“Everything in life that matters requires risk.” ~ Anonymous
As a BIG fan of human motivation, I’ve always loved memes, mantras, and messages that inspire us to embrace change—as a force, as a process, and as a “constant” in life.
Of course, the simple idea of change can arouse some powerful thoughts and emotions—from fear and anxiety…to excitement and wonder…and everything in between. As humans, we naturally tend toward stability and certainty…and typically go to great lengths to avoid instability and uncertainty. This is why change can sometimes feel so uncomfortable: It takes us away from that safe, familiar, “place” where there is no muss, no fuss, and no demands being placed on us. That’s right, change can be “demanding”—it requires us to exert effort. It requires us to negotiate logistics. It requires us to adapt to the unknown. And when we finally put on our “big girl/boy pants” and step out of our comfort zone, ughhhh—we may not even see the changes that we’d been hoping for (at least, not yet).
Nope, change doesn’t always instantly feel good…no matter how good the change may be for us in the long run.
As you contemplate taking those first, uncertain steps in your journey toward positive change, don’t just embrace the crazy spiral of feelings that twirl, whirl, and swirl inside you—if anything, consider yourself completely normal if you find yourself in the eye of this emotional “tornado”. Right now, your head (e.g., “I need to do this”) and heart (e.g., “No way…I can’t do this!”) are opponents in an endless tug-of-war—boldly pushing you toward those oh so scary changes, while simultaneously pulling you right back into that oh so cozy comfort zone. Just as you hear the voice that says, “OK, let’s do this!”, you hear another voice that says, “Mmmmmm, nah…let’s not”.
But hear this: It’s okay to be decidedly undecided. It’s normal to be frozen with fear. Even if you have some clues about what your “destination” holds for you, you may feel clueless as to how to “get there”.
Welcome to the club!
In all of your clueless, fearful indecision, you may find yourself feeling a bit like a moth: Getting too close to the flame could dramatically decrease your chances of survival. Yet, here’s the funny thing about “flying into the flame”: It’s THE THING that’ll allow you to first, survive the change process…and then, thrive in its aftermath.
When we choose to open ourselves up to the positive changes that lie in wait for us, we have an opportunity to learn about our strengths, weakness, and passions. We have an opportunity to become more resilient, determined, and gutsy. We have an opportunity to feel mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fulfilled. And we have an opportunity to come one step closer to our true self—a chance to not just steal the spotlight, but to shine.
When we gradually see ourselves—not people, places, or things—as the biggest barrier to change, a funny thing happens. We find it easier to walk through that invisible wall of fear with confidence and determination. All of a sudden, we feel a greater sense of control over achieving the results that we desire. We feel competent about our ability to master the skills that drive positive change…and feel that we’re worth the efforts expended in doing so.
And when we allow ourselves to feel empowered by the idea of change, we become inspired to pursue other, more challenging changes. Eventually, “change” becomes part of our identity—one that connects “I think I can do this.” to “I am doing this!”.
And before we know it, we haven’t just “embraced” change—we’ve wrapped our loving arms around it.
I would be a liar if I said that change is “easy”; in fact, some of the changes that we face throughout our lives are often associated with the greatest struggles of our lives. But luckily, we become increasingly more skilled at navigating change throughout life because, yep, you guessed it—change never ends. Sure, when fear overwhelms our ability to see and feel the positives in change, it can feel like a deep, murky pool of water with no visible bottom. But one thing is crystal clear: If we allow fear to dictate our willingness to change, we may miss the opportunity to become the person we’re supposed to be.
So, channel your inner daredevil and “fly into the flame”.
When you do, you won’t feel that change is being forced upon you. On the contrary, you will become the force of change.
About the Author: Joshua GARRIN is one of Your Monthly Mentors, an Award-Winning Health Psychologist, Author of “The I-Way to Well”, Personal Trainer, Health Coach, and Self-Motivationalist. He holds a Ph.D. in health psychology, an M.S. in cognitive psychology, and a B.S. in general psychology and journalism and currently resides in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Following the completion of his doctorate in 2014, Joshua was the recipient of Walden University’s Harold L. Hodgkinson Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research for his inquiry on health beliefs, outcome expectancies, and stress appraisal in college seniors. Read More…