Before we get to the point of change we must set a new standard. And that comes with its own fears. What are our fears when setting a new standard?
One of those four responses is fear.
There is an inherent fear of change that fights with the impulse to change. This is the battle between our inner catalyst and our inner resistance. And the inner resistance often speaks louder.
Fear often gets in the way before the point of change: it prevents us from setting new standards that create the drive to change.
Here are 3 common fears that get in the way of setting new standards.
(1) Fear of Feeling the Uncomfortable Emotions
To reach a threshold where you resolve to live at a new standard, you must be willing to feel the depths of the pain you feel with the status quo.
In a culture that shuns the “negative” emotions, this is not easy. America, in particular, has as one of its founding principles the pursuit of happiness.
People who don’t look, act, or feel happy and don’t show indication that they desire to feel happy are labeled as mentally unhealthy or disordered.
Consider this for a moment: when a person is consistently unhappy, the accepted “normal” response is to prescribe medication to mask his “symptoms.” This creates a fear around feeling these emotions.
When we label anger and frustration as “bad” emotions, we stop ourselves from fully feeling the pain that results from the discontentment with the status quo. This prevents us from getting to the point of threshold — the point of enough — where we resolve and set a new standard.
(2) Fear of Loss
Change requires us to give up old or current ways of being and living in the world. And that creates pain of its own — even when we are not happy with the status quo.
We catalyze change by setting a new standard. All standards create a boundary of some type. And boundaries only work to the extent that you hold them tight.
Sometimes our new standards require us to cut people we love out of our lives, or say no when we would otherwise love to say yes.
That act of saying no is a loss that creates it’s own pain. Even if you’re doing it for your best interest, it’s still a normal fear.
(3) Fear of the New Way
We assume that if we are unhappy in our current situation, change will bring improvements. But buried beneath the surface is a lingering doubt:
What if it doesn’t?
What if it doesn’t work out?
What if it does work out but you don’t like it?
What if the thing you think you want isn’t actually what you want?
As much as we have pain with the status quo, we have comfort in the familiar.
This is an eternal tension in life:
Most people would prefer to be in the comfort of their current pain rather than the unknown pain of their hypothetical discomfort.
How to Tame the Fear
The best way to tame a fear is to put it in front of you. Name it. Embrace it.
Next time you find yourself resisting change, check in with yourself to see what’s really going on.
Take a step back and ask yourself:
- What is the fear here?
- Is this fear about the process of change itself?
- Or is the fear about setting the new standard that will force a change?
Start by naming the fear and feeling it. Once you can see it and pinpoint where it is, you have the tools to weaken it.
If you find this challenging, reach out. I’ve been helping clients navigate big changes for over two decades. I’m friendly with all the fears lurking in the shadows and I’d be honored to guide you through the process.