When you have built a life for yourself, an identity that you like a lot and are in a place that you love, changing is (understandably) one of the last things on your mind. But life is full of unexpected turns. Sometimes it may be because you were laid off, or someone died, or someone got sick. Other times, things may just stop feeling right and you are unable to place a finger on it but your gut is demanding that you change internally or something in your external environment. Sometimes, it’s stepping into a new leadership position that you do not feel secure in. No matter how you color the page, to change is not a simple task. Here are 15 things that you may not realize you are doing because you may actually be scared to change.
“The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” ― Princess Leia
When you get scared, you hold on as tight as you possibly can to what you did know, even if you kind of understand that it would be better to let it go. You start suffocating people, exhausting memories, and trying to force things to go back to what they were. It would serve you so much better to just release it. Holding on is not doing you any favors, my dear. Fearing change is doing even less.
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” ― Steve Maraboli
It is hard to practice calming your mind, but if you don’t…more is at stake. When you are stressed in your mind, your body is stressed, your eating habits are stressed, your worth ethic is stressed. Nothing gets to take a break and you start making careless mistakes. More than you could ever apologize for. Take a breath, take it slow, and try try try to take it easy. Lean into the unknown, and let it change you.
Do your job and demand your compensation – but in that order. ―Cary Grant
When things are changing and you see that it is inevitable that they do…you start trying to control what you can with as tight a fist as possible. You start demanding more than is reasonable, in orders that don’t make sense. You start trying to make sense of your world by telling it how to run. Please know, that doesn’t do much.
A man lives by believing something: not by debating and arguing about many things. ―Thomas Carlyle
When you are faced with a situation that requires us to step up and change it is not a simple task. Sometimes, find yourself arguing with yourself. You will try digging your heels in. Try fighting your situation and then you will see that you are only slowing yourself down. This knowledge may threaten to take away your peace of mind, or may encourage you to quit fighting, the choice is yours.
5. Not Sleeping
“In its early stages, insomnia is almost an oasis in which those who have to think or suffer darkly take refuge.” ― Colette
You want to change, and you equally do not want to change. Your entire body understands that there is a transition in place. You may lose some sleep in the middle there for some time.
6. Not Eating
“If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.” ― Edgar Allan Poe
Sticky notes, phone calls, dinner plans, breakfast, lunch? You may have a hard time remember to do the important small things while you are stressing over the other small things that can only occur in your overthinking.
7. Pushing People Away
“You can’t always be pushing people away. Someday nobody’ll come back.” ― Jacqueline Woodson
Be careful with this one. Sometimes when you don’t like the place that you are in, you try and move people away until you are better. However, some people really do want to be with you and you can be hurting them by sending off all the time to battle your fear of changing alone. You are not the first to ever be uncertain about being in a new place (even internally). Please do let someone in.
8. Being Passive
“Passivity may be the easy course, but it is hardly the honorable one.” ― Noam Chomsky
Your humor can change when you are scared. You may try to present yourself as being bigger than you feel you are when you are scared. Sometimes, you can do this by trying to bring the nearest person to you down with passive aggressive remarks. You can throw out passive jokes that are not funny and say things that are unkind when when you are not settled in yourselves.
9. Acting Like You’re Not Scared
“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.” ― John Steinbeck
You may think that you can throw people off your scent when you are scared, but by trying you only prove what you are trying to hide the most. Acting like you are not scared of changing is not bravery. Everyone in the world is afraid. Acknowledging and being honest about our fears with ourselves and each other…that is bravery.
10. Worrying Alone, Often
“Don’t waste your time in anger, regrets, worries, and grudges. Life is too short to be unhappy.” ― Roy T. Bennett
Sometimes, you change your mind about a career path, a personal style, a location, you name it. When you do and you decide to take the plunge and ‘be who you are’, you may find yourself asking if this who you are. You may spend many nights in an identity crisis trying to ‘figure it out’. Please save yourself the headache and stop trying. Please just breathe.
11. Constantly Reminiscing
“You can’t have a better tomorrow if you’re thinking about yesterday.” ― Charles Kettering
When you are in the middle of transition, anywhere but there is better. You look back and realize where you are transitioning from. You think back to ‘how good you had it’. Life was simpler, wasn’t it? But was it? Was it, really? You know that this progress. You just may not realize that you are scared again, because change never gets easier. Remembering the past is great, but dwelling won’t do you any favors.
12. Unable To Be Present
“Sand was dribbling out of the bag of her attention, faster and faster.” ― Sarah Blake
Scared people do not focus well. When you are scared of new, you do really bad with new. You make mistakes that are silly and say things you don’t mean. You trip yourself up with errors and can never just enjoy where you are. You leave events early, you are days ahead in your mind but dreaming of where you are coming from. You are in a shifty time. Don’t beat yourself up anymore. You are human.
13. Not Imagining
“This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.” ― T.S. Eliot
It’s hard to dream when you are scared. When you are insecure and uncertain about who you are becoming and if you can ‘pull it off’, dreaming is the last thing on your mind. You may find yourself feeling directionless with very little vision. That is not a reflection of what you have to offer the world. It is a reflection of you being afraid, and it will pass.
“Man will fight and resist what they do not understand…” ― Oluseyi Akinbami
You may be standing your ground in the middle of transition with everything you’ve got. I want to remind you that that is the equivalent to deciding that you don’t really want to cross the street while you are in the center. You need to decide to move forward with your change or to run back and be frustrated with yourself for not being brave. The choice is always there.
15. Wearing Yourself Out
“…When your body can’t keep fighting, you don’t.” ― Nicholas Sparks
You will grow tired of being in all of this tension. In overthinking, in worrying, in not eating, in not sleeping. You will eventually decide because you have to. I hope that no matter how scared you feel, you choose to move forward. You probably can’t see it now, but change looks better on you than you realize.