and “do” in ways that we aren’t used to. As we aim to make shifts in our actions and perceptions in the world, we are invited to be different than we were before.
The reality is that we get used to being a certain way, and the people around us also get used to us being a certain way. When we start choosing differently, it upends who we (and others) thought we were, which can be terrifying!
2. You will have to choose differently
Simply put, when we make changes, it asks us to choose something different than we did in the past. Beyond challenging our identity, we also have to learn to catch ourselves in habitual moments so that we can consciously make the choice to make the change.
3. There will be things that are out of your control
While we can generally control our choices and responses, we do not have control over outside forces or how others might react to the changes we are making. There will still be cookies in the break room. Your partner might be uncomfortable with the changes you want to make in your own life and will make it known. The best we can do is take a deep breath, remember our “why,” and do our best to help others understand why this shift is important to us, and if appropriate, ask for their help and support.
4. Things might turn out differently than you thought
We can never fully guarantee any outcome. Sure, we can make calculated guesses and do everything in our power to help ensure that our change efforts produce the desired results, but part of what makes change scary as hell is that it might look different in the long run than you thought it would. And that’s okay.
5. You will emerge wiser, stronger, and better than before
Undoubtedly, there will be many lessons available to you during and after your change process. Let these lessons be the stuff of growth and maturation. Remember, there is no failure, only information.
With all that being said. I want to offer you 3 Invitations as you embark on any process of change and growth. These ideas will help you stay grounded and allow you to stretch yourself at the same time.
You are invited to:
Do your inner work. Practice self-reflection.
Be willing to change course. Practice acceptance and flexibility.
Give yourself permission to trust. Practice faith and self-compassion.
Lean into those invitations and let your intuition lead you toward your next step.
If you’re looking for a little guidance in your own change process, don’t miss the September 2018 free download: “Small Changes, Big Impact: Transform Your Fear and Create a Life You Love.”