Unhappiness if a great motivator for change. Yet change can be risky, frightening and difficult, ‘else more people would do it more often. The first step to successfully making change is noticing your fear and resistance. The second step is understanding your fear.
Managing your fear of change
What we deem “acceptable” behavior is what we have seen modeled by the role models who raised us when we were young. These behaviors lead to deeply ingrained beliefs that are acquired throughout childhood. The beliefs and behaviors you learned as a child are the foundation upon which you built your life as an adult.
The thought of changing the very foundation upon which you live, regardless of how shaky this foundation may be, takes you into unchartered territory and risks the untethering from your biological or surrogate family. This is scary. What if your new behavior leaves you rejected, alone or in conflict? Yet if the belief system you’ve used to construct your life is limiting your potential or causing you harm, it may be time to take the risk and rebuild part, or all, of this foundation.
It can be frustrating and sad to realize that the beliefs upon which you’ve built your life are unhealthy; that your concepts of expression, love, success, relationship, commitment, and loyalty are simply inaccurate or not real, and it can be scary to let them go.
If you feel ready to make a change and are befuddled about why your resistance is high, or are stuck and can’t take that next step, start by deeply embracing these two truths:
- Bad role models are as powerful as good ones. Destructive behavior is not “normal” behavior. If you grew up in a household where you saw self-destructive or limiting or victim-like behavior being modelled, remind yourself that this was then, it was not you and you are at choice now. If negativity and victimization were the standard by which the adults in your life lived their lives, it’s perfectly understandable that you might build your life as an adult on the same model. Start by being honest about the cost of this behavior to you and to those around you. Get connected to the hurt and fear of the past so that you can garner the courage to move through your fear as you chose differently.
- Don’t let others determine your sense of Self – exclusively. Thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and shame, are often implanted by others, without regard for your feelings, welfare or needs. These beliefs have little or nothing to do with you and your behavior, but instead are the projections and emotional blackmail of others. The real question is, “Are you going to continue to believe these things about yourself or make a different choice?”
Most of what determines our self-concept is an interpretation of what we experienced. Often, the things we think happened to us and the way they happened to us are simply not true. Yet some of our deepest fears are related to letting go of our old stories about the past, about ourselves. No wonder the most vital ingredient to change is courage.