Conquering our fears: the fear of change

17 Aug

A wise mentor once told me that life is all about choices.  You make a choice, accept the consequences and then make another choice.  The point is we always have a choice.  No matter how difficult, challenging, heart-wrenching or unmistakably fearful our choices may be, we always have them.

Fear of Change

Fear of Change

Many of the choices we make on a daily basis involve little thought and are almost to the point of non-consequential!  They do not seem to affect us that differently depending on which direction we choose.  If I had chosen the Pad Thai for lunch today instead of the Hibachi Shrimp, would it have made a difference?  They are both equally delicious and offer similar nutrients, so most likely I would have enjoyed both dishes similarly and would have achieved the same full effect once I cleaned my plate.  As I sped down I-40 tonight, heading home after a long day on the road, I was faced with the choice of completing 1/2 of my work-out to alleviate some of the pressure I was likely to face tomorrow when leaving work early to make a 5:30 spinning class.  I chose to complete my weight lifting routine, which in turn does ease my mind for the workday that lie ahead.  However, I could have managed everything on Tuesday with no difficulty… just minor inconvenience.

But what about those choices that involve life-changing consequences?  Should I change my career path at my age?  What if I went back to school?  What if I am single after years of marriage?  Should I move to a city that makes my heart skip a beat?  Those changes generate negative emotions such as fear.

So why do we FEAR change?  I think I know why…

Life has no GUARANTEES!  I think everyone can agree, with the exception of death and taxes (aren’t you tired of hearing that one???) there are no guarantees in life.  However, you know what you have today.  You know what it feels like to wake each morning, in your familiar surroundings, and walk in the same path you walked the day before.  But what if, you woke one day, and decided to take a new path?  One that was unfamiliar, with none of your usual comforts and no guaranteed outcome?  The initial thought breeds FEAR, and that is why many of us reject change altogether.

The last year of my life has been one of major change.  I have learned, somewhat painstakingly, to survive on my own.  I have found small comforts in sprawling out over the width of my queen sized bed, nestling within the folds of my Downy scented sheets, spending countless hours dining, blogging and reading within the confines of my special haven.  It has become my safe spot; it is my new FAMILIAR path.  However, in addition to being forced to accept change I have also embraced it.  I take each and every opportunity to explore our gorgeous country; I drove solo along Highway 101 with an exhilarating freedom that cannot be defined within my limited vocabulary.  I have developed friendships over 2,500 miles from home that were a direct result of voicing my innermost fears and discovering an uninhibited side of myself that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.  Through blogging and journaling, I can now see a creative soul that yearns to offer herself to the world, that is, if the world is willing to listen.

All of this change hasn’t come easily; there have been tears, smiles, fears and joy.  But most of all, it can be summed up as UNCERTAINTY.  Whether you define your fear of change as a fear of uncertainty or a fear of the no guarantee clause, it is still about fear.  How do we conquer that fear?  Are we looking for reassurance from the outside world that our decision is the right one?  How can we look within ourselves for reassurance when it is something within our own psyche that holds us to that comfortable, familiar path in the first place?

I find myself, today and each day forward, facing some of the biggest fears of my life.  At certain moments I feel the fear to the point of exhaustion and utter disgust, leaving me wondering if my familiar path is an easy escape from this state of uncertainty.  However, those moments fade quickly and I am left with the reason why we consider change in the first place: the new, the unexplored, the exciting realm of the undiscovered world.  And that undiscovered world, waiting for me, gives me the strength to move forward.  It motivates me.

So how do we conquer our fear of change?  I cannot answer that question, at least not for everyone.  But I can tell you this: when faced with choices, that is, life-changing choices, only then will you realize your true strength and character.  Whether you choose the familiar path, or choose a new and undefined adventure, you will find strength in resolve and discover something new about yourself.  You will endure.  I leave you with a final thought: trust your choices no matter whether they are familiar or unique.  Whatever path they set you on, you can always make another choice and alter that path again…

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One Response to “Conquering our fears: the fear of change”

  1. Nazanine August 17, 2009 at 11:07 pm #

    All I can saying is that you are growing Carissa! I am so proud of you (especially today). I know fear plays a big role in most adult’s lives but I can honestly say once you learn the depths that “FEAR” can play in our daily lives we begin to grow. Some people never take steps because fear paralyzes them others are fearless and just keeping make the leaps through life. It’s an individual journey and being able to understand fear is half the battle. Change is inevitable. Embrace life and the unknown. One small step outside your comfort zone could lead you to progress beyond what you ever imagined. May all your dreams come true!!!!!!

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