5 Reasons You’re Afraid of Change

afraid of change

We recognize that change can be good for us. It’s obvious that quitting smoking, losing weight, or developing a habit of exercise will improve our lives.

Yet we fail at change over and over again. Why?

One reason is you’re doing it wrong. You’re practicing the deadly sins of change.

But another reason runs deeper. You’re afraid of change. You procrastinate because deep down, you’re scared to take the plunge, even if it leads to a better life.

There’s hope though. Once you find and acknowledge your fear(s) of change, you can take the steps to conquer them.

5 Common Reasons for Fear of Change:

The following are the five most common reasons for fear of change:

1. Fear of Failure

The fear of failure is common. People feel that they will  fail, waste time, accomplish nothing.

People fear failure because they are prideful. They’re scared to commit to something they could fail, so they don’t try.

This fear is unfortunate because it’s irrational, yet easy to subcomb to.

2. Fear of Pain, Discomfort, and Effort

It’s rational to fear pain and discomfort. It’s reasonable to avoid effort.

However, all these things prevent you from changing. They prevent you from running, from eating healthy, from starting your own business.

I group these things together because they all are basically the same. When you tackle one, all of them are tackled.

This is perhaps the hardest fear to overcome, but the most worthwhile.

3. Fear of Success

Seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? How could someone be afraid of success?

Simple:  success comes with baggage. People pay more attention to you. You feel pressure.

Most importantly, you will be different. Better probably, but different, and that can be scary.

It’s a real fear that many people face, and it can be debilitating.

4. Fear of Criticism

This is an interesting phenomenon that I’ve witnessed. People who put in the effort and have the skill to make, for example, a varsity sports team but ride the bench get laughed at while those that don’t try-out get away scot-free.

It’s unfortunate, but some people will laugh at you. You’re fat, why are you running? You’re giving away many of your possessions? What a crazy hippie.

People are so afraid of what others think, that they’d rather not try. They would rather sit in the stands than risk sitting on the varsity bench.

This fear of criticism by others is a real fear, and must be overcome before you can change.

5. Fear of the New

People are afraid of anything that’s new or different.

It’s an incredibly debilitating and painful fear. Instead of using the opportunity of life to live well, people put themselves in a cage and live a stagnant, mediocre life.

It sounds horrible, but understand that this fear – like any other – can be overcome.

How to Overcome Fear of Change

To overcome fear of change you need to look inside yourself. You need to acknowledge your fears and dedicate yourself to tackling them one by one.

Yes, it can be hard, but it’s well worth it. I used to suffer from all of these fears, but by putting one foot in front of the other, I overcame them.

Start slowly. Celebrate every small victory. Eventually, you will stand above your fears, and start living a better life.

afraid of change

Recommended Resources

Looking for more ideas and inspiration? The following are some of our favorite resources:

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Best Books to Change Life – one book can change your life. This is our recommended reading list for personal change and growth. The selection is a mix of time-tested classics and more recent bestsellers. Click here to see our Recommended Reading list.

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24 thoughts on “5 Reasons You’re Afraid of Change”

  1. Definitely.

    I experienced, and probably still experiencing, most of these fear. But sometimes, you have to suck it up and move forward.

    Easily said than done, I know. But it always starts with the decision to change.

    1. No offense but that “easier said then done” attitudeis a form of procrastination and has paralyzed many people from taking that first initial step toward change. I have found that this type of behavior can and will throw stones in your progress. I like to think once you have thought of it in your mind you are already on your way, once you have said it aloud you have set things in motion. How you word or voice your thoughts is very powerful, be careful not to plant seeds of thought you do not desire to reap later.

  2. My biggest fear to overcome is sucsess. Funny I know, but i’ve dedicated myself to being the way I am no matter what. Now that I see I can be much better I have been crippled by this mantra of never changing. Never wanting the attention, but still feeling I deserve some credit for my efforts. It’s an up hill battle, and there are a lot of bumps along the way. Knowing these common fears really helps me. I see that the best way is just one step at a time and don’t look back. Thanks

  3. Nice Article. This article removed my fear. After reading this article i started celebrating my smallest victory by giving treat to my friends.

  4. Fear of success is my demon. Not sure why.

    I have been successful in so many aspects of life and have accomplished much. I know that I could do so much more if I want to, but for the most part I find myself thinking ‘I don’t want to”.

    I put it down to thoroughly enjoying the journey of life, and not fixating on one destination. I want to (and have) experienced so much that I resist pursuing one goal with any passion or enthusiasm. Living MY life is my passion, and perhaps that is where I am most successful.

    Thanks for getting me thinking on this, and Manny thanks for bringing up the topic of fear of success.

