Fear of Moving Forward


You’re on the verge of making some exciting positive change in your life, when suddenly you feel it: the cold, iron grip of the status quo. Even though part of you is excited about the possibility of change — a new job, a new home, a new relationship — there’s another part that’s attached to your present reality, comfortable with your inertia. And that part is making it very difficult for you to move forward.

Instead of feeling a sense of happy anticipation about the prospect of change, you might feel immobilized by a flurry of fears. There are so many questions: Am I really doing the right thing? How will my family and friends react to my new situation? Will I miss my old life? Or will I be overwhelmed by my new situation and decide that I’m just not up to its challenges? What if I fail? What if I succeed?

Fear of change is natural, normal and universal. Discussing your situation with a coach or trusted friend can help you realize that you’re not weak or flawed just because change makes you nervous. Make sure the person you confide in is someone who will acknowledge how you feel without judging you or projecting his or her own anxieties. Look for somebody who will really listen and understand your fear of change. The last thing you need is someone lecturing you or trying to problem-solve right away.

We fear change because it makes us feel out of control, and that our experience is unpredictable. Seeking out more information can help us get more comfortable with our future reality. You might seek insight from others who have made similar changes, or dive into books, blogs and other resources to gather additional facts and insights about the change you’re anticipating. “You can’t control the future and know everything about it, of course, but having as clear an idea as possible about what your postchange life will involve can help you feel a little less vulnerable.”

It’s natural to have some concern for the way people view you and your decisions. But if you are deeply worried or fearful that others will judge you harshly for making a change, “it might be that you are projecting your own self-criticism onto them. You could also be avoiding some ambivalent feelings about your choice and attributing them to others.” By taking some time for introspection, and by identifying and exploring those ambivalent feelings, you help quell them.

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