The Paralyzing Fear of Epic Change

Making a change, depending on its size, can be a very scary thing.

Your mind will "helpfully" come up with many reasons and distractions why you don't have the time, or the energy, or the resources to make that change... but the truth is.. if it's something you really, really want, deep down inside, those distractions won't be enough. They won't fill the hole that yearning has created in you. You are hungry for something more.

Not to mention the consequences of that change! "What will people say?!" "There will be rioting in the streets." "Everyone is going to think I'm a phony." "People are going to hate me"... Whatever extreme b*llsh*t your monkey mind is spewing.

I've experienced the great unknown of epic change a few times in my life. One of the scariest parts about it is that to incorporate this new thing into your life, it actually means getting rid of something that currently exists in your life. Which can be really hard to let go of. For example, the smaller change of going for a walk every morning after not moving for months means that you are giving up staying up too late on social media, or perhaps being super productive as soon as you wake up (like you really were anyways).

Where as the bigger change like deciding to leave a partner or change career paths or move to another part of the world can be WAYYYYYY scarier because you are saying goodbye to so many more 'knowns' in your life. It's not just one little habit that's changing - it's the world as you know it!

But you know what?

It is better on the other side.

If you have huge amounts of fear built up around a change you are thinking of but at the same time you CAN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT... That means it's time for you to move! It's your inner wisdom screaming at you to listen to what is best for you. While your scared ego tries to keep things "safe" and the same.

I've had this torture with relationships (especially unhealthy ones). You can see all the reasons your situation isn't working but you start to doubt anything could ever be better. "You wouldn't be able to find another partner... He is the love of your life... You've invested way too much time, money and energy into this relationship, it's too late to back out now... What will your family think?!.. What will his family think!?"... excuse after excuse.

It took my parents telling me "You know that you can leave, you are not trapped, and we are here for you." for me to even start to believe that was a real option.

My point is, I finally got out, and it sucked for a while.. but at the same time, there was so much peace inside of me. It felt right. I slowly took steps to rebuild my life in the direction that I wanted and it has been amazing since.

There is no doubt in my mind that it was the right decision for me at the time.

Looking back on it, it is SO OBVIOUS. My intuition was screaming at me for months but I was so scared about what that change actually meant and who I might be making mad. When in reality, it meant that all this internal conflict and disorder would calm down. It meant I would be happy. It meant I would be on track.

Three years later, I'm having new fear of change come up. Something I know will be good for me but at the same time is completely terrifying.

It's really hard when you are in it. I've heard Jess Lively refer to it as drowning. The ego and intuition are so aggressively at battle it is hard to think straight. Some days are exciting and full of possibilities and some days are hopeless and trying to just accept what is.

How do you get out of it?

I really don't think the internal confusion will stop until you do something to satisfy that desire for change. Maybe it doesn't have to be in the way you originally thought... is there a creative way to get the new thing and keep the old thing?

What has helped me, is identifying what the fears are that I am having. Asking myself, "What am I afraid of?" and "Why?" and "Why is that?" and "Why?" again and finally "and what else?". Once those fears are out of your head and on paper, it is much easier to look at them and judge their validity.

Another exercise that really helped put things into perspective is a good ol' fashioned Pros and Cons list. I divided a sheet into four quadrants. The top left is "Change I want to make", top right is "Not changing". Then the top half of the page is the "Pros" for doing those things, the bottom half of the page is the "Cons".

Writing it out this way made things pretty painstakingly clear. The Pros for doing the thing I want were all positive sentences, in line with my values. They sound amazing when read out loud and give me excited shivers. The cons for doing the thing I want were all fears with weak arguments.

The pros for not doing the thing I want are just buying more time and maintaining the status quo. Nothing exciting or spectacular there. The cons for not changing were full of things going against my values and feelings of authenticity.

In this matrix, it is pretty frickin' clear what the heart wants, and what the next step must be - that is, when I'm are ready to take it...