By Carri Nash, RN, MFT, Dr. Loral Lee Portenier
“If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”
~ Roy Bennett
Why do we have a tendency to resist, even fear, change?
The answer is simple—homeostasis.
As humans, we want comfort. Therefore, we all grow until we reach a stage that offers us an acceptable amount of comfort, then settle in.
Like the thermostat on the wall, when life cools off, our subconscious furnace kicks on and warms things up again. Similarly, when life gets too hot, our internal cooling system kicks on and brings the temperature back down to our comfort zone. Some people have a small range in their comfort zone, while others have a wide range, but homeostasis is operating for everyone.
What activates the furnace or AC in our lives? The pain of change.
We fear that pain, so we do whatever it takes to return to our comfort zone. Short-term, that can reduce stress and calm our nerves. Long-term, that can be like a slow, soul-deep suicide.
Here are two approaches for overcoming fear of change and avoiding that slow death.
The first is to expand our comfort zone.
One speaker says that we should never do anything outside our comfort zone—just make sure that comfort zone is so immense that we can do whatever the heck we want. By expanding our comfort zone, we increase our capacity for pleasure.
The second is to increase the pain of remaining in that tiny comfort zone.
Most of us don’t change until the pain of change becomes less than the pain of staying the same. Get creative and use pain (e.g., psychological or financial) as a healthy and effective tool to help reduce the pain and fear of change.
Whether you progress like a tortoise or a hare is up to you and your particular circumstances.
But go ahead and find a way that works for you. No pain and fear of change is worth the cost of that soul-destroying state of living a life of quiet desperation. Even more—it’s ok to learn how to derive pleasure from the process of expanding your comfort zone. It’s your choice.
Dr. Loral Lee Portenier – www.linkedin.com/in/loral-lee-portenier-phd-62897b17
Why do we fear change? Even when we are in bad situations, such as an unhealthy work environment, we often choose to stay.
Where does this fear come from?
Mostly, our own negative thinking. We ruminate about all the possible catastrophic consequences we could face if we make a change. “What if I fail? What if I’m unhappy? What if, what if, what if????”
“I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically fear of change – I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back” – Erica Jong
Our inner dialogue, like Ms. Jong indicates, tells us to “turn back”. This is not a rational fear, like the kind you get when faced with imminent physical danger. This fear is the fear that is induced by our own hypnotic inner voice. The best and easiest way is to face these fears is to make a conscious choice to monitor our own negative inner dialogue.
You catch yourself saying, “I can’t change jobs, what if I fail?”
And after you catch yourself, you challenge the unspoken belief that goes with the question. “Is failing the worse thing that could happen to me? Is it logical to believe that I will fail?”
Use your thinking mind to turn the uncertainty into an open door for hope, instead of a closed door that is protecting you from some imagined catastrophe.
Don’t ask “what if I fail?” instead tell yourself “I am open to the future.”
If you can talk yourself into fearing change, then you can talk yourself out of it, too.
Most importantly, know that you are not struggling alone. This is a universal struggle.
“I will not live an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as a seed goes to the next as a blossom and that which comes to me as a blossom goes as fruit.” – Dawna Markova
Make the choice to face your irrational fears, and replace your fear of change with openness to new adventures. You can do this!
Carri Nash, RN, MFT – www.cnashmft.com