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Why do we fear change or transition?

Posted Sept. 7, 2010 by Eve Bernshaw in Open

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commented on Sept. 7, 2013
by dustproduction

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Have you felt powerless around the need to make certain decisions? Has the fear of change or transition created concern, or an adverse effect on your life? If so, you are not alone. Every day millions of people experience various forms of anxiety or fear, while attempting to make decisions. Most of them, just like you, may not know that effective and functional decision-making is a learned behavioral skill.

If you find yourself identifying with these feelings, or simply wish to sharpen your decision-making skills, it may be time to ask yourself this simple question:

How and why do I react to change in the way I do?

As you attempt to comprehend your unique relationship with change, you will automatically start to develop a powerful decision making skill. The skill is functional choice, where you begin to instinctualy choose decisions that create function and growth, subsequently creating a freedom from the fear of change.

There are many ways to measure the depth of our emotional maturity. One way is in examining how we solve problems and make decisions. Another way is the manner in which we deal with transitional experiences, when and how they are dealt to us. Our comprehension, responsiveness and overall coping ability continue to grow and change at every stage of life. We accumulate knowledge and insight, by absorbing the teachings and beliefs we inherit from others. As we are maturing, we supplement that base of knowledge with our own, first hand experience of success and failure, with all the accompanying feelings of joy and pain that arrive with each reward or consequence.

For most people, decision-making equates to knowing what to do. As long as we are operating within our scope of experience and know how, all is well. We start to feel inadequate when our knowing what to do, has been compromised or skewed, by our limited experience. At this point, our decision is stymied. We revert to whatever means of default decision-making (survival), is available to us. The results usually indicate that an experience of inadequacy triggers fearful or negative beliefs, which control and produce a range of insecure reactions. Not a surprising result, considering how few of us have had training in deliberation, or even the basic, parental guidance in the fine art of decision making.

Insecure reactions range from uncertainty and doubt, to blinding fear. Fears, or self-limiting beliefs, either are born of an inherited source or are self-created. In either case, all beliefs are simply instructions, ideologies and convictions. Beliefs are taught to us, or created by us, for one very important reason. Beliefs keep us safe.

Originally, fear protected us. Our primal instinct of fight or flight lives on today in our inheritance of beliefs from generations' past. The offspring if those ancient beliefs still inhabit corners of our psyche, creating realities that still exist in current day behaviors.

Upon close examination, we find many inherited beliefs, no longer serving us in any positive way, yet they remain. Until the source and purpose of those beliefs are acknowledged, lives are held in bondage, clinging to erroneous fears that painfully control decisions, without reason or even hope of an intended purpose.

Emotions surrounding change can range from anticipation to debilitating paralysis. Clients often described a transition block as feeling hesitant and uncertain. They feel stuck or unable to move. Like an obstacle in our path, this type of emotional barrier suspends decision making, by blocking our ability to focus. Even the anticipation of a block can trigger anxiety. Just imagining judgmental criticism can trigger us, when our confidence and self-esteem are low. That form of anxiety usually shows up, not coincidentally, as we are being summoned to perform or produce in an unfamiliar role.

Our ability to understand the core issue (beliefs) behind our fear of change is the key. The optimum goal of decision-making is to operate out of functional intent, rather than being driven by an imagined (fear) belief of what may happen. We create an outcome by our ability to continually choose functional decisions that create our intention.

Understanding this paradigm creates a new perspective. Freedom from indecision and fear of change is available for those who dare to question the source and purpose behind their beliefs. As we understand the role our beliefs play in every decision we make, we realize we have the power to choose between beliefs that create function and fulfillment, or beliefs that control our life, based on fear.

Example of a successful transitional experience

Imagine the process you currently use in making decisions. Break it down step by step. Compare it to the following example of a successful transitional experience.

Notice that this process is circular, dynamic and exponential in design. Remember: A successful transitional experience occurs when a functional decision is made from intent.

Having an ability to focus on an intended result or goal, concurrent with initiating necessary decisions that change and adjust, whilst progressing forward in a measured, proactive manner. Realizing that the natural product or result from this process is a dynamic, collective knowledge and confidence acquired from all previous transitional experiences. Knowing we have allowed all previous, accumulative experiences, perceived to be either successful or failed, to educate and enlighten our ability to expand our ever changing, dynamic understanding. Knowing that as we continue to focus on the re-created, intended result, we continually see it changing and becoming a new and modified intended result. Through our choice of decisions, we dynamically have been creating what we intended every moment, and indeed have succeeded.

If you have recently questioned the validity of your decision-making process, ask yourself who was manning your emotional helm at the time? Have your decisions been intent driven, functional and proactive, or have you turned on your emotional autopilot, defaulting responsibility to a habitual or programmed process? Have you surrendered to assumed conclusions, based on old, inherited or self-created fears?

Take a moment and consider the following examples of fear based decisions, and the significant life changes that could have occurred, had decisions been based on intention and functional choice, rather than fear of consequence.

The career change dreamed of for years, and dismissed.
The creative venture painfully put on hold for fear of an unknown future.

The unacknowledged reasons behind the dissolution of any relationship.

The overwhelming power of an unknown future, holding the freedom of recovery in irons.

The postponement of any action once thought significant. But because of little attention and unclear intent, its memory finally died, all but forgotten.

