Do you feel anxious and stressed when you think about change? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people around the world feel the same way. But why is change so scary? And what can we do to cope with our fear of it?
Understand what fear of change is
The first thing you need to do is understand what fear of change is. Of course, it’s normal to feel some anxiety when something unexpected happens or when life throws us a curveball. But sometimes the feeling persists long after an event has passed or changes are in place. And if that occurs, it may be time to talk with your doctor.
People fear change for different reasons. The most common include:
- They’re not sure what they’ll need to do to adapt to the new situation or environment.
- They don’t know if they’ll be able to cope with the loss of what’s being left behind (for example, stability and security).
- They don’t think they’ll be able to handle the new challenges ahead.
- They feel like they’re losing control of something important.
How to cope with the fear of change?
Once you better understand why you fear change, you can figure out how to deal with it. Here are some steps that might help:
- Remind yourself that often the best way to deal with change is to go through it. It’s not easy, but once you’re through, you can settle into a better situation.
- Focus on the positive things that may come from making a change, such as realizing your dreams or opportunities for growth and development.
- Don’t dwell on the past or future. Spend more time in the present moment. This will help you see that the change is happening now. It’s not something that will happen in the future or a memory from your past.
- Accept that others, including yourself, may respond differently to change than you expect. People often experience grief and sadness when faced with changes and losses, and it’s important to accept that.
- Find ways to maintain a sense of control over your life. Some changes, like moving to a new home or changing jobs, are more within our control than others, such as illness. But even with the most highly personal and difficult changes, there are things you can do for yourself that may help. Things like expressing your thoughts and emotions, exercising regularly or praying can help.
Practice self-compassion when facing fears of change
To help you cope with the fear of change, consider practicing self-compassion. Self-compassion is caring and kindness toward yourself in the same way you would treat a friend. It involves:
Treat yourself as you would a friend or someone who is suffering. You’d never ignore your own needs and feelings, so don’t do it to yourself. You wouldn’t expect a friend to be perfect, so don’t expect that of yourself, either.
Being aware and accepting of change as part of life and being more willing to face these changes. No matter how much we wish they’d never happen or avoid them when they do, change is certain in all aspects of life.
Seeing change as an opportunity to grow and learn rather than something that will hold you back or stop your progress. You can’t always prevent changes from happening, but you can become stronger because of them.
Seek support from loved ones or professionals
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many people who are trained to listen and offer assistance during times of change, including counselors, social workers, clergy members, and therapists. Their services are often free or low-cost because they want to make sure everyone has access to this type of care. If you fear the coping skills you already possess may not be enough to help you face future changes, consider seeking professional support.