Why do we find change so difficult?
In all my years as an NLP Practitioner and a Life Coach, I would say that fear of change is one of the commonest limiting beliefs I see. So why is it that change is so hard for people even when their current situation, the status quo, can even be one of misery?
Humans have a natural inclination to resist change and embrace the status quo. This behavior is not necessarily an irrational or pathological response; it is rooted in the evolutionary psychology of our species. Over time, humans have learned that change can be dangerous and disruptive, while the status quo offers stability and familiarity. Therefore, it is essential to understand why people fear change and accept the status quo.
One of the primary reasons people fear change is because it represents the unknown. Human beings are creatures of habit and seek comfort in familiarity. Change can disrupt established routines, relationships, and expectations, which can be challenging for people to navigate. When faced with the unknown, many people experience anxiety, stress, and fear, which can lead to a reluctance to embrace change.
Additionally, people fear change because it can lead to uncertainty and unpredictability. When things are uncertain, people feel as though they lack control over their lives, which can be a source of great stress and anxiety. Change can also create a sense of unpredictability, where people don't know what to expect or how things will turn out. The lack of control and predictability can be daunting, leading to a preference for the status quo.
Another reason people fear change is because it can threaten their sense of identity. People develop a sense of self based on their experiences and surroundings. When those experiences and surroundings change, people can feel as though their identity is being threatened. For example, a person who has worked at the same job for 20 years may feel as though their identity is tied to that job. If that job were to change or disappear, that person's sense of self may be threatened, leading to resistance to change.
In addition, people fear change because it can challenge their beliefs and values. When people are confronted with new ideas or ways of doing things, it can challenge their worldview. This can be particularly challenging when the new ideas or ways of doing things conflict with deeply held beliefs and values. For example, a person who has been raised to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman may feel threatened by the idea of same-sex marriage. This fear of change can cause people to cling to the status quo, even if it means resisting progress or social change.
Another factor that contributes to people's fear of change is the fear of failure. When people attempt something new, there is always a risk of failure. Failure can be humiliating, and it can damage people's self-esteem and confidence. As a result, many people avoid change because they fear the consequences of failure. This fear can be particularly strong when the change is significant, such as a new job, a new relationship, or a move to a new city.
Finally, people fear change because it can be painful. Even when change is positive, it can be painful to let go of the past. For example, when a person moves to a new city, they may experience feelings of nostalgia and sadness as they leave behind their old life. This pain can be overwhelming and can cause people to avoid change altogether.
In contrast, people tend to accept the status quo because it offers stability and predictability. When people know what to expect, they feel in control and can plan accordingly. The status quo also provides a sense of familiarity, which can be comforting. For example, a person who has lived in the same house for their entire life may feel a deep sense of attachment to that house and the memories associated with it. This attachment can make it challenging for the person to leave and embrace change.
Moreover, people tend to accept the status quo because it is less risky. Change often involves a level of risk, whether it is financial, emotional, or physical. By contrast, the status quo involves a known level of risk, and people are often willing to accept this risk rather than risk the unknown.
This is where NLP and Life Coaching can help. If you're struggling to make changes then a Life Coach can act as a support, to help you enact the positive changes you wish to make while helping you overcome the fears that these changes can present.