I Fear Change: How to Cope With the Unknown

I Fear Change: How to Cope With the Unknown

A fear of changes, also known as metathesiophobia, is a fear that leads people to stay away from changing their lives due to fear of being in the dark. It may be associated with anxiety about moving, which is also called tropophobia.

Why Do People Fear Change?

Human beings are predisposed to be scared of change for many reasons. But, the fear of change can be more severe when the change isn’t in the control of a person’s. Verywell approached psychologist clinical Carla Marie Manly, PhD to discuss the reasons the fear of change is so frightening.

If we decide to initiate an opportunity for change, like moving to a new place or changing jobs We are more confident in in control of the results. When the changes are caused through forces beyond our control, like an employer, a pandemic , or an incident, it makes us feel powerless.

In cases of metathesiophobia the lack of power causes resistance and the refusal to change from anxiety that goes with fear of the unknown.

Humans Are Conditioned To Fear Change

The fear of change is an evolutionary phenomenon and has roots that go back to prehistoric times. “From an atavistic (also known as old-fashioned] point of view our brains are wired to favor routine and stability,” Manly explains. “Our ancestral ancestors were averse to change as they were aware that changes often meant a lack of security.”

Our predecessors had to move to find food or water as well as shelter in order to live. In a place in which these vital sources were depleted of fear may result in dehydration, starvation or even death for the entire pack.

From a perspective of mental health the same is true in the present world. Manly says that mental health is best when we are able to establish a the structure and routine of our lives.

Manly says, “When life feels predictable and predictable, we feel less anxiety and stress because we are aware of what to anticipate. When things don’t seem to be like it’s going to be predictable and we’re uneasy about what’s coming up next we are stressed and nervous.” With certainty and understanding of what might happen should we choose to make changes, the fear is likely to be lessened.

How To Know If You Are Suffering From An Fear Of The Unknown

While being afraid by the unknowable is commonplace in the majority of people, having a fear is more intense and has symptoms that can appear physically or emotionally or even mentally, and cause disruption to your daily life.

What can you tell whether you are afraid of change? There are many distinct signs of fear of change that a person may experience in their daily life. The signs that are indicative of this include:

You are unhappy or stuck in your situation, but you are unable to commit to the possibility of making positive changes

  • You remain in a failing relationship even though you want to leave
  • It is not a good idea to look for a job that is ideal even if you’re unhappy with your current job
  • There is a lot of anxiety about what’s going to happen in the future
  • You are unable to accept changes in your life that are either within or out of your control
  • You’re not willing to break away from your routine, because you’re not sure what might happen if aren’t consistent with it.
  • You decline invitations to events or celebrations, your family or the homes of your friends.
  • Sometimes, you feel nauseated or experience indigestion whenever you think about changing
  • The heart rate increases whenever you think about changes
  • You are shaking or sweating when you think of making a alteration

Fear of change can be a result of fear of change. It could also be a fear of failing, success and loss, self-doubt or causing upset to other people.

If Your Fear Of Change Turns Into A Destructive

In the end there are two kinds of fear two types of fear: destructive and constructive fear. “Constructive fear is a warning sign of an actual threat and ensures our safety from danger. The destructive fear alarms us to an unexistent threat. There is no real threat, yet our minds believe there is” Manly explains Manly. The severity of someone’s anxiety about changing, it could be destructive.

If the fear of being in the unknown is not addressed the potential complications could include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Isolation
  • Avoidance
  • Stress
  • Disorders of substance use
  • Being in unhealthy surroundings
  • Remaining in unhealthy relationships
  • Suicidal ideation

How To Handle The Fear Of Change

If your fear of being in the unknown isn’t as severe There are strategies to manage your fear that you can take each day to conquer the fear:


Writing down your thoughts can allow you to know your anxieties and help you overcome them. Manly claims it is when you write freely and without judgement let our minds to relax and perhaps understand what may be holding us back.


Manly says that as we look towards ourselves to reflect and reflect, the more we begin to recognize our identity and what we want. When we schedule time to reflect on our lives each day Manly suggests that we are able to be more in tune with the things we trulywant and require in our lives and help us take a step back and accept changes a bit more easily.

Design A Vision Board

Make collages of magazine clippings, photographs and print them as artwork on the internet to make a your own board of ideas that you’d like to bring to life.

Manly suggests that the creation of vision boards allows our creative side the opportunity to imagine a better future. The process of thinking about the possibilities of what life could appear at the end of the tunnel of change could be a cathartic experience and help us bring these goals into reality.

Talk To Friends and Family

Talk about your worries with a trusted family member and family member. They might share the same fear and give advice for dealing with your personal experiences. If not, speaking up about your fears can ease stress, shame or anxiety, and help you feel less lonely.

Set Macro And Micro Goals

If you can identify the root of your fear of change is rooted Once you know where your fear of change originates, you can create achievable goals in order to take concrete steps towards positive changes.

According to Manly the fear of failure tends to ease when we adopt an attitude of optimism, do each step one by one and work towards them in a slow, deliberate and with great care.

Avoid Avoidance

The inability to make necessary changes due to fear could lead to an increase in stress levels and result in dangerous circumstances or situations. In many cases, fears of the unknown may create more anxiety than it’s worth.

Instead of focusing on the possibilities of what mighthappen as if it were in an negative manner (e.g. as a threat to the other party or looking at the possibility of something going badly), Manly suggests reframing changes as an opportunity to open the possibility of a new future to unfold instead. She has seen positive changes happen with her clients, where those who took the first step to take action later thought about why they hadn’t made changes earlier.


An intense fear of change could cause more severe symptoms that could affect your daily routine, which includes how you manage work, socializing and maintaining your relationships.

It is, however, possible to conquer this anxiety with proper treatment, like treatment as well as relaxation techniques. The use of medication can also be beneficial in situations where holistic approaches do not provide relief.

When Should You Seek Help?

When should someone seek help in order to lessen the fear of changing? If you’re constantly feeling unhappy, depressed, or stressed, Manly notes that it is crucial to seek to a professional for help. Manly notes that professionals who are trained can help by helping you identify self-limiting beliefs and helping you make positive lifestyle changes.

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