Congratulations… you have been presented with an opportunity to make a change! You know that making this change will have a positive outcome in your life. Your gut tells you to do it, but your brain says otherwise. You find yourself making excuses, distracting yourself or ignoring it.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”Alan Watts
Perhaps you’re not ready for this change?
I understand. Change is hard.
Change can be very uncomfortable and scary. Especially in the beginning, change can feel overwhelming when you don’t know how it is going to impact you.
I get it…don’t worry, you’re safe. I’ll lead you through why you’re having a hard time with change.
Are you ready to change?
In psychology, there’s a term called Readiness to Change which is used to evaluate if a client is ready and motivated to make a change in their life.
There are 5 stages in this continuum model.
In precontemplation, you’re basically not interested or you’re not aware. In contemplation, you have begun thinking about and considering making a change. Once you make the decision to change, you’re in the preparation stage, because you’re ready to take action. Finally, you are proactive about the new behavior, and therefore, you are in the maintenance stage to sustain whatever you have changed.
Ask yourself where you are in the continuum.
You don’t need to know why you are where you are, just identifying your stage will help you.
The fear associated with change
The unknown and uncertainty of making a change can be terrifying, especially when you feel okay with the status quo, but you also know in your heart that making the change will improve your life.
A lot of people are comfortable in their own discomfort.
You may be unhappy with the way you are currently living your life, and you prefer it that way since you’re familiar with it.
That’s okay…you’re in the precontemplation stage right now.
Or perhaps you’ve started thinking about needing and wanting to make a change but you feel nervous. You are not sure what to do and you may feel stuck.
I know that change and uncertainty cause me feelings of insecurity, vulnerability and anxiety.
At times, I feel like I am jumping off a diving board into an abyss and that feeling takes my breath away. I am truly terrified and want to walk away but I know I have to be brave and plunge into the unknown.
How I cope with change
To be honest, I have a very hard time with change.
This has a lot to do with the fact that I am an anxious person so anything that is new or different makes me nervous. I need to know what to expect, and not knowing is very anxiety provoking for me.
Since I know this about myself, and I understand the psychology behind the stress associated with change, I have figured out that I need to identify my internal strengths and activate my support system before making a big change in my life.
My internal strengths include my ability to ground myself by meditating, my willingness to ask for help and my optimism. My support system includes my partner, my family, friends, trusted colleagues and my therapist.
Whenever I feel worried or anxious, I ask myself if there is any truth to the irrational thoughts that are causing my emotional discomfort. I remind myself that a thought is just a thought, and that thoughts are not real.
If I need a reality check, I call my partner who reassures me that everything is indeed okay, and that it is only fear talking and this change (whatever change it may be), is for the better.
It’s not always easy, and I have to constantly remind myself that I am safe, and that some of the thoughts that I am having are not real.
I have to be okay sitting with the discomfort of the uncertainty.
Why do we put worry hurdles on our path?
The journey of change can be difficult, scary and uncertain.
Sometimes you may not know how to differentiate between a feeling, irrational thought or a real experience. Unintentionally, you may put a lot of worry hurdles on your own path and not take the proactive steps to make the change you desire.
Please remember, that is very normal. It takes a lot of practice, patience and self-compassion to work through these thoughts and feelings.
I know that my worries of the unknown and change cause me fear. Perhaps you do too?
I have no idea whether or not the things I am worried about are actually going to happen or not, so subconsciously, I place a worry hurdle in front of myself.
Do you think you prevent your own change because you put worry hurdles in front of you?
How to get over the worry hurdles
To get over one worry hurdle, I have to practice mindfulness. I try my best to let go of the thought, have present moment awareness and take deep breaths.
“Encountering change can lead to an explosion of personal growth or it can lead to a stagnating implosion of clinging to our habits and other attachments. Change not only offers the opportunity for growth, but it also calls for the celebration of being present enough to experience that growth.”Yoga Soup
I want you to try this next time you feel worried.
Just stop, close your eyes, put your hand on your heart and take a deep inhale through your nose and exhale out of our mouth. Repeat this practice three times.
Being mindful is a helpful reminder that you are safe and that it is simply change.
Remember that making a change takes time. A lot of time.
Typically it takes our brain about 28 days to change a new habit to learn something new. So if you have something ingrained in your mind, it will take at least one month for your brain to get re-wired for the new habit or behavior.
Remember, be patient, show yourself grace and practice self-compassion.
When we practice self-compassion, we speak to ourselves as though we were speaking to a friend.
So imagine the messages and stories you are telling yourself are the same way you would talk to a close friend. We speak to our friends in an understanding, supportive and compassionate way. Talk to yourself the same way and be gentle with yourself as you navigate this uncharted territory.
Change is hard because you may feel scared, nervous, worried and overwhelmed with the unknown and uncertainty.
To get a better understanding of yourself, you can identify your place in the Readiness to Change Continuum.
It’s normal to feel worried and put hurdles in front of yourself because you are not sure what will happen once you make a change.
It’s important to practice self-compassion, mindfulness and be patient with yourself when you are making a change. It is also helpful to practice a daily mantra. You can borrow mine if you’d like:
“I am safe. I will be ok. It is simply change.”
Now go ahead, face the challenges of change and download my FREE Self-care Guide to get started on your journey.