Quality Magazine

Jim's Gems: Fear is a Change Inhibitor

June 24, 2014

Last week we focused on Overcoming Adversity, and this week’s blog topic is strongly related.

Our emotions play a significant role in dealing with adversity. Many psychologists suggest there is a limited set of basic or innate emotions which include dread, horror, panic, anger, anxiety, joy, sadness and fear. Let’s focus this blog on fear and the role it plays.

Nothing blocks change quite the way fear does. And when its power is greater than our power to push through it to move forward, it can be devastating. For evidence, all we have to do is read or listen to the news of the day.

I recently read "Getting Unstuck," a book written a few years ago by Dr. Sidney Simon, Professor Emeritus at University of Massachusetts. Dr. Simon, a psychologist, discusses 10 ways that fear blocks change, and in his book, he presents a system to help the average person change.

Fear persuades us to do less than we are capable of doing. It triggers internal defense systems that can trick us into thinking we have good reasons not to change. Fear, particularly fear of making mistakes, causes indecisiveness and stops us from knowing what we really want. It can warp our perception of our life and what we can do to make it better.

Fear keeps us from asking for help when we need it, and also from benefiting from the emotional support that others are willing to offer. To calm our fears, we often develop unhealthy habits and behavior patterns. Usually, fear is responsible for us giving up just short of our goals and ultimate success. Lastly, fear keeps us from taking the risks necessary for personal and professional growth.

Fear can control our life if we let it. But if we can relax, mentally and physically, we can push through it. We need to develop the habit of taking well-chosen risks - small ones at first, then larger ones.

As discussed in this column many times, positive visualizations can be of great help too. If we get into the habit of clearly seeing ourselves achieve success, then we can overcome the paralyzing effects of fear and move forward with confidence.

What steps are you prepared to take, even if they are small ones, that will prevent fear from being an inhibitor to positive change? Write the steps down and start taking action.