At some level or another, most of us are afraid of change.

One of the main reasons is that we get comfortable with the way things are. Not quite as comfortable as a frog being heated up in a bowl of water not noticing that’s about to be cooked. But almost.

Familiarity is good. It’s almost certainly part of our survival because potential enemies would have subtly changed things as they approached. So historically we’ve almost certainly been protected by surroundings that change as little as possible.

Sudden changes are even worse. So when our whole society changes overnight (or seems to) then we do our best to react against that change, even if it’s outside our control.

And, of course, being in control is the next issue with regard to being afraid of change.

Because something has changed, it’s less in our control than it used to be. Or, almost certainly, than we thought it was. Most things are outside our control but we’re happy enough with them because we’ve got used to them. The old “familiarity breeds contempt” symptom to an extent.

The next problem most of us have with change is being afraid of making a mistake.

When we were a lot younger, mistakes were everywhere. Toddlers don’t stay standing up for long – they make a mistake and tumble. But they’re fine with that and may even giggle when it happens.

But making a mistake as we get older is something we see as being bad. Which is only really true if it’s a catastrophic mistake (most aren’t) or if we don’t learn from it and continue making it.

There’s a lack of control when we make mistakes and new, unfamiliar, surroundings and situations make mistakes more likely. Whether it’s something as simple as your new Android phone moving around all the menus “just because” or anything else that happens that you can’t control.

We’re also afraid of failure.

Mistakes are bad enough but if we don’t adapt at all, we’ve failed. And, in our mind at least, everyone else in the whole world has noticed that and is probably laughing at us.

Yes, I know and you know, that’s not actually happening. But our mind reacts as though it is. So we fight against any changes that could lead us to that situation.

Self doubt also creeps into the equation in our mind.

If we haven’t encountered whatever it is that’s changed before, we get worried and doubt whether we will be able to cope.

That’s normal – again, it’s the approval of the people around us and our lack of control that’s bugging us.

But it means we put up defences against anything that could put us in that situation, so we resist any change that’s likely to do that. Even if the change could be good for us really.
Sometimes we get confused when things change (those menus again!) and that causes our minds to worry. Or we even start panicking about whether we’ll still be able to do whatever it was we managed to do before now that it’s changed.

All of those – and more – are why humans seem to have a built in system to resist change.

Once you know that, you can start addressing the different components of your fear and reducing the effect you allow them to have on you.

Ideally, embracing change is probably the best solution but that’s often easier said than done.

If you go down this route – and I would strongly recommend it – then I’d suggest starting with the things that have changed the least as your first option. They should be the easiest to change your reaction to and the small wins that they produce will help you to go on to bigger and better wins over time.

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You can find out more about why people are afraid of change and what you can do to get over your fear of change here.