How To Overcome the Fear of Change - How To Win a Man's Heart

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August 15, 2016

How To Overcome the Fear of Change

# 1. Follow the advice below

Dr. Susan E. Schwartz

“She started out in the world with averted face…and all the while the world and life pass pay her like a dream—an annoying source of illusions, disappointments, and irritations. [Jung, Carl, 1959, par. 185]”

This quote from Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist, describes what it is to walk around with fear. We find it in our dreams as well. The fearsome situations, monsters, people we encounter there ad in daily life bring up feelings of fear. But they become apparent so we can address them and learn to cope with the types of emotions aroused by fear. Fear is a strange motivator for change and expansion of the personality. Of course, it can also contract us. Awareness that fear can be used and not having to overwhelm is liberating and helps propel inner and outer knowledge.

Little do we realize how hounded we are by fear. It affects our ability for intimacy in subtle and not so subtle ways. For example a woman appeared in therapy because she had trouble keeping her interest in any relationship. She began off well at the beginning and had energy but then it slowly began to wane, time after time. She was upset and wondered what happened. Each relationship began to fizzle at about the same amount of time and at about the same stage of getting close–or not. She traced them and found them lasting only a few months. She thought they had more substance than that.

She began to question her role in the demise of each and every one. It seemed that after this short time, she began to complain and comment that he did not get her or was too distant himself or did not give her enough in words, texts, or attention in any given day. She and he had regular times of seeing each other—not too very spontaneous. Sometimes they had fun. Sometimes they discussed how to get deeper. Yet, the nagging sense remained that she needed more. What? How to ask for it? Was she in fear? And, if so, about what? All questions people ask as they enter therapy and search for relational fulfillment.

So, she tried. She began yet again expressing her distress, but again he could not do it sufficiently. Do what? Be there, console, get her, get close. The issue hiding behind it all was not so much him as her own reticence and fear about intimacy. She was left questioning. Was it her? Was it him? How would she find out?

She could keep a journal of feelings, record her dreams, set up some quiet reflective time. Her task is to get over and into the fears of intimacy. By doing so, she might be more able to embark on a journey of love.

Dr. Susan E. Schwartz, – www.susanschwartzphd.com

# 2. Trust that whatever happens you can and will handle it

Cynthia Pickett

It sure is easy to stay with what we know. Even if it is not good for us or we are not happy, the unknown seems to be an even bigger monster for us to tackle.

Fear is our most crippling emotion. As FDR said in his first inaugural address “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” Fear keeps us stagnant; it keeps us from moving forward, but why? Usually because we are scared of making a mistake; scared of being hurt, scared that we are not good enough. All of these are life lesson emotions and we are going to experience them no matter what. Learning to work through all these various fears is what life is all about. The key to staying on our particular path is to listen to our gut, observe red flags, trust and have faith.

We are all on a journey to learn our individual lessons. As much as we like to think it is, life is not supposed to be strawberries and cream everyday. We would never learn about ourselves that way for it is in the hard times that we learn the most. To stay on path and not make things harder than they need to be listen to your gut. If you have a bad feeling then don’t do it regardless of obligation to others. Be obligated to yourself!

Look at the red flags and don’t dismiss them as “Well, I am not perfect either” or “everyone has their faults”. Both of which are true but also be very discerning about which faults you are willing to accept in a life partner and focus on becoming the person you would want in a partner. A person’s faults should never involve disrespect or violating trust.

Whether you have paid attention to the red flags or not, know that there are going to be rough times. The key is to have tough times without ruining respect and mutual trust. And lastly, trust yourself! Trust that yes, you will make mistakes; yes, there will be hard times. Trust that you won’t do everything perfectly, you will over look some red flags and at times not listen to your gut, and all of that is ok. We are perfect human beings, which means our imperfections make us perfect.

Trust that whatever happens you can and will handle it. Be a warrior in life; keep going forward. Keep working on yourself and going forward. Accept that fear is a part of this life just don’t let it stop you. As a dear friend recently pointed out on Facebook, “Courage is the willingness to be fooled while in love”.

Cynthia Pickett, LCSW, LADC – www.cynthiapickett.com

# 3. Make a conscious choice to monitor our own negative inner dialogue

Carri Nash

Why do we fear change? Even when we are in bad situations, such as an unhealthy work environment, we often choose to stay. Where does this fear come from? Mostly, our own negative thinking. We ruminate about all the possible catastrophic consequences we could face if we make a change. “What if I fail? What if I’m unhappy? What if, what if, what if????”

