A degree of uncertainty in life is inevitable. The future and what it may be bring may cause both excitement and anxiety; however, for most of us, major changes in life instill in us a sense of fear. It is very common to feel concerned about how such changes will affect you. You may wonder whether things will go as planned and whether the risk you’ll take will help you to move closer towards living the life you really want. We fear the unknown because we can’t anticipate the consequences of the situations that life presents us with.
Change is a paradox because we both admire and fear it at the same time. When it comes to dealing with an unexpected change, research indicates that there are three emotions that we experience: cynicism, fear, and acceptance. The first two are strongly negative, and the third is vaguely positive. No strong positive feelings seem to be experienced. Research also demonstrated that we prefer to know for certain that something will go wrong rather than not knowing what the outcome of a situation will be.
There are different fears that are associated with change. Fear of failure, fear of suffering, and also, a fear of being truly happy.
How can one be afraid of happiness? We all seem to seek happiness but we might sometimes sabotage our own happiness without even knowing. We might be afraid that if we need to make a change in order to be happy, that change might mean that we have to let someone down or it might mean that we will hurt them even if it isn’t our intention. We are sometimes also afraid of choosing what we think might make us happy because it is not what others want for us. Going for what makes us happy might then instill a sense of guilt, which may sometimes lead us to revert back to that which is familiar or which is expected of us. This may mean that we choose to make others happy and we let ourselves believe that if those around us are happy, we are automatically also happy, which in actual fact might not be true at all.
In the second part of the blog I shall continue exploring different types of fears that contribute towards an apprehension about the future.
Claire Borg is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.