FearToday’s Word: ‘Fear” as in… many of us resist change because we fear change.

Change and transition are two very different experiences and we tend to confuse them constantly, thinking that transition is just another word for change. But it isn’t.

Transition is emotional, psychological, internal. Change is situational; there is always a physical element to change: a birth, a death, falling in love, growing out of love, a shift in jobs, a shift in roles, moving out of town, moving into a new house, retirement, or, as boomers love to say, repositioning. Big changes! All of these changes are physical and most people resist change because of one thing: fear.

We fear change for many reasons. Here’s a good list: First, we fear the unknown. If change feels like walking off a cliff blindfolded, then we’ll reject it every time. We’ll often prefer to remain mired in misery than to head toward some new, unknown, yet thriving place.

Second, we fear losing something we value. After investing time, energy, and emotion in something that is important to us, watching it change or even go away causes fear.

Third, we fear uncertainty. Being out of our routines and comfort zones can feel like being tossed into untested waters. We prefer what can be known. Change is meant to bring something different, but how different? We are creatures of habit. Routines become automatic, but change jolts us into consciousness, sometimes in uncomfortable ways.

Fourth, we fear loss of pride. By definition, change is a departure from the past. Those associated with “the last version”—the one that didn’t work or the one that is emerging—are likely to be defensive. It feels like prior work is being abandoned, deserted and ideas are extinct, not worth saving.

Fifth, we fear incompetence. Change is resisted when there’s a risk of feeling inept. Can I do it? Can I survive? Can I thrive? The answer is ‘yes.’ But avoiding change creates even bigger hairball of hoopla.

More on that as we move ahead. For now, what change are you facing today and what is the fear about?


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