“I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically fear of change – I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back” – Erica Jong

Our inner dialogue, like Ms. Jong indicates, tells us to “turn back”. This is not a rational fear, like the kind you get when faced with imminent physical danger. This fear is the fear that is induced by our own hypnotic inner voice. The best and easiest way is to face these fears is to make a conscious choice to monitor our own negative inner dialogue. You catch yourself saying, “I can’t change jobs, what if I fail?” And after you catch yourself, you challenge the unspoken belief that goes with the question. “Is failing the worse thing that could happen to me? Is it logical to believe that I will fail?” Use your thinking mind to turn the uncertainty into an open door for hope, instead of a closed door that is protecting you from some imagined catastrophe. Don’t ask “what if I fail?” instead tell yourself “I am open to the future.” If you can talk yourself into fearing change, then you can talk yourself out of it, too. Most importantly, know that you are not struggling alone. This is a universal struggle.

“I will not live an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as a seed goes to the next as a blossom and that which comes to me as a blossom goes as fruit”. – Dawna Markova

Make the choice to face your irrational fears, and replace your fear of change with openness to new adventures. You can do this!

Carri Nash, RN, MFT – www.cnashmft.com

# 4. Expand your comfort zone and increase the pain of remaining in that tiny comfort zone

Loral Lee Portenier

Why do we have a tendency to resist, even fear, change? The answer is simple—homeostasis. As humans, we want comfort. Therefore, we all grow until we reach a stage that offers us an acceptable amount of comfort, then settle in.

Like the thermostat on the wall, when life cools off, our subconscious furnace kicks on and warms things up again. Similarly, when life gets too hot, our internal cooling system kicks on and brings the temperature back down to our comfort zone. Some people have a small range in their comfort zone, while others have a wide range, but homeostasis is operating for everyone.

What activates the furnace or AC in our lives? The pain of change. We fear that pain, so we do whatever it takes to return to our comfort zone. Short-term, that can reduce stress and calm our nerves. Long-term, that can be like a slow, soul-deep suicide.

Here are two approaches for overcoming fear of change and avoiding that slow death. The first is to expand our comfort zone. One speaker says that we should never do anything outside our comfort zone—just make sure that comfort zone is so immense that we can do whatever the heck we want. By expanding our comfort zone, we increase our capacity for pleasure.

The second is to increase the pain of remaining in that tiny comfort zone. Most of us don’t change until the pain of change becomes less than the pain of staying the same. Get creative and use pain (e.g., psychological or financial) as a healthy and effective tool to help reduce the pain and fear of change.

Whether you progress like a tortoise or a hare is up to you and your particular circumstances. But go ahead and find a way that works for you. No pain and fear of change is worth the cost of that soul-destroying state of living a life of quiet desperation. Even more—it’s ok to learn how to derive pleasure from the process of expanding your comfort zone. It’s your choice.

Dr. Loral Lee Portenier – www.sacreddreamscoaching.com

# 5. See changes as learning experiences and have an attitude of curiosity

Sherry Marshall

Relationships are always changing. However, when we are faced with big relationship decisions, it’s normal to feel some fear and experience doubts. Here are some easy ways to deal with your fears.

Our attitude can help or hinder us. Focus on the positive rather than a ‘glass half empty’ attitude. See changes as learning experiences and have an attitude of curiosity. Be aware when you criticize and judge yourself it lowers your confidence and self-esteem and ability to cope.

Remember thoughts are not facts so when you notice them, don’t necessarily believe them or get stuck in them. Take time to process feelings that arise but also don’t get overwhelmed by fear. Breathe and let go. Learn to meditate or do yoga, exercise or dance which will help you relax and become less stressed. Use creative and innovative ideas and learn and apply new skills to let go of how you think your life ‘should’ be. Trust your own resilience and ability to adapt.

Start to look forward rather than looking back. Trust yourself and the new direction your life is taking. Challenge your fearful thoughts and identify which are irrational. If you feel out of control, make a clear plan of action. Deal with what genuinely needs to be addressed on an emotional, mental, physical, financial and spiritual level. If possible, talk things through with people you feel close to like your partner, family and friends. You don’t have to deal with things on your own. You can also get professional support from a qualified relationship therapist.

Don’t focus on the future too much and try and stay ‘present in the now.’ Be kind to yourself and take things gently. It takes time to adjust to any new ideas and circumstances. Also remember that the things we may not like will also change!