Being brought up observing a traditional family behavior of unending grief or sadness as a child, you never questioned, you just assumed, that you too were predestined to a life of sadness.

Everyone has felt the fear of change and transition or imagined failure in our lives. However, when the fear of change controls or dominates our life, it may be time to consider a new way of looking at our decision making process. It may time to accept a new level of responsibility in this creative & dynamic experience called life. By learning to create functional decisions from choice, rather than consequence, we can automatically add more options for unlimited growth and freedom, in all areas of our life.

  • 10 Comments  
  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Sep 07, 2013

    Some here would ignore that psychologists sell therapy instead of a pill.
    For the record, I am not a huge supporter Big Pharma or psychiatry, and most psychology lacks an understanding of the science.

    @EKB: The question of how this relates to IONS remains an open one.

  • Billgreenjeans Sep 07, 2013

    @ EKB
    We should not be concerned with "fear decision making". We have a couple of choices to alleviate the problem.

    First we can wait for a new drug to change our chemistry of the brain and we will make only "approved decisions" .

    Or we could ask our teenage children about our decisions to be made because they seem to know everything. At least they think they do.

    When a person is convinced that consciousness is confined to the brain only and all that's necessary is to change the chemistry and electrical functions of the brain to make good decisions it is difficult to have them look at anything else.
    While I will agree that basic programming( for lack of a better word) of the subconscious can cause fearful decision making. Learning ways to over come this programming will help to avoid fear and will aid in making courageous decisions.

    Thanks for bring this important subject to the discussion.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Sep 07, 2013

    "After the discovery that the frontal lobe of the cortex is not fully developed in the adolescent brain, scientists began speculating cause and effect. Could the lack of maturity of the cortex be the reason for poor decisions and unhealthy risk taking during the teen years?

    But after looking at teen behavior, scientists pointed out that teens are often making poorer decisions than children half a teen’s age. Scientists then began to look to the limbic system of the brain for clues about the risk taking, emotionally sensitive adolescent brain."

    In seniors there is a different part of the brain that comes into play. "Researchers at the University of Iowa believe it all has to do with deteriorating brain function, a product of advancing years.
    They say they’ve pinpointed the precise location in the human brain, called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), that controls belief and doubt, and that is what explains why some of us are more gullible than others."

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Sep 07, 2013

    I will disagree with the premise that decision making is a learned behavior. Daniel Kahneman suggests that decisions register in the subconscious and are handed up to consciousness. So we are determined to make certain decisions based on memory, and unless we are guided to change our experiences in the moment we pretty much repeat past decisions since we do not view them as broken.

  • Eve Bernshaw Sep 06, 2013

    To simply answer your questions on our fear of change...in other words, or fear of decision-making...First, Decision-making is a learned behavioral skill. Yes, think about that for a moment. ..and indeed it is a noetic life exercise we practice moment by moment.

    "Our ability to understand the core issue (beliefs) behind our fear of change is the key. The optimum goal of decision-making is to operate out of functional intent, rather than being driven by an imagined (fear) belief of what may happen. We create an outcome by our ability to continually choose functional decisions that create our intention." EKB

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Sep 05, 2013

    Are you provided an answer to the question alone? How does this apply to the statement by Eva Bernshaw?

  • Billgreenjeans Sep 05, 2013

    "Allow me to ask, how does any of this relate to the Noetic Sciences?"

    I, as you well imagined, couldn't pass the opportunity to give my two cents.

    Much of what is the apparent aim and goal of Noretic Science is to explore phenomenon ignored by main stream science and its billions of funds for research. There are apparent and glaring questions of life that are being ignored because of "fear". Fear of finding out things are not as some have bet their reputation on and fear of losing tenure and grants as others have in the past for exploring areas of science that scientist themselfs personally believe needs to be explored , however pequniary interest and fear of ridicule of "the establishment of science" keep them in the closet.

    Making decisions particularly important decisions based on fear to me is a crime. Fear kept us in the dark in the past and it will continue to do the same now if we fail to have courage to shun fear and forge ahead.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Sep 04, 2013

    The question itself, "Why do we fear change or transition? implies that we do fear change. The question might instead ask "How do you react to change and transition?" But the phrasing is intentional, a subconscious appeal to those that do fear change in their lives, and are perhaps, living a fear based life.

    Allow me to ask, how does any of this relate to the Noetic Sciences?

  • Eve Bernshaw Sep 04, 2013


    For some reason your wonderful comment was not viewed until TODAY, nevertheless, I sincerely thank you for your positive insightful commentary and wish to say i agree with you wholeheartedly on your perspective.

    Www.transitionscounseling.com

    Best positive thoughts for your future,

    Eve Bernshaw

  • frequencytuner Sep 15, 2010

    There are always and only 2x2 options for every worldly circumstance and situation. You can be order or chaos and love or fear. Fear and order generally dictate most ordinary people's daily experiences. People fear falling into chaos and strive to create structured, predictable existences. This is usually based on and enforced by habitual mental processes that create an avatar with a personal sense of identity and experience.

    The illusory need to control external circumstances that prevails with order is usually overwhelmed by fear of losing the control one thinks he/she already has. Thus fear and order together create a trap that only love and chaos can erradicate: Love being the willingness and openness to embrace and chaos being the disorder perceived by the possibilities Love allows.

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