Throughout your life, massive changes are going to take place. These massive changes can create fear and stress in your life. Even if the change is positive and something you initiated, that does not mean you will not feel anxiety and apprehension surrounding the uncertainty of your decision.
In today’s episode, we discuss ways to manage the fears and stresses caused by massive change in your life. They say everyone enjoys improvement, but no one enjoys change. Well today, you are going to work on enjoying both.
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Allowing Yourself To Be Constantly Stressed
When you allow yourself to be stressed, your body stays in survival mode. This can cause lasting damage to your body because your body was not meant to be in “fight or flight” mode on a continual basis.
The idea behind “fight or flight” is you need a short burst of adrenaline to escape danger or fight for survival. So your body goes Super Saiyan (pardon my Dragon Ball reference ?) for a short period of time so you can conquer or escape the danger.
The problem occurs when you are continually in this Super Saiyan state. Your body gets tired and the constant strain can cause your body to break down.
Is All Stress The Same?
It is if you are only measuring the whether you are calm or stressed. In that case, if you are stressed about a job interview or your children, you are battling anxiety and worry.
However, there is a difference if you are talking about what is causing your stress.
The fear you encounter at the job interview may not be the same fear you encounter as a parent trying to raise your children.
Whether we notice it or not, all our stress is related to fear. This matters to you because that means each fear is going to require a different solution.
Stress caused by a fear of uncertainty cannot be attacked the same way you attack a fear of rejection.
Fear of Caused By Massive Change = Stress
1. Fear of Losing Control
An unexpected death can leave you filled of regret, fear, and apprehension about how much control you have in your life.
We all know tomorrow is not promised to anyone, but when we experience death firsthand, it can cause a significant amount of stress.
If the person died of diabetes or cancer, you may start to wonder if you could have done more to keep them alive. You blame yourself because you were already making healthier choices, but you did not pressure your family because you wanted to keep the peace or you thought they would not listen.
You start to wonder if someone else could unexpectedly pass. This makes you wonder if you have the right priorities, which causes you to question how you spend your time.
Then you start to worry about what you are (or not) doing with your life. You have been procrastinating on losing weight, writing your book, or starting your business. You have always felt like you would eventually get around to accomplishing your goals, but now you feel the need to do something serious.
The need to “regain control” in your mind could force you to make a drastic change in your life. This change may not move you any closer to your overall goals. It is simply your fear of losing control that is causing you to overreact as you attempt to convince yourself that you are still in control.
An extreme example could be someone realizing that life is short so they decide to stop planning for the future. All of their decisions are based solely on how they feel in the moment. After all, tomorrow is not promised, so why go to work or plan for retirement? Just spend all the money you have today and let tomorrow take care of itself?
2. Fear of Failure
If you are dealing with a divorce or the loss of a job, you may feel as though you failed because you are comparing yourself to someone else. My parents were never divorced or my friend always has a job. Why can’t I seem to get be able to get it together?
The anxiety caused by comparing ourselves to others (imposter syndrome) can be exacerbated because we begin to exaggerate their success and our failure. The danger of comparing yourself to others is you never have a true picture of what someone else is doing.
It could seem as though things are easy for them, but they may be dealing with stress and anxiety in a different way. Not to mention, the high probability that you are not comparing apples to apples. They could have more access to money, a different education background, upbringing… really anything that could create a different outcome.
That is why I focus so much on building the proper mindset first.
The results you have in your life are solely based on the beliefs that you have today. If you want to change your life, then you need to change your beliefs first. Then your actions will follow.
Fear of Failure Leads To Other Fears
The fear of failure is a natural fear that we all encounter. If you do not get your fear of failure under control, it can lead to the fear of embarrassment. When we feel failure is imminent, we start to think worst case scenario.
Therefore, in addition to losing marriage or job, you start to think everyone will know and think less of you.
Fear of failure and embarrassment is why children do not raise their hand when they know the answer to the teacher’s question. It is also why adults rarely speak-up in meetings because they are worried about the possibility of being wrong.
At some point in your life, you have sat in a room when a question was asked and you knew the answer and said nothing. Then someone else answered the question or the presenter shared the answer, and you thought to yourself, I knew that.
Fears lead to procrastination and poor choices
In the case of marriage, after a divorce, you may tell yourself that you never want to get married again. Even if you end up in a serious relationship, you resist the idea of getting married for as long as possible.
On the other hand, you may have tied your value to being married, so you immediately enter another serious relationship, planning on getting married in a 3-weeks.
When you lose a job, you may want to find a safer, lower level job that offers “more stability”. You no longer have the aspirations you once had, and tell yourself you are waiting for the economy to get better.
This can happen even if you did not lose your job, but your boss overlooked you for a promotion.
As a result, you do not apply for another promotion within your company because you believe the supervisors only promote the people they like.
Setting Yourself Up For Failure
When setting expectations, it is important to make sure you are setting realistic ones. If your goal takes the average person five months to accomplish, do not plan on completing the task in two.