Put the transition phase in perspective. It is natural to go through different stages and usual to have different feelings such as confusion, ambiguity, frustration, resentment, anger and hurt depending on the circumstances. Develop a new perspective on how to deal with change and begin to enjoy the possibility of something new in your life.

Sherry Marshall, BSc, MAA – www.sydneyprocesscounselling.com.au

# 6. Remember that the only thing to fear is fear itself

Amanda Patterson

One of my favorite books to recommend people is “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers. The basic premise is to face your fear and do whatever it is you’re afraid of because no matter the outcome it’s not good or bad; rather it is a learning experience. If you look at change in your relationship status as a learning experience then you can take what you learned from it. You may have learned to do it differently next time. You may have learned about yourself and something you can improve upon. You may have learned that change is inevitable and that you will go with the ebb and flow of life and relationships instead of fighting against the stream. What did you learn about yourself and relationships through this period of change?

Logically we all know that change is always occurring. Our hearts often feel a different way. Our hearts want to hold on to what feels good or felt good in certain parts of our lives. This is a time to bring the heart and mind together. It’s the place to appreciate what your heart is telling you and look back at what was as an intimate encounter. It’s also the time to listen to your head and know when it is time to allow natural change that occurs to happen. What is your head telling you? What is your heart telling you? How can you bring them together into one message?

Embrace change as a normal process of life. Appreciate what has happened in your relationship or in your singlehood. Look forward to applying what you learned as a result of this change. And always remember that the only thing to fear is fear itself.

Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.browardcounseling.com

# 7. Take stock of your thoughts, feeling, and the external circumstances

Marnee Reiley

Fear can be helpful to us. It can serve as a signal that we’re venturing into dangerous territory or putting ourselves in an unsafe position. We are lucky, however, to have a developed brain, equipped with a pre-frontal cortex that aids us in rational thinking and decision-making. When you consider making a major life change such as leaving an unhealthy relationship, entering into a committed relationship, or having children, take stock of your thoughts, feeling, and the external circumstances.

Is there truly something that warrants your fear such as physical harm that may come to you by taking a certain risk? If not, can you identify what thoughts may be contributing to your feelings of fear? Perhaps it’s a thought such as “I’ll lose my independence if I get married.” Can you gauge how true this thought is on a scale of 0-100%? What other thoughts can you add into the mix to alter the fearful feeling? Incorporating other thoughts that may also be true can bring our feelings into more balance (i.e.: “I will learn to share my life with someone I love.”). While we may still struggle with doubt and uncertainty in life, adding in fresh perspectives can increase our flexibility and allow ourselves to embrace change.

Marnee Reiley, M.A. – www.youroctherapist.com

# 8. The idea is to put our brains on pause for a moment while we make like Nike and “just do it.”

Dr. Colleen Long

Roosevelt said it best, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Yet we continue to build up in our minds how horrific things will be and spend a lifetime distracting/avoiding. I was talking to a client today who was contemplating breaking up with a man she knew was no longer right for her. She said to me through tears, “but Dr. Long I don’t want to feel the pain of being alone.” I pointed out to her that ironically, even though she thought she was successfully avoiding pain- she was suffering right then at that very moment.

It is through our resistance to those things that we fear, when we create suffering. Ironically, the pain we often imagine is much less than the suffering we experience when trying to avoid the feared behavior or change. In fact, you can look at the distraction one creates from changing as the quicksand that keeps us mired in our suffering.

If you’ve ever made yourself work out, made yourself go out to a social event when all you felt like doing is staying in- you know that most often times our imagination of the outcome is often much worse than reality. The idea is to put our brains on pause for a moment while we make like Nike and “just do it.” Oftentimes just doing the behavior we fear the most such as breaking up a dead-end relationship or taking a really good relationship to the next level- can be the corrective emotional experience we need to cultivate true change and growth within ourselves.

Sometimes I hear clients say “well I just need to get all my ducks in a row before I even think about ______.” You can put anything in the blank; losing weight, break up with him, agree to marry her, etc. Have you ever seen ducks literally get in a row? It takes the mother duck actually taking the first step out of the pack for the little ducklings to line up. In order for us to get our ducks in a row- we must often put one foot in front of the other and take the first step- even if it ends up being in the wrong direction.

Dr. Colleen Long – www.drcolleenlong.com

# 9. Follow the 4 tips below

Chris Adams Hill

Why is change so difficult and why are we afraid of making changes in relationships? Sometimes the fear is based on past experiences in relationships. Sometimes it is about not wanting to be alone. Sometimes it is an internal warning to avoid an unhealthy or dangerous situation. Whatever the reason, here are some concrete things you can do to help get past the fear of change.

