Written by: Theresa Agostinelli, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
One thing that I know for sure is that the only constant in life is change. From the moment we are born, we are conditioned to accept change as a part of our existence. We change our diets, our social interactions, our education, and our means of independence. While change is an integral part of our development at some point in our lives, we all have moments of fear.
Change is scary.
A fundamental understanding of neuroscience explains that the human brain is averse to change. Our brains enjoy routine and celebrate the ordinary. However, change is inevitable.
The question becomes:
How do we respond to these changes?
Some lean into them, while others resist or avoid them.
Change is never the problem, it’s the fear of change that often holds us back from reaching our desired level of success.
If we are going to do anything new and if we’re going to change old belief patterns, we’re going to have to wander into an area where we’ve never been. For most people, the fear of change will stop you from living your best life.
Early in my career I knew that I needed to make some changes. My life was becoming unmanageable, and I realized I needed to make a conscious decision to change. I knew I was created for more, yet I just didn’t know how to remove the fears and embrace change to make room for bigger and better.
I meet talented and gifted people every day who never overcome their fear of change and therefore never reach their full potential. Many times, I witness the self-imposed prisons people create when they do not overcome their fears. They will even stay in jobs they hate, hang onto relationships they are unhappy in, and even experience significant financial crises and more.
I have coached and counseled thousands of people over two decades who wanted to create a better life for themselves, but they were just too afraid. As we looked closer at their deep-seated fears it was evident that although they had all the right reasons to make those changes, their fear of change held them back.
In this article, I will share actionable tips to help you overcome the fear of change and start living the life you were meant to live.
But first, we must answer the question: Why Do We Fear Change?
According to Julie Drost Lokun, JD, CEO of The Mediacasters, “Fear is a product of your mind. It’s an entrenched mental conditioning that is causing fear, which often leads to doubt. Whether fear originates from other bad experiences or the unknown, it’s not the circumstance or what’s going on around you that’s making you afraid, it’s what you tell yourself. “ Lokun adds, “The practice of changing the narrative you are telling yourself starts by recognizing negative thought patterns and replacing them with proactive thoughts”. You have the power to rewire your synapsis in your brain and create a more satisfying life. Fear can originate from negative results of change from your past. Whether fear is passed on from generational trauma or from previous bad experiences it is imperative to be aware of your mindset. Fear of change begins in the mind, and you have the power to stop the fear and create new ways of thinking that support the life you dream about.
Here are 4 techniques that can help you overcome the fear of change:
1. Identify and Isolate
If you’re going after a big goal or going through a major change, it can be overwhelming to think about all the details. Many times, people get so overwhelmed with things that they want to change that they often just quit trying.
Identify one area you would like to change and isolate that one change. In other words, make that your one goal. It becomes more manageable that way. Instead of trying to figure out how you’re going to accomplish all your goals and handle too many changes at once, break it down into one goal and make it your focus. This will help you to see that change is not scary. Instead of trying to solve every single challenge you recognize, choose one smaller task that you believe you can handle.
Commit right now to focus on one area of change that you can work on.
2. Invest in a Coach or Mentor
Fear is due to lack of knowledge. You have heard it said that knowledge is power. We simply don’t know what we don’t know. It is important to gather enough information and empower yourself. For instance, you may have a dream to begin a whole new career in a completely different kind of business to what you are used to. If you aren’t educating yourself, you won’t be able to make a smart change. Having a coach or a mentor can often alleviate the fear of change simply by learning from the experts in their prospective field. A coach or a mentor can help you become your best self. When you have someone who can assist you and keep you accountable it is easier to manage change. When you have the facts, your fear will subside.
Commit right now to find a mentor or a coach and become teachable and accountable.
3. Practice Gratitude
Anything you want to change in your life should be connected to gratitude. Think about why you want to change a certain area in your life. We are all on this planet for a short time and we should create a legacy by using our lives to serve humanity. What do you want to be remembered for?
When we are in full gratitude, we emit high-frequency vibrations. The habit of practicing gratitude is a powerful technique that will affect how you think, how you act and how you feel. Most importantly it will eradicate fear in any situation. A grateful mind cannot harbor fear. With an attitude of gratitude, you will find that there is no room for fear or anxiety.
Build an arsenal of gratitude statements for those times you are tempted to fear during big changes. You’ll find that your mind will quickly divert to a feeling of confidence.
