The f word, one of the major blocks to change and also one of the major motivators. A contested relationship. In this blog I am looking at fear as a blocking agent in change. Fear is a very strong emotion that can induce physical symptoms. Fear induces some very base reactions, the most talked about is flight or fight.
In relationship to change fear operates at a number of levels, from rational to irrational. How do these operate, what are people afraid of? Let’s look at personal relationships (something I know a little about). Many people stay in abusive relationships or relationships that are really unhealthy because of fear. They are afraid of the consequences of leaving such a relationship. Some of the fears particularly for people in violent relationships are very real. “ if I live him he will hunt me down and may hurt me”. This is a genuine fear for some people that is well founded. Another fear that is often said is better the devil you know rather than going into something or some other relationship with an unknown quantity. This fear of the unknown is quite common and translates across a number of different situations, change in jobs, homes, personal habits, many areas.
The first example of fear is easier to understand, it is a conditioned response. When I do x then y happens. So if I don’t do x then I will be safe. We all know people that you have to tiptoe around, sleeping giants as it were. We are careful not to awake them because we may incur their wrath. This kind of fear can reduce intelligent, articulate people to gibbering wrecks. We do not need to be afraid of physical violence per se. Some people use emotional withdrawal, verbal violence, manipulation of children and custody. All of these things are done to induce fear and to gain the compliance of the person that these actions are directed against. So the fear of changing in that situation is about learned experience.
I am not going to elaborate on this subject right now suffice to say if you are in this kind of a situation there is hope. The answers to conquering fear in my belief are pretty universal , and I will cover these later. In my next blog I will take a quick look and how fear operates in other areas of change such as personal growth and development.