1. Focus on the now.

What if I make the wrong choice? What if I’m more miserable when I leave this relationship than I am now? What if he/she changes and the whole relationship is a mistake? These fears arise when we try to guess what will happen in the future; none of us can see the future and focusing on it causes anxiety. Focus instead on the present moment. Is your life better, happier, healthier with this person in it? Do you have similar goals and values? Do you feel valued as a human being? Ultimately, all we can do is make the best decision we can with the information we have at the time and learn from our mistakes.

2. Understand how your past impacts your present.

Do you have a history of abusive relationships or other traumas? Was your family of origin unstable or unhappy? These experiences can have a dramatic impact on current or future relationships. Healing past traumas is crucial to building healthy relationships! Please seek professional help to heal these wounds and strengthen a healthy belief system so you can move forward without repeating the past.

3. Build strong communication skills.

Learning how to communicate with a partner is key to a successful and fulfilling relationship! None of us can read minds, so learn to speak your truth, ask for what you need and learn to really listen to your partner. Both parties need to feel heard and respected. This only happens when we know how to communicate effectively.

4. Increase your self-confidence.

Self-esteem and confidence come from the inside first. If we look for external validation to make us feel good about ourselves we will never truly be convinced of our worth. If we love and value ourselves first, then we attract people who also love and value us. The more confident and secure we feel with ourselves, the less fear we will have about the choices we make.

Navigating the world of relationships is challenging! It’s very common to find yourself in a place of fear when it comes to changes in relationships, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Take action, get support, and learn to understand and work through the fear.

Chris Adams Hill, LCSW – www.southvalleytherapy.com

# 10. To prevent stagnation and reduce fear of change, you must build your sense of trust in yourself and trust toward your partner

Brett McDonald

For most of us, it is in our nature as human beings to feel more comfortable with what is familiar. Venturing out of the ‘zone of comfort’ can involve risks and threats that are often anxiety-provoking. However, a significant amount of risk and negative consequences can occur when needed adjustments and growth are avoided. The trick is to find a balance between taking too many risks and making too many changes, and not taking enough risks or making enough changes. This is particularly true in relationships. Love, like anything, requires adjustments and change from time to time, otherwise you may create problems or miss opportunities for positive growth. To prevent stagnation and reduce fear of change, you must build your sense of trust in yourself and trust toward your partner. Often our need to cling to the familiar is really about anxiety, and the only way to reduce anxiety is to build self-trust and other-trust. Trust is built when needs are fulfilled. Are you preventing others from having a chance to know and respond to your needs? Are you neglecting and de-prioritizing your own needs?

Essentially, embracing change requires a sense of security and safety, and humans only feel secure when we are socially connected and fulfilled. Sadly, the more we resist commitment and change, the more interrupted our relationships can become and the more our sense of security is eroded. Prevent this downward spiral by challenging yourself to reach out and communicate your needs, take steps to nurture yourself and be nurtured by others.

Brett McDonald, M.S., LMHC – www.thedragonflyretreat.com

# 11. Slow down enough to notice all of the changes that you’ve successfully survived already

Elizabeth Baum

Have you heard of the phenomenon referred to as “change blindness”? It is when a change, most typically in an image, goes undetected by the viewer. An example: I show you that same picture of a winking turtle with a hat, but in one image the hat has three feathers, the other only two. One might scan the image and get the overall idea: turtle, hat, feathers, wink… The smaller details, like how many feathers in that cap, might get overlooked. There are reasons that this happens- including eye movement, distractions, and attention. Let’s focus on the aspect of attention for a moment, specifically as it relates to our relationships.

When a large change happens in a relationship, it can seem like a terrifying precipice. Maybe you’ve split with your live-in partner, and have never lived alone before. Maybe impending marriage threatens to rob you of your independence. Maybe the mere conversation of exclusivity fills you with terror. These do present as enormous changes. You may need to file your taxes differently, alert friends and family the news, or revise your social networking status. What may slip by unnoticed is just how much change has already been going on in your “change blind spot”, if you will. Rarely does our status change without an emotional predecessor.

Before the choice to get married arrives, for example, a series of smaller choices and shifts brought you there. What if big changes are simply more noticeable markers in a vast constellation of events? Perhaps they are like the North Star in the Big Dipper handle of life.

