One of the things that we fear most in life is change. The greatest change we know of is from life to death and often times we relate to change as though it’s death itself. No wonder change is so scary! We get accustomed to things being a certain way, we want them to stay the same and we hold on for dear life. We know what we like and we like what we know. We each have our comfort zone and whether we realize it or not, many of our decisions and actions are intended to keep us there and maintain the status quo. As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.
Here’s the thing…although we may not be broken, we could definitely benefit from some enhancements. As human beings, we have the extraordinary ability to learn, grow and develop new abilities. Even greater than all of these is the power to choose. One leads to the other. We need to exercise our power to choose to step outside of our comfort zone; otherwise we become stagnant and stay small. As Tony Robbins says, “Either you’re growing or you’re dying”. So we need to take action in the face of our fears in order to learn new skills, expand and evolve. But this can be extremely confronting for us and oftentimes, even just the thought of taking new action or moving out into the unknown can be paralyzing.
But you know what? That’s the secret. It’s the THOUGHT of change and all the stories and meanings we make up to go along with it that actually scare us more than the change itself!
I’m currently on tour in Australia and I just visited a part of the country I’ve never been to before. My ultimate destination was in a remote location and required a fair bit of driving. I’ve been driving for 15 years in North America but despite having traveled to Australia a few times before, I’ve never had to drive here. Thankfully, I haven’t had any major accidents or traumatizing experiences in my experience as a driver and yet, the simple task of driving on the other side of the road had me completely freaked out. I made every effort to avoid it but nothing panned out and I had to face my fear. When it came down to it, I worked it out with relatively little difficulty and it really only took a few minutes to adjust in comparison to the weeks of angst I caused myself leading up to my trip. I was actually amazed at how quickly my brain adapted to all the changes. The driver’ side of the car, gear shifter and turn signal were all on the opposite side from what I’m used to, not to mention driving on the left side of the road and don’t even get me started on right and left turns!
The point is that I spent SO MUCH energy stressing about it, worrying and trying to avoid the inevitable and when it came down to it, it was all good. I’ll admit that it was a little awkward at first, but once I got the hang of it, it was actually a lot of fun and it felt good to just do it and learn a new skill! So the fear and anticipation of the new experience were significantly greater than any discomfort that the actual change brought and there were also unexpected benefits. I was able to transform 15 years of doing something a certain way in a matter of minutes! That’s what we’re capable of!
And that’s how it goes in life. The changes we’re afraid of are nothing like what we think they will be and in most cases, they actually end up being good for us. Take a minute to think about some instances in your life where you worried yourself sick about a change that was coming and then it turned out to be just fine or even greater than you could have imagined. Maybe it was a conversation with someone, a new job or business venture, a move, speaking in public, a social situation – you know which one I’m talking about.
Change is a good thing. It’s what keeps life exciting and interesting. It’s what keeps us growing and developing. So rather than waste our energy fearing the changes that will actually benefit us and allow our expansion, let’s embrace them, and use that energy towards becoming our highest selves and stepping into the lives we’ve been dreaming of.
What change are you afraid of? What actions have you been putting off? Are you willing to consider the possibility that what you’ve been running from could actually be a good thing for you? Step out of your life as you know it, play big and see what happens. If you miss your comfort zone, you can always have it back!
Written for The Daily Love (March 17th, 2012)