Even when we know it's good for us, why is change so scary?
I have recently gone through a lot of changes in my life, a lot of which I did not anticipate. The life I envisioned myself living a few years down the road has suddenly changed.
I moved to a new part of San Diego, from a loud, crowded city, to a quiet little beach town. From a somewhat congested apartment to a bright, open, breezy home. I am living alone with my dogs for the first time in years.
So many changes and adjustments that have led me to feel tired and depleted. I noticed that I started making a habit of constantly telling myself that I was tired and depleted, to the point that that started to become my daily reality. One day I woke up, I felt so unlike myself. I should be excited about this new chapter in my life, not exhausted, and wondering how I am going to adjust to this new reality. I realized…some things have GOT TO CHANGE. But what? That was the burning question.
I spent some time journaling my thoughts, my feelings, anything that could help me get to the root of why I was feeling so blocked. I evaluated these thoughts that I was telling myself and how I was showing up for myself. I realized that the negativity I was filling my thoughts with was attracting negativity in my life.
We tend to attract what we put out into the world, which was apparent now more than it had ever been.
Having the courage to look within me made me realize that I was choosing to let my new ‘circumstance’ negatively affect my thoughts, my mindset, the way I was showing up for myself. Instead of seizing this new opportunity and building a new life around it, I was allowing (subconsciously) my fears to darken my days.
As a first-time divorce', issues around money, property (and not to mention having a public profile and fan-base around your relationship) threw up a whole bunch of fears.
Were they valid? Potentially.
Was I justified to feel scared? Totally.
But were these fears real or just illusions of my mind?
See, we have the power to CHOOSE how we want to feel DESPITE the circumstances around us.
I have the power to choose how I want to feel. I have the power to make the changes that I need to design a life that I love and a life that I am proud of every day.
Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
But why is change so hard? Why is looking deep within ourselves, to determine what areas of our lives are unfulfilling, so scary?
We have become so bogged down by this idea that we are stuck with the circumstances that we are dealt with. The stress, anxiety, fear, worry, that we feel when we contemplate change has clouded our potential to really make a difference in our lives.
Why do we feel such fear and negativity about the unknown rather than embrace the exciting and unlimited potential of what things could be?
It is easy to sit here and identify every reason that we may feel this way. I could easily list off a handful of excuses about why I feel this way, but are any of them really valid? Blaming other people or situations takes away our power to actually take action and make a change.
Although there are a lot of reasons, and some of them may be external, it’s important to dig deep and realize that one of the main reasons why change is so difficult lies within us.
Our thinking patterns have become a problem. We get in our own way. We are our own worst enemies. We have developed coping mechanisms of dealing with uncertainty by running away, by falling back into old and potentially unhealthy habits, because that is the easy route.
There is so much more certainty in the distraction and avoidance than there is with tackling change head-on.
We have these learned patterns and behaviors that we have become so accustomed to that have clouded our judgment, that have taken away our clarity and our power. But you know what I have to say about that…? NOT TODAY SIR, not today.
Open your mind to every situation. Recognize the beauty. Appreciate the experience. Focus on it.
When we are feeling blocked, we need to understand that we are not required to keep living the same story. WE CAN REWRITE OUR STORY. We are the creators of our journey and it just takes a little bit of time and reflection to change the storyline. So how can we do that? How can we change our storyline?
First, find the courage to look within yourself.
Take a true, honest look at your life and determine what is causing you to feel blocked. What is working? What isn’t working? Can you identify a single area that is causing you to feel that way? The one area of your life that you are feeling the most uncertain about can be the thing that can most significantly change your circumstances, but you need to be willing to put in the work to do so.
I call this, your cornerstone for change.
So, what is the cornerstone for change exactly? This is the one area of your life that you can focus on. When you can focus on one area, one small thing, this will allow you to start building momentum. It is important to start with a small, measurable action of change. What we can measure, we can change. The problem with big goals is that there is only a single reward, it only comes at the end, and you only get it if you reach the goal. Those large, vague goals that you make for yourself should be set aside to make way for small and measurable changes. For example, you can decide that your cornerstone for change is to incorporate fitness into your lifestyle, manifesting itself into “I want to exercise more”. While that is a great goal to have, it is large and vague. Make a more detailed plan, such as “I will wake up every morning and get a 30-minute workout in before I start my day”, or “I will go on a 30-minute walk three times a week after work”. Each time you accomplish one of those goals you are initiating a behavioral change. As you are initiating these changes, not only are they impacting your behavior, but these changes can also impact the way your brain functions as well, which is not easy to do because our brain is inherently unmotivated and doesn’t like to put in more work than it has to. The more you engage in those behaviors, the easier they will become, and the less effort it will require on your brain. These changes will help you to feel empowered and proud of what you are accomplishing, which can start rippling out into other areas of your life.
Those small steps are everything because you are doing something even though it scares you, and everything you have ever wanted is on the other side of fear.
Now that we know what your ‘what’ is, it is important to now determine your "why." Why are you willing to put in the work? Your 'why' is what will put this desired change into perspective for you. It will help push you forward and take action. For me, I never felt like I had someone to show me the way. I felt like I always had to fight for what I wanted and for what I believed in. One of my biggest goals has been to be able to inspire other women. To help pave the way for individuals like me who felt like they didn’t have any guidance to help move them forward. Whenever I feel like I have lost sight of myself and feel clouded by negativity, I remind myself of my why. I tell myself “If I don’t make these changes, I won’t be able to inspire others the way I have always wanted to.” In essence, your "why" is what will help make your cornerstone for change a reality.
This is where your extraordinary life starts. It is not about you never making a mistake, never making a fool of yourself. It is not about doubt and uncertainty. Success is defined by our failures and getting back up despite those failures. It is defined by our perseverance, our effort, and willingness to change what has been holding us back. Not the perfection that society is making us believe that we should strive for. Take a second to realize how quickly your life can change; how quickly you can design a life you love; how, when you learn to let go and have the courage to show up, to take inventory and ownership of your life, you can transform your life into something wonderful, magnificent, the life of your dreams.
You can have it. You can claim it. All you have to do is believe that you are worthy to receive it.
- Krystal Nielson