  5. Ha, I have to agree with this. I did hesitate to play varsity because I didn’t think I would start and yes, I did end up mostly on the bench. However, now I can be proud of trying instead of embarrassed of not. It’s a good way to look at future opportunities.

  6. @John I, too, have a fear of success. For me it’s because I’ve always been fickle and that’s where I’m comfortable. But I’ve reached a point where I’m tired of being comfortable, because I know I could do so much more. I’ve started blogging about that, and started putting actual work around doing more with my life. I’m two months into this new experiment, and so far I’m making progress.

  7. Great post. I have been going through that lately when deciding to go to Alaska for college (coming from San Diego , sounds radical , but amazing) Huge risk going there, but at the same time, if I don’t ever make any risks in life, I will never accomplish anything.

  8. Fantastic article! Many times we develop great “reasons” that are really excuses of why we shouldn’t or can’t do something – that deep down inside, we really would love to do. Fear can paralyze not only the will to put forth the action, but in many cases it steers us in the opposite direction of opportunities. Fear never allows us to see our potential or even what “could be” for us. It will only share with us the discomforting experience that led us to adopt the fear, in the first place. I began facing many of my fears by looking first outside of my comfort zone, and then analyzing the fear to get a better understanding of why I had the fear. After gaining an understanding, I find that its a lot easier to rid myself of the fear – or simply give the fear new meaning; a more positive meaning. This practice has worked wonders for me.

    1. Very well put Deeone, alot of facing fear starts with analysis about your paralysis and then action from that analysis. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone is a huge step and giving the fear new meaning is also a great tool. I am beginning to put alot of these things into play to begin to attack some fears that I have as well. Thanks for your great input.

  9. Celebrate every victory! That’s huge for changing or making progress in your life. If you take every small accomplishment for granted then you’ll never know how far you’ve come. You’ll still be looking ahead to how far you have to go still.

  10. I deal with the fear of failure all the time. There are so many things I want to do and projects I want to start, but I get caught up in what would happen if I fail. What would people think? How would I pick up the pieces and start again? I’m working on pushing past my fear of failure and going for my dreams anyway. At least I have a chance of succeeding if I try, but I definitely won’t succeed if I let fear get the better of me.

  11. Hi Jake,
    These are “standard fears” and you are right to point them out. Genuine fears can be difficult to overcome without professional help. A lot of ‘fears’ fall int o the ‘excuse basket’. People label them as ‘fears’ but really they are often excuses.
    Digging a little deeper into this can reveal the reason(s) & therefore the remedy if the person really wants to change. Thankyou for this.
    be good to yourself
    David

  12. Nice post Jake. Fear of change is what holds people back in almost any area of their life. All of these basic, big, fears come into play and can be paralyzing. I’d add that many people are afraid of showing up as they really are. It takes a willingness to be very vulnerable. Helping people take those first steps out into the world, authentically, is a big part of the work I do.

  13. Great post it goes with my post today entitled _ That’s just the way I am… isn’t that a great excuse not to change to state to people – well, that’s just the way I am.

    We operate from 2 human emotions – FEAR or LOVE. If you have fear you don’t have love and if you have love you don’t have fear.

    Thanks for your insights,
    Great points,
    Nancy

  14. I think you make some interesting points. One I believe you have missed is simply change is hard and most people have no desire to do the work it takes. Much easier to stay stuck and blame your genes/parents or whatever.

  15. “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
    “If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”
    “If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.”
    “Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.”
    – Laozi

    Changing is like dying, your old self dies and your new self is born, a metamorphosis. If you love yourself and you consider yourself special and unique, the idea of changing yourself is identical to killing yourself.
    So, to paraphrase Lao Tzu, to change yourself you must first let go of yourself – by learning that all things change – thus overcoming the fear of dying.

    Unfortunately our society today praises identity, thus the fear of loosing it, thus the fear of dying.

  16. Mine is fear of failure and criticism because I have had an unbelievable amount of times I have failed at something I pursued for years and I see some one else find success and only had to dedicate a few months at the most. I can’t tell you how frustrating and enraging it is to give 200% of myself and never get a positive result.

  17. Fear of pain, discomfort and effort. Wow so true in my case. I can’t seem to go forward mainly because of this. But it does make a lot of sense. My question is: how to make such a decision? Ie to change and understand that such change is good.

  18. I cant overcome these fears :( i dropped Out of college even after being An honor student ( fear of failure)i Have no freinds ( fear of criticism), no Job ( fear of effort) … Im so afraid of everything i cry myself to sleep :( I know I need help because now I can’t even go out :/ what can I do?

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