The Fear of Change – Figuring it Out and Owning it

Change

No matter how hard you try and run from it – change will happen. No matter what form it comes in, it can be hard to adjust to. Here are some tips to cope a little better.

There is no escaping or denying it: change freaks most of us out. I believe that this fear is totally natural and part of the parcel of what it means to be human. We all experience it to some degree and at different stages during our lives. And we all have our own natural ways of coping with it.

During our teenage years, especially late teens, we are faced with a time of frequent and somewhat significant changes in our lives. Whether this comes in the form of our bodies developing and maturing, finishing school and beginning university, swapping degrees or subjects mid way through our studies, or ending varsity and starting your first job, change is inevitable. I believe that it is the time of our lives where we we experience it the most.

Unfortunately, due to our relative immaturity at this tender age, many people are unsure of how to deal with this and this can impact their lives dramatically.

What is change?

Before we continue, it is important to establish what we mean by “change”. The word is quite a broad term and it can mean different things to different people. For the purpose of this article, let’s use this definition from PersonalityResearch.org:

“… a modification to a person’s environment, situation, or physical or mental condition that results in circumstances that challenge their existing lifestyle.”

In other words, change is when your existing lifestyle takes a turn, big or small, in either a positive, negative or indifferent manner.

Why do we fear change?

Not only do many people not understand how to deal with change, but the vast majority of humans fear it. The question as to why we fear it has kept many researchers, scientists and philosophers up at night for hundreds of years. The general belief amongst the world’s top experts on the matter is that the fear of change is embedded in our genes and it is inherent to human nature.

With any change, we are never quite sure of exactly what the outcome will be. Will we be better or worse off afterwards? Why would we embrace change when we are extremely comfortably and happy with our lifestyles? Is change going to impact my mental or physical health? These types of questions frighten us and oftentimes make us resistant to change. I also think that there is a close link between failure and change. This results in many people assuming that by experiencing change, it will lead to failure. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Finally, our brains expect certain things to remain the same and anytime something changes it goes against our belief system. When we experience the world in a certain way for an extended period of time, we develop core beliefs on how life is supposed to be. After this, it can be difficult to embrace changes to these understandings and beliefs. Again, this holds true during our teenage years, as the earlier you learnt something in life, the harder it is to differ from this.

As the old saying goes…

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”

How to cope or deal with change

So the big question then is how do we deal and cope with change in a way that impacts our lives positively?

First and foremost, the most important thing about coping or dealing with change is to just accept it. There is a very famous quote in the scientific world which states the following: ‘Change is the only constant”. This is very true and the moment we understand that change will indeed occur, we are already in a better state of mind and more prepared to deal with it effectively.

I completely understand that changes for the worse are more difficult to deal with. Perhaps there is a death in your family. How can one possible “cope” well in times of devastation? The thing with negative changes is that it can often result in positive outcomes over the long run. It all depends on how you deal with the change and the mindset that you take whilst experiencing it. The big question to ask yourself is this:

“What can I learn from this terrible experience that will help me in later life?”

During my university days I dealt with a lot of change. I left home, moved cities, and found an entirely new set of friends. I changed universities and degrees once and I changed subjects on numerous occasions. I think the reasons I felt that this was difficult was because when I felt like I had invested myself in something, it became harder to change. This is because I didn’t want to lose all the time and effort I had already put in. Changing degrees meant I had to study for an extra year and this was difficult to come to terms with. However, in hindsight, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was and I’m extremely happy with how things turned out.

Have a look at this motivational video:

We can’t alter how our brain works. However, we certainly can use its quirks to our advantage. Our brains like absorbing new information and it understands what we do and do not like. As we grow and our brains experience more and more changes in a variety of ways, we begin to operate with a deeper realisation that change is something that we can survive and benefit from. This applies to each and every one of us. Over time, you won’t fear change nearly as much because the information stored in your mind provides evidence and reminds us that the fear is unnecessary.

Basically, what I am trying to say here is that our brains learn to accept and cope with change naturally as we grow older.

Change isn’t something we should fear, it is something we should embrace and use as a tool to learn, grow and develop our characters with.

EduConnect 2Cents

It is important to know that change is always an option. If you are unhappy, whether that be with your studies, certain subjects, or your profession, change is always a direction that one can go. If you do indeed change something and you have a positive, optimistic mindset – even when the change is really tough and risky – then the outcome will work in your favour.

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