Does this sound like you: “I don’t want to live this way anymore, but what will like be like when I’m better?” Or “I’ve been living this way for so long, will it really be better to be “better?” Change is scary. No doubt about it. Remember when you moved from elementary school to middle (or junior high) then to high school? It was exciting, but also a little scary. Have you ever moved to another town or state? Having to make new friends can be a nerve-wracking experience. Do you have kids? Although it’s exciting, there’s often a nervousness, especially being a first time parent when life as you know it completely changes. You get it…change is scary.
Why? If I’m not having panic attacks. Able to enjoy life again. Being a parent. Moving to middle then high school. These are exciting things, right? So why is it also so scary?
I can think of at least three reasons: 1. The comfort of the known is often easier than change. There’s no work involved with staying the same. Change takes effort – meeting new people, working out at the gym regularly, changing your eating patterns, changing your lifestyle. It is just easier to go on autopilot. 2. Fear of the unknown. Some people love new things and challenges. Many of us don’t. Think about why kid’s often don’t like the dark. You can’t see in the dark. You don’t know what (if anything) is there. Those monsters you can’t see can easily jump out and surprise or scare you. Unknowns are unseen. We can’t see the future. What if you put all this work into change and life isn’t better? 3. We tend to put doubt into our heads because when we expect the worst, it doesn’t seem so bad. By putting doubt into our heads “what if?…” “Yeah but…” “I don’t know if…” we set ourselves up for failure. With all those negative possibilities, why would you ever do something new and different?
Ok, so if those are some of the barriers that get in the way of change, what can you do to overcome them? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tells us that by changing our thoughts, we can change our behaviors. Think about something very difficult…do you have something in mind? Now tell yourself (about that situation): “This is impossible. I’ll never be able to do it.” How does that resonate with you? What did you notice in your body? What emotions did you notice? How likely are you to follow through with full effort on whatever that difficult thing was? Now think of that difficult thing again and say to yourself: This is really hard, but I’m going to give it all my effort and see how it goes.” How did that resonate with you?Did you notice anything different in your body? How about with your emotions? How likely are you to follow through with full effort (at least at the beginning)? Attitude is key to our success or failure. CBT is a wonderful modality of therapy that can help you change your thoughts and attitudes and by doing, change your view and behaviors. Whenever you notice yourself saying “I can’t” or “This is impossible” see what happens if you change those thoughts to “I’ll give it my best shot” or “I’ll get started and see what happens.”
As you’re using this thought-changing skill to move past fear of change, pay attention to your body as well. Fear is often held in the body. What is happening in your body when you notice the fears associated with change? What muscles are tight? How’s your breathing? Focusing on your body will help you understand and catch other times you have similar thought patterns.
I made this sound pretty simple huh? Change your attitude and you’ll change your life. Here’s the secret: It is that simple. Simple does not equal easy. Please don’t misunderstand me. I know, as well as you, that this work is NOT easy. It is work. And who wants to work on attitude? Why would you work on anything? Sports, music, school? It is likely because you want the final outcome. Is getting your life back worth all this work? Is the final outcome something you really want? If so, the only way to get there is putting in the work. You won’t become good at music or sports if you don’t work at it (unless you are some prodigy). 🙂 If you’re like most of us, it takes at least some effort to meet our goals.
A better life is within your reach. This is only one step in the change process, but it is a huge one. I wish you all the best in conquering your fears and starting (or continuing) your journey towards getting your life back. I am here to help you. Email or comment below!