This week we took a look at some of the fears that can take root when change comes knocking on our door. Sometimes change is invited, but other times it’s not. It is often when change drops-in without our invitation, or when we are at the cusp of making a change, but haven’t quite gotten there, that the fears highlighted this week are most likely to pay us a visit.
As a recap, the three fears we looked at had to do with ambiguity, the unknown, and loss or letting go. Reshuffling these around a bit, we can consider them in terms of before, during and after a change has been decided upon:
Before a change - Fear of the unknown.
Issue: Uncertainty around the unknown often happens when a choice about change is looming, but there is no certainty or clarity around the outcome. As a result, we struggle to make a decision because we're afraid we might make the wrong choice.
How to deal:
Benefits: By expanding our focus beyond our individual challenges, we unlock our hyper-focus on the issues and allow other possibilities and more clarity to emerge.
Relinquishing ourselves of drama often also eliminates the fear associated with making a choice with little or no information. It also feels lighter with the benefit of a greater sense of freedom.
Sometimes we create a false sense of urgency. By taking a step-back from the problem, we may find it resolves itself.
Potential risks: Walking away from drama often requires we disassociate with some of the people who thrive in that arena, and this might result in hurt feelings or more desperate attempts by those people to pull you back into the fold. This is why relinquishing ourselves from it requires a conscious commitment on our part, as well as an idea of where to find the kind of support we need before taking this step.
Sometimes the sense of urgency is real, and we could miss out on an opportunity by waiting. If we have hesitancies, however, missing out on the opportunity might actually be a good thing, as other, better, opportunities might be looming just around the corner.
During a change - Ambiguity.
Issue: Ambiguity often happens after a change has been announced, but where there is conflicting information or a lack of direction. There could be answers and clarity, but there isn’t. We are often dependent on others for this information.
How to deal:
Benefits: Redirecting our attention to what we do know, helps us to have a greater sense of control over an otherwise uncertain situation.
Guessing offers us a sense of direction, even if it may require course corrections after more clarity has been gained.
By choosing whether or not to take action, we regain a sense of control over our situation. If we don’t take action, we’ve done so by choice. If we do take action, we may experience the benefit of helping ourselves and others get unstuck.
Potential risks: By choosing to take independent action, we run the risk of over stepping our authority (if on the job), or being blamed for a less-than-desirable outcome. This might not be a problem unless the result of our choices have unintended consequences or otherwise does not turn out well. Either way it is important to consider our choices carefully.
After a change - Difficulty letting go.
Issue: It can be difficult to let go after a change has been announced or has already occurred. We want things to stay the way they are, and we have been informed, one way or another, that this won’t happen.
How to deal:
Benefits: Listening to others can help us become aware of behaviors we otherwise might not have noticed (and which are likely annoying to others). With this knowledge we can explore our fears and other reasons for resisting the change, and can pinpoint areas we already accept as well as what we need in order to let go of what we’re currently holding on to.
Relying on our support network can be very helpful in providing us with sounding boards, insights and guidance to help us move forward.
Potential risks: Sometimes there are flaws in a proposed change that need to be worked out in order for us to trust it. When everyone is in listening mode, the result can be a transition plan that honors everyone involved. Sometimes, however, our needs might go unheard, if other parties involved don’t have their listening ears on or are otherwise resistant to our requests.
Exploring our fears requires brutal honesty with ourselves, and that can be uncomfortable for some. This may require letting go of our need to hide behind our pride and ego, and step into a place of vulnerability; a rewarding, but sometimes difficult, place to be.
If we aren’t aware of our solace needs, we might receive feedback that runs contrary to our best interests. Knowing what we want before we seek it is a helpful way to avoid this experience.
Shifting out of fear.
Fear is a very complex emotion, but is also one that we can shift if we remain conscious to its presence, and our reactions to it.
While it is important to allow and accept our fears, that doesn’t mean we have to dwell on them incessantly. Rather, by allowing them to flow through us, recognizing the information they provide, and adjusting our perceptions, beliefs and behaviors around them, we open the door to much more positive experiences as a result.
Next week we’re going to explore the complexity of our individual reactions to change, using this model as a foundation.
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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