How do you feel when something happens in your life and you can’t do anything about it?
Powerless? Frustrated? Angry?
Maybe you got fired by text message, lost your savings overnight or became ill?
We all have been in situations where we didn’t have control over what happened. There was nothing we could do, except to cope with our fear while trying to comprehend our new circumstances.
But what about change that you initiate to achieve your goals or make your life better?
Oh, this is scary, too, although for another reason!
You know it, don’t you? The fear of the unknown, together with a pool of self-doubt filled with “what-ifs”, can effectively keep you running in place. (You will still be sweating, though!)
Should I marry this guy or shall we have kids? Is moving to another country a good idea? Do I stay in touch with my abusive parents or do I go no contact?
You are not alone. I had my fears, too. Want to know how I overcame them?
Give me a break!
There have been moments in my life when I had to make changes — for the better or simply to survive. Moving to another country was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made.
But you see, my toxic relationship with my mum was poisoning my soul. I didn’t want to become like her, and I wanted to be a better mother to my little son. The decision to move far away and start a new life felt right.
Was I scared?
I was terrified! Moving to another country with a 6-year-old kid, leaving my friends, my career, my family and everything I knew behind, felt like jumping from a cliff into a deep pool of “what-ifs”.
But staying in the middle of the perpetual drama created by my mother was scarier, so I took the plunge. Today I’m certain that my list of final regrets has become shorter because of that decision.
Want to shorten your list of regrets?
Read on. 😉
Ways to Ride a Cloud of Fear
How do you conquer your fear of change?
You can pierce the bubble of fear or transform it into positive energy that will help you pull the change through and improve the quality of your life.
Accept the uncertainty of the outcome.
That’s your first and most important step — don’t try to skip it! Uncertainty is a part of any change because no one can control the outcome. Not you, not me, not the European Commission or the President of the United States. (Mr Putin doesn’t control it either, in case you’re wondering.)
Accepting the uncertainty helps you to focus on the things that you can control, like the way you view the situation. And that brings us to the next tip.
Play good vs. bad scenarios.
Ask yourself a question: What could be the worst and the best possible result of a change? Imagine both in detail. What do you see?
Here’s some good news – more often than not, the worst-case scenario isn’t as bad as we fear! And it’s definitely far from a global disaster.
So instead of fixating on problems or suffering from imagined failures, tune into the possibilities and success, programming your brain for the positive outcome. Stick this enchanting picture to your forehead if you must! (Although the fridge door would do, too 😁)
Accept the risk.
Because you can’t anticipate the outcome, there will be always the risk of things not going your way. However, staying where you are can be much riskier, indeed.
Let’s say your boss constantly coerces you into working late hours and weekends, dangling a desirable promotion as a carrot. Deep inside, you know that he’s abusing you and that you should do something about your situation. You could say nothing, keep doing all the work and hope for your boss to change. Or you could explore other possibilities — it’s up to you.
What would you choose?
Staying with an abusive, dysfunctional person is bad news for your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, no matter if it’s at home or at work. It can also damage your health.
Turn on your curiosity and excitement.
Your mind prefers a predictable outcome to uncertainty. It’s the way your brain works — you know that. But your brain is also flexible and adaptive, perfectly able to grow and develop as long as you live. It means that you can train it to overcome fear and thrive in change.
Imagining what your life will be like when you go through a change helps to ignite excitement, and excitement is what keeps you on the right path. Isn’t it exciting?
Curiosity is the key for any development; it urges us to learn something new that we later implement into our lives. So tickle your curiosity and expand your horizons, and you will never be bored!
Hold on to what’s certain.
Even in the middle of a huge change like a divorce or the death of a loved one, there will be things that will stay the same. Focus on what’s unchanged, and it will help you withstand uncertainty and pain. It may be your best friend, the work you love, your strong mind or creativity flow, your passion for cooking or travel, or any number of things.
What are your anchors?
No matter what you want to change — your job, partner or something else — you need to be prepared. Omg, for a possible failure.
And the best way to get prepared is to become a researcher. Do you have enough money to have another child or would your spouse be able to find work if you say yes to a job in another state? Are there schools for your children there, or how do you handle your finances if you leave your abusive husband now?
Asking the right people for advice is a great move, too. Believe it or not, you’re not the first or the last person going through a change. Those who have already made it might help you with good advice, saving you time and trouble, possibly money, too.
Give up your perfectionism.
Nobody and nothing is ever perfect. Perfectionism is a myth.
“Yeah, tell me something new! But how do I stop it?”
The secret is simple, like all truth: settle for “good enough”, hard work and small steps.
Author Ernest Hemingway once said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.”
The problem with life is that we don’t have the luxury of the first draft — we get only one try. But every failure is an important lesson we can use in the future.
Some changes are too big (and potentially painful) to manage them on your own. Ask a good friend or find a mentor to stand by your side to share your progress and worries with, and to support and motivate you when you feel like giving up.
Change has become a symptom of our time, where change for the sake of change is a common phenomenon. Sometimes we need to stand firm where we are to grow, believe it or not.
But avoiding change at any cost is the other extreme that will keep you stuck when you’ve grown out of your old skin and change is needed for you to survive, grow, and thrive in life. Even if it scares you.
Summon up your courage and trust yourself. You will be fine, even when some of your projects fail. The world will still be there to offer you new possibilities. Choose wisely what needs to be changed and what’s worth keeping as it is. But remember that your health and happiness are not negotiable.
Don’t miss opportunities. Face and conquer your fears, grow, and live with joy.
I believe in you.
Do you believe in yourself?
Irina Bengtson, PhD
Irina is a daughter of a narcissistic mother, clinical psychologist and a founder of www.LoveGrowBeHappy.com. She combines her professional knowledge with a healing experience to help other daughters of narcissistic, hurtful mothers break free from their dysfunctional relationships. She’s a creator of online courses THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO DE-STRESS AND ENJOY LIFE NOW and HOW TO COPE WITH A HURTFUL MOTHER AND RECLAIM YOUR LIFE.
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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.