By: Marilyn L. Davis
I’m Afraid of Change Because I’m Comfortable
“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea—holding onto something that is good for you now, maybe the very reason why you don’t have something better.” ― C. JoyBell C.
For most of us, we’re afraid when we think about changing the patterns of our lives, whether it’s giving up drugs or alcohol, or changing the way we think, feel, and act. After all, we have done or been something for so long that those actions, behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are mechanical or habituated. These predictable actions are the norm, and when we leave our comfort zone, we get anxious.
But for many of us, we got to the point where we didn’t want to live the way we were anymore. Our most significant drawbacks to recovery were that we weren’t sure how to change our lives from addiction to recovery besides stopping our use.
Some of us wanted guarantees that our actions would produce better outcomes. Others weren't willing to do more than stop using substances, and their lives only marginally improved because they wouldn't change other aspects. Click To Tweet
Fear Keeps Us Stuck
Fears prevent many of us from making the simple change from addiction to recovery. I say it’s simple; I didn’t say it was easy. There is a difference. Any change will produce anxiety and a degree of discomfort, even for positive changes.
We stop using to have a better or different life. That’s usually our first reason for giving up substances, but it still doesn’t lessen the fears of changing other aspects of our lives. So what are some fears that prevent us from changing?
1. I’m Afraid of the Unknown
Most of us want to know and understand the risks and the outcome of a decision before acting upon that particular choice. It is merely part of being cautious, or is it something more significant? Many of us are looking for a guarantee that this action will produce better outcomes than another action.
However, in our addiction, we willingly ingested unknown substances in the hopes of changing our feelings, thoughts, or reality. Where did we find the resolve to try something different without a guarantee?
Most of us were willing because we did not like the current reality of our lives. Therefore, if we do not like our feelings, our jobs, our relationships, or our financial circumstances, we can apply the same willingness as we did in our use to make other changes.
2. I’m Afraid People Won’t Give Me Good Advice
Recovery has been around in one form or another for over seventy years, which means there’s a lot of knowledge about changing from active addiction to recovery.
A simple search on Bing or Google will get you multiple methods, philosophies, and ways of recovering. Use them.
Whether it’s faith-based, 12-Step, or secular, there are no wrong choices to help you get closer to your recovery goal. Each offers ways to move you forward through change, and each step forward is one step removed from your active addiction.
Does that mean that everyone is trustworthy? No. Remember: “Sober up a horse thief, and you’ll still get a horse thief.”
Some people in any recovery support meeting aren’t dependable, honest, or reliable. They gave up the substances but didn’t make significant changes in who they are.
However, it’s not always about trusting the person but the process.
3. I’m Afraid I’ll Never Feel Confident in my New Choices
It’s hard to contemplate making sound choices when so many of our choices and decisions in our active addiction have produced nothing but adverse outcomes.
We begin to think that we are incapable of making decisions based on sound judgment. That is to be expected, and it is good to be cautious but still move forward.
Therefore, it might be necessary to ask others or research how others have recovered. Again, that simple search.
However, beyond that simple search is the reassurance that once the chemicals are no longer driving the decisions, many of us become more capable of making better choices.
One of the smartest choices we can make is to ask successful people how they did something and then mimic their actions, whether it’s about recovery or not. Most successful people will tell you that they make goals and carry them out with sub-goals.
4. I’m Afraid of Doing This Alone
We don’t have to do this alone; we draw on the experiences of others in our recovery to help guide our personal changes.
Does that mean that they make the changes for us? Certainly not; however, we get encouragement and support from others who have made changes in their lives and are willing to share the process with us.
These directions and suggestions can help us find the resolve within us to change our lives.
5. I’m Afraid of Giving Up the Illusion of Control
Too often, people want to control their recovery, yet if we are realistic, our choices in our addiction have netted us, our families, employers, and society less than favorable outcomes.
Therefore, we give up the illusion of having control. We didn’t have it in our addiction. In our recovery, we give up trying to control the results or outcomes of our decisions.
But, there are many areas of our lives where we do have control.
For instance, I can control which meetings or therapies I take part in; I cannot control:
- Who will attend the meeting
- What other people say
- Which topics will prompt feelings in me
- What I’ll hear that will help me
I can control what I do with any information or suggestions, and that gives me some control.
6. I’m Afraid I Won’t Have Options
One of the fundamental or essential underlying truths about recovery is that each day, I can be positive or negative about life and recovery lessons.
I also have the choice to alter my course if I see I’m not heading in the right direction. I know that sounds pat and cliché, but it’s true.
Sometimes, we don’t change courses because our egos won’t let us look foolish for an unwise plan. However, that’s just another fear because most of us don’t want to admit that we’ve made a mistake.
Acknowledging that we are afraid or fearful is not a sign of weakness or negative; it is merely honest about our feelings.
Feeling the Fear and Doing It Anyway
People sometimes assume that I am this fearless human because I have been in recovery for 32 years. That is not true. When I entered treatment, I had fears about everything, but I had two choices – stay the same or change.
Each of those choices had a fear. So there was no avoiding the fear; however, the fear of staying the same was greater than changing, so I changed.
Weigh your concerns today and decide which has the most significant fear – staying the same or changing.
The choice might encourage you to change as it did for me.
Writing and recovery heal the heart.
What fears did you have to overcome? Were you frightened about a particular aspect of recovery? How did you resolve these fears?
There’s somebody else out there who is experiencing those fears right now and could use your words of wisdom, so consider a guest post today.
Marilyn L. Davis is the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook.