Last week I wrote about how my life changing news threw me into disarray. This got me thinking about big life changes in general and how many of us, not just those suffering with anxiety, find it difficult to cope with being thrown into the abyss of the unknown. But should we avoid change because of fear of failure? Is it really better the devil you know or is there a way we could learn to deal with life changes in a more constructive manner than our minds often revert to?
Because life isn’t like a road map on which we can identify which route will take us to which destination, making a life changing decision such as whether or not to take a new job, whether to start a family or even whether to move to a new city, can leave use feeling paralysed with indecision and fear of making the wrong choice. We somehow scare ourselves into believing that, even if we’re unhappy in the current situation, what if it could be worse? Thoughts such as ‘What if I ruin my life through making a bad decision’ find their way into our minds, confusing us and as a result we can find ourselves choosing the safer option of staying put. At least we know what we’re dealing with then and who know, it might get better on it’s own!
But it is worth considering two things:
Making a change could make you happier than you are now, but you won’t know unless you try
If the change ends up being negative, you can always change again
Let me give you an example. I have a friend, one of my best, who was under-appreciated at the company where we both worked best task manager software. He wasn’t getting paid his worth, he was pushed around so many different departments he started to lose his confidence over his ability and generally he became quite despondent about his work. He had a family to support and the fear of not being able to provide for them or going somewhere worst, kept him at that same company for many years in hope of things improving there. Then out of the blue, across the board redundancies were made and he was gone (sad face). He was forced into a change.
And he ended up in a much worst job and company!
However, the change had spurned him on. The world hadn’t ended when he left his old job, he was still able to provide and he’d been successful very quickly in getting other work, no matter how bad it was. He put himself out into the job market and within 3 months got head hunted for a fantastic opportunity in a major UK company. This would not have happened if he hadn’t been made redundant nor if he hadn’t ended up at that other company!
He now absolutely adores his career, is paid well and has already been promoted to head of the department while winning awards for his contributions. Life couldn’t have turned out better for my dear friend and it gave me a wonderful sense of how fluid changes can be if we allow for them.
Nothing is set in stone; you always have a certain amount of power over how to move forward if you stop allowing fear to control your decisions.
Making decisions that will change the course of your life’s journey, are hard. But being thrown into the unknown without any say, can sometimes be even harder. (I firmly believe however that, like with my friend and like with me, these things happen because we have failed to make the decision and so fate intervenes!)
When struggling with the horrible, scary and unknown future, here is something to consider:
Change makes us grow regardless of the outcome
As human beings, we crave the security and safety of a plan. Some less than others, and some like me don’t even need the plan to come to fruition; it is just a way to stay focused on today rather than worrying about tomorrow. For example: I had a conception plan. Clearly it was totally unnecessary and I had no reason to think I needed one, but it made me feel ‘safe’. It put the fear of not being able to have children to one side because I knew I had a plan. So with that put safely away for another year, I made plans for this year. And then the stick produced two lines and the plans went down the proverbial toilet! Head spinning ensued for a few weeks.
The thing is, truly life altering events that you don’t see coming, good and bad, don’t really register at first.
It took me years to properly mourn the death of my father because my brain couldn’t connect the dots that he was no longer here with us. He was just ‘away’ and would come back at some point.
With good news such as pregnancy, it can be so much of a shock that all you’re thinking about is the things you’re going to lose, not about the things you’re going to gain. The fact you’re going to be a mother, one of the most miraculous gifts on the earth, doesn’t register at all. It doesn’t seem real.
If I’m completely honest, next year would have come around and I would have found another reason why not to try for a baby because the fear of losing myself and my identity, my life that I loved, and the fear that the changes would be negative may have overwhelmed me.
But without allowing change into our lives, without being thrust out of our comfort zones, we would never experience those truly magical moments that we COULDN’T have imagined. The ones we DIDN’T plan for.
If I had let the anxiety of change stop me from having a baby, I may never have had the chance of motherhood. And that thought is more scary than any other.
Embracing change instead of running from it, seeing it as an opportunity for growth and development regardless of the outcome, is a way to stop fear from ruling your life and the decisions you make. The fear of never changing, of never experiencing anything new or never developing as a person, should always be greater than the fear of the change.
And letting fear win, staying in a rut, just isn’t an option.
Helpful hint: Try and think of a time where change was forced on you or where you made a decision in-spite of the fear and think of how at the very least, the thing you were afraid of most didn’t happen and at best, it changed your life for the better.
For more information, this Huffington Post article on the 7 ways to deal with life changes, is also very useful especially in dealing with negative changes.