The next time you fear a change you are about to make think about who or what you are grateful for and bask in the feeling of being grateful. I know it seems like a difficult task to achieve, but you will find it becomes easier and easier as you train your mind to operate with an attitude of gratitude.
Commit today to begin speaking statements of gratitude.
4. Visualize Your Success
Whenever I become fearful of a change I am about to make, I take a deep breath and I picture myself as already successfully completing the change. When we continually walk in fear we become emotionally paralyzed. Imagine how it will feel to have accomplished the change. Let your mind experience all the emotions and feelings that come from achieving your desired goal.
For instance, say you want to reach a certain health goal or financial goal by this time next year. Maybe you want to attract a certain number of high-level paying clients by this time next year.
Visualization is a powerful technique that helps reduce fear in any situation. It is a technique that will accelerate your success by helping you achieve your goals and walk through any change with clarity and confidence.
Visualize your success over and over and hold that picture in your mind. Your brain will default to that picture in your mind. This will direct your focus to what you want, rather than what you don’t want.
By visualizing change, you overcome fear by directing your focus to a positive outcome.
Commit to begin visualizing a positive change in an area you fear most.
Let’s look at some real-world examples of how successful entrepreneurs have overcome their fear of change.
Andrea, the owner of a Fitness Center grew up hearing “Keep eating like that and you will be as big as a house one day.” Andrea wasn’t old enough to buy her own food all those years and she used food as a coping mechanism for fear and anxiety. She developed significant weight and health issues in her teen years all the way up to her adult life. With the help of a nutrition coach who specialized in food and nutrition Andrea learned how to recognize and challenge her eating habits which were instilled in her at an early age. She also learned to master her mindset and remove the negative self-talk about her looks and her weight. She started to see how her body and her mind were storing unhealthy patterns of behavior. She began to make small changes in her diet and her thought patterns. She tackled one change at a time.
As a result, Andrea made the decision to begin a career as a fitness trainer. She educated herself and eventually opened her own Fitness Center. She faced her fears, embraced change, and created a life that she loves and is deeply satisfied.
Let’s consider Robert. A successful attorney in a large city, Robert always felt that he was destined for more. He loved boats and always wanted to own one, but he lived and worked in the city. His parents put him through law school right out of high school because that is what his parents wanted. His dad owned a prominent, high-end law firm and Robert was next in line to take over the business.
With his hectic work schedule and busy family life, there was no way he could ever own a boat. His father always told him that a successful attorney doesn’t have time to own a boat.
After many stress-filled years in the law firm, he began experiencing declining health. He was forced to make some hard decisions. His dream was to move to a town with warm weather year-round and he wanted to be close to the sea. With the help of a mentor, he began to practice visualizing his career change and he even began keeping a daily gratefulness journal. Eventually, Robert did pursue his dream and he owns a successful restaurant in a marina with boats docked there all year round. He embraced his fear of change and is living the life of his dreams. He and his wife and children are enjoying the results of Robert’s changes. As a result, Robert is the happiest and healthiest he has ever been. He is productive and has a motivated team working for him. He incorporates personal and professional development classes for all his employees.
Whether you’re struggling with the fear of change or with the decision to make a change there are people who can help you achieve your goals.
Change is going to happen whether we’re ready or not.
It is often in our best interest to initiate change. If we wait too long, it becomes less manageable. When we initiate change, we begin to learn how to push ourselves. That means we are growing.
I hope the tips I shared will help you lean into the changes and fears you face rather than settle for less. Because the truth is, the most dangerous place you can live is in your comfort zone because there is no growth there.
And where there is no growth, there is disintegration. Nothing ever stays the same. We must strive to move forward towards something bigger and better.
Make up your mind that fear is not going to overcome you when you face change. You are far more powerful than you know.
Read more about Theresa Executive Contributor Theresa Agostinelli | Human Potential Expert
Theresa Agostinelli, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Professor Theresa Agostinelli is a licensed psychotherapist as well as a certified personal and professional coach. A widow and single mom at age 26, she found herself with few resources, no job and not many skills. She dramatically changed her life and rose from widow to successful business owner, entrepreneur and author. She has dedicated her life to helping others by teaching them how to maximize their mental and emotional well-being. Theresa is the author of the prolific book, The GRID System which speaks to unlocking your potential and living your best life. Her mission is helping people create more of what is good in life.