Hello, beautiful people and welcome to a fresh, brand-new month! Like the changing season signalling growth and new beginnings, our lives are constantly in flux. Change is an inevitable part of life, yet we cling to our comfort zones, grasping familiarity and routine. Resistance to change is such a widespread phenomenon that it even has its scientific name – Metathesiophobia.
Now, if you’re feeling a bit uneasy at the mention of this term or if you’ve noticed a small worry line forming at the prospect of encountering change, take a deep breath. Relax. You’re not alone. I have worked with thousands of people who have voiced fears, from the change of a process at work to the change of toothpaste at home. Each change held varying degrees of fear for the person at the time.
Let’s embark on a journey of understanding our ingrained fear of change, observe its impact on our personal growth, and gain insights into overcoming it together. Remember, it’s just you and me here, conversing like old friends seated on a warm, inviting couch, sipping cups of hot tea as we navigate these layers of change.
Fear is a potent emotion. It’s woven into the very fabric of our lives, occupying a crucial spot in our emotional landscape. In its most basic form, fear is a survival instinct. It’s an essential response, wired into us by evolution, to protect us from potential harm. Our mind’s loud, clanging alarm bell warns us to be cautious when there’s danger ahead.
But do you know what happens when our ‘fear’ button gets stuck in the ‘on’ position? Fear begins to dominate our lives in ways it was never meant to. It oversteps its bounds, changing from our watchful protector to our master, controlling our actions and decisions.
For instance, consider a chameleon. They rely on their instinct to change colour to respond to threats in their environment, disguising themselves from predators. But imagine if this chameleon, in constant dread, decided never to reveal its true colours, remaining hidden all the time. That wouldn’t be a fulfilling existence, would it?
Similarly, when we let fear—particularly the fear of change—dictate our lives, we may constantly blend into the background, never genuinely revealing who we are or achieving our full potential. We become trapped in our comfort zones, scurrying back to safety at the slightest hint of change or uncertainty.
According to Dr. Rebecca Compton of Haverford College, fear, especially fear of change, could paralyze us, leading to adverse effects on our mental health (Depression and Anxiety, 2010. doi.org/10.1002/da.20655). Stranded in the maze of our anxieties, we may dread meeting new people, hesitate to alter our environment, or even resist personal growth in fear of a nasty repeat of the past.
Peering through the lens of scientific research, we can see compatible strategies for managing Metathesiophobia. Some evidence-backed ways include:
But what happens when you do not want to practice a technique or plunge into freezing cold water? What if a more innate, natural way to overcome your fear existed? Having worked with thousands of people, the inherent process outlined below is available for everyone; all it takes is a greater awareness of what you already do and an awareness of your true identity
1. Staying Present: When our minds are constantly flickering between regrets of the past and worries about the future, it can be challenging to experience the here and now truly. To focus on the present, try grounding yourself by noticing your breath or simply feeling the sensations on your skin. Being present lets you view your circumstances with clarity and perseverance.
2. Tune into Your Thoughts: As you soak in the present moment, let’s listen to that inner conversation in your mind for a few minutes. What thoughts come up often, and which situations cause the most unease? It’s important to remember that right now, we’re just observing, not passing any judgments.
3. Fact Checking: Now that you better understand your thoughts, it’s time to reflect on whether the fears and worries in your mind align with reality. Are you letting your imagination create scenarios that may not be accurate? Remember, it’s essential to differentiate between thoughts and facts.
4. Facing the Facts: Finally, let’s look honestly at the situation, free from emotions, opinions, and external influences. It’s like watching a movie without added background music—just focusing on what’s happening without being swayed by anything else.
Fundamentally, let’s embrace change as a necessary and rewarding part of life. By cultivating resilience against Metathesiophobia, we are inviting opportunities for personal growth. And while this path of transformation may seem daunting, remember – change begins inside.
Harness the power of your mind. With a blend of understanding, acceptance, empathy, and patience, administer your fears of change. Use these fears as catalysts for evolution, adapting and thriving amidst life’s uncertainties.
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Now for some practical next steps.
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