After having a great conversation (in Spanish) about fear of change, I feel inspired to share with you some of my learnings. To be honest, learning from others while having a talk is one of my favourite ways to do it: an effortless way to make me consider other ideas on the topic.
What is change?
We are always changing as long as we age. Neither our bodies nor our brains are the same as they were 5, 10 or 20 years ago. We are accustomed to changing, and yet there are changes that we suffer more than others. As Simon Sinek says, people fear sudden change, but incremental change is not threatening.
The question is obvious: what is change for us? What amount of incremental change is enough to make us feel fear?
Clearly, it’s different for every person. To know the answer, we need to listen to ourselves and give us time to process the emotions; because being focused on the inner self and listen to what is needed requires training. Once tuned, both body and feelings are an important source of information, that probably gives us clues about what to do next.
When fear comes, we all tend to react automatically: the amygdala hijacks ourselves, triggering the fight or freeze response. During this time, we just can’t think. Knowing that we should give us time to work on it and take care of our emotional status. Many people treat fear rationally when it’s clearly an emotional process. We should acknowledge what happens before taking any decision. Therefore, we require being patient and wait for how the situation develops and what kind of information our emotions and our body are providing us.
Looking at change as a process (and not an end itself) helps. So do our previous experiences if we make the effort to analyse them. We all have gone through many changes in our lives: some forced, some chosen. Anyhow, if we take the time to think about them, we can find what works and what doesn’t for us when facing change. Besides, we gain knowledge about ourselves: what our expected reactions can be, how much time we do need to process, what the best strategy is to avoid an automatic response.
Analysing the past has also a great side effect: knowing what we are capable of. This gives us a great toolkit to face new coming changes. If you know you could, why not this time? If that strategy worked, I could put it in practice again. All this makes us gain self-confidence, which is a good starting point to avoid fear of change. Nevertheless, being humble is a must. A change is always a change. Even if we have a good set of tools, being prepared for the unexpected is important.
At this point, I go back to the beginning and invite us to make of every change an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. All in all, since there is no way we can avoid changes, dare to stay in the process time enough to learn as a way to not fear the change and play to win.