What will end up happening is you will take four months, and those will be some of the most stressful four months of your life.
And because it took you twice as long as you believed it should have, you may feel as though you failed. However, if you set the realistic expectation of five months, then you will feel like an overachiever completing it in four.
Your perception and how you frame the situation play a major role in how you feel about yourself.
You do not want to look at failure as a death sentence.
Instead, look at failure as you made the best decision with the information you had at the time. Now that you have more information, you can prove your strategy.
And that does not mean failure is not an option the second time around either. Your goal is to make sure you do not make the same mistakes. Look at failure as an opportunity to learn; and the more you learn, the more likely you are to succeed.
3. Fear of Inadequacy
Whenever the feelings of inadequacy start to sneak into your mind, you are probably doing something that is outside of your comfort zone.
First, let us take a moment and commend you for reaching further than most.
Now understand that most people do not leave their comfort zone because they are discouraged by their fear and self-doubt.
If you want to overcome the fear of inadequacy, you have to accept that you are going to make mistakes, but that those mistakes do not define you. Instead of assuming the reason you are not succeeding is because you are not good enough, allow yourself to believe you can thrive in the right situation.
Now you are only focused on creating the right situation. If you continue to assume you are the problem, then you are going to continue to feel anxiety (and possibly depression) and have a low self-esteem.
If you want to improve your self-confidence, we have an entire episode focused on helping you do just that –> Five Ways To Boost Your Self-Confidence
As Yams says, make some of your best moments your ability to say I do not know, but I will find the answer.
Do not allow yourself to be stressed by the unrealistic expectation of knowing everything. It can lead to emotional outbursts of anger and guilt, along with the ones we have already mentioned.
4. Fear of Uncertainty
We do not always know what is going is happen, and that is what makes things interesting. This is also what can make things stressful.
In one of my economic classes, the professor talked about how most people will choose certainty, even if it is offered in a less attractive package.
A game-show host offered you the choice between a bag of money and the opportunity to continue playing the game. In the game, they could earn more money. However, they also have the risk of losing everything. Throughout the game, as the odds of the person winning increases or decreases, the amount of money they are offered to continue changes as well.
Deal or no deal?
I use to watch, Deal or No Deal when I was a kid. The way the game worked is the contestant selected a briefcase at the beginning of the game. That case could have anything from $1 to $1,000,000. They would then have to open a set of briefcases each round. The more cases with the larger dollar amounts left unopened, the greater the prize the host offered at the end of each round.
The game-show was interesting when the $1M case was still viable, but the remaining large cases were gone. Since the odds of having $1M were not in the contestant’s favor, the host would offer something around $80K.
Then the decision to continue or take the offer came down to how the contestant felt about uncertainty.
On the one-hand, the contestant had a 1 in 8 chance of winning $1M. On the other-hand, the contestant had a 7-8 of winning less than $25,000.
For those who play the lottery, they would dream of having a 1 in 8 chance of winning a million-dollars.
But when you are playing the game and the pressure mounts, how many of you would be willing to continue?
Overcoming your fear of uncertainty
The key to overcoming your fear of uncertainty, you are going to have to relax. Only by staying relaxed can you think clearly and make the best decision.
There are studies that show humming your favorite song, as well as breathing techniques, meditation, and yoga can all help you remain calm in the face of uncertainty. Sometimes you just need to take your time and take a step back, so you can reevaluate the situation at hand.
Your goal is to avoid your body’s natural reaction to stress, which is to go Super Saiyan (fight or flight).
5. Fear of Change
The overarching fear of change is one of the most interesting aspects of growth. We all want to improve and we all want to find our purpose and reach our potential, yet we are uncomfortable with change. Our discomfort with change transcends whether we initiated the change or someone else did. It even transcends whether that change is something positive like getting married or moving into a new home. Or whether it is something negative change, such as a serious injury or a failing health condition.
As we worry we begin to transform our positive changes into negative ones. We start to wonder if we are going to like the new neighborhood, did I register my kids for their new school, and can I afford my new mortgage payment.
It is not the initial decision itself that you are stressed about as much as it is the next ten or fifteen events that will take place.
Stress is deeper than you think
You are not stressed about being married to your spouse. After all, you are madly in love with her. You are stressed about the fact that you will have to combine your debt. There is an air of concern concerning whether you can agree on how to raise your children.
You will need to determine how to handle holidays, which religion the children will be taught, and how much money is going to be saved from each check.
To conquer your fear of change, you have to accept that unexpected things are going to happen and it is not for you to second guess your decision.
All you can do is make the best decision going forward. If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do a little planning, you may be able to resolve some of the issues ahead of time.
Just make sure you are not spending all your time in the planning phase. No matter how much you plan for, you are not going to be able to account for everything.
Conquering fear and achieving your dreams are all a part of the process. You know you are achieving one when you are dealing with the other. It is okay to be afraid and it is acceptable be concerned about your chance of success. It is not okay to allow your fears to keep you stagnant in an undesired situation.