In order to avoid the generally unpleasant whiplash of dramatic change, it makes sense to slow down enough to notice all of the changes that you’ve successfully survived already. Why not start with today? It was warm this morning, but now you need a coat. You found new gray hairs. You didn’t get the job you had your heart set on. Your weekend plans fell through. The coffee shop on the corner closed… So much change all the time. Look at how resilient you are!

Seeing the small steps makes the large ones bearable. Always remember that it is a flow, not a beginning or an end. It is all your choice, your path, and you will be fine. If you’re reading this, you’ve made it this far.

Elizabeth Baum, M.A., MFTi – www.elizabethbaumintegral.com

# 12. Follow the 3 tips below

Bonnie Bloom

We are addicted to fear, it is what we know and therefore it feels safe. Fear shows up many ways in day to day life. Releasing fear is essential in developing healthy relationships. Romantic relationships however tend to exacerbate our fears and hit us right where it hurts.

These fears stem from our ‘stories’. Stories we have told ourselves for years- typically stemming from childhood emotional wounds. Tracing these wounds to their origin is deep work. Perhaps you fear your partner will leave you like your father or you fear having children and making the same mistakes as your mother. These stories hinder our ability to love, experience joy, and live fully.

Regardless of their origin, moving beyond these stories is not easy, but each time we open ourselves to change, even for a moment, we move closer to a new truth- a truth that empowers.

Simple steps to release fear and replace with empowerment:

1. Establish awareness on your fear based story. We must know what needs changing in order to make the changes needed. Ex: Your last relationship ended painfully. Therefore when you meet someone new you begin to tell yourself this fear based story, “If I open myself up to this person, It will end badly and I will be unhappy”. Acknowledge this fear.

2. Replace this fear based story with a new belief that empowers you. A belief that counters the old story. Ex: “I am responsible for my own happiness.”

3. Forgive. When we acknowledge these stories, resentments may come up. It is important to remember we all have wounds. Each of us brings to a relationship our own stories that determine our actions and reactions. Resenting others for their wounds does not allow joy but forgiving them brings healing and peace.

Cultivating healthy relationships means releasing fear. We must acknowledge, empower, and forgive ourselves and others to move forward and love, fearlessly.

Bonnie Bloom, M.A., MFTi – www.bonniebloom.me

# 13. If the caterpillar never changed it wouldn’t experience life as a butterfly

Brooke Campbell

Change is hard. One of the most challenging issues most people struggle with is adjusting to transitions in one’s life. If the caterpillar never changed, it would never experience the freedom of being a butterfly. Accepting change is about letting go, which creates a feeling of anxiety because we often like to feel in control. When we enter an unknown period of time in our lives, people often cling to what is familiar.

Familiarity keeps us playing safe in our lives. To take a risk can feel scary and may leave us feeling vulnerable. Dr. Brene Brown is a vulnerability researcher who cites that: “vulnerability is the birth place of creativity, innovation, and change.”

Risk being vulnerable in order to move past negativity in your life. When a relationship is no longer meeting your needs and you feel unfulfilled, acknowledge that it will feel uncomfortable. Risk feeling scared and vulnerable for a period of time before reaching ultimate freedom and happiness. You are worthy of love and belonging.

Brooke Campbell, M.A., RDT-BCT, LCAT – www.creativekinections.com

# 14. Cultivate self compassion

Traci Ruble

Change is scary for most of us so the first step in overcoming any relationship change you are getting ready to make or one that maybe is foisted upon you is self compassion. Eye roll? I know I know everyone says self compassion these days but I am not saying it to dismiss the turmoil you are in but offer up a more active form of self compassion that isn’t about smoothing over your scared feelings with a buzzword. It is healthy to get a little (or a lot) scared when there are big changes to the relationships that tether us to a sense of security. But our nervous systems often overshoot and terrify us rather than simply alert us that things have gone awry.

The steps to active self compassion:

1. Thoughts: Every time you feel the fear and your thoughts start gripping you with the worst case scenario, tell yourself “I am going to get through this.” and practice keeping your mind from carrying you off to terrifying lands.

2. Touch: As your heart races with panic put a hand on your heart and say inside “you are feeling really scared right now. I am here. It is going to be ok.”

3. The body: Now is the time for radical healthcare. Eating well, drinking enough water, exercising and sleeping. All have an impact on mood and the autonomic nervous system.

4. Relationships: Finally surround yourself with people who love you and who can help you practice active self compassion.

Traci Ruble, M.A. – www.psychedinsanfrancisco.com

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