If there’s anything we should all know by now, it’s that the only thing that’s constant in life is change. Ironically, it’s also something many of us are afraid of.
Change can be daunting, but have you ever wondered why it seems to be a more significant challenge for some people than for others? What makes certain people more resistant to change?
In this article, I’ll discuss ten rigid traits that people who fear change often share. You might just find a few things that resonate with you, and maybe they could shine a light on what you’ll need to overcome to get more comfortable with change.
The first trait that many change-fearing individuals share is perfectionism. The constant need to have everything just right can hinder our ability to embrace change.
We get so caught up in the pursuit of an ideal that we become unwilling to try new things or take risks. We become scared that the outcome might not meet our impossibly high standards.
Take this workplace study featured in Insider, for instance. It showed how “employees are so focused on following policies that they don’t want to take risks.” Unfortunately, that also means their capacity for creativity is diminished.
The bottom line: they aren’t as inclined to think innovatively and deal with change as it happens.
2) Fear of failure
Another common trait among those who resist change is the fear of failure, which is connected to the point above.
“What if I don’t succeed?” “What if I end up looking foolish?”
I’ve asked myself these questions more times than I can count. This fear often stems from a deep-rooted belief that we need to be successful in everything we do.
To put it simply, it’s all about reframing our view of failure. When we see it as an essential part of growth and learning, that makes us more open to the idea of failing.
We bounce back faster, and as a result, this weakens our resistance to change. We begin to see that, hey, I survived that, it isn’t so scary, after all!
3) Fear of judgment
It’s not just fear of failure that can stop people from accepting change. Fear of judgment can also be at the root of it.
It makes us hesitant to venture outside our comfort zone because we worry about how others might perceive us.
“What will people think?” “Will they judge me if I try something new or different?” These concerns have gotten people stuck in unhappy marriages, dead-end jobs, and outdated hairstyles.
But here’s the thing – we can’t control what others think, so why let it dictate our actions?
4) Low self-esteem
Did you know that low self-esteem can also contribute to a resistant attitude towards change? It’s true! Those fears above actually have a dose of low self-esteem thrown in there.
When we lack self-confidence, we may doubt our ability to handle new situations or adapt to change.
I’ve certainly been there, questioning whether I’m “good enough” or “capable enough” to tackle something new.
This self-doubt held me back for a long time because I tended to just stick to the familiar, to the tried-and-tested, rather than take a leap of faith.
Writing an article about why people are resistant to change actually comes at just the right time for me.
You know why?
Because I’m dealing with somebody in my family who’s resisting a major life change that has to happen. All because they’re so stubborn!
It’s no secret that stubbornness can be a major roadblock when it comes to change. The inflexibility can make it incredibly difficult to accept new ideas or perspectives.
I totally understand, though – sometimes it’s a matter of personality, and people can’t help being stubborn.
Are you in a similar situation? I would recommend practicing active listening and empathy. We need to listen to their opinions, but also nudge them to see alternative viewpoints.
It’s no walk in the park, believe me, but the key is balance. Pushing too hard can make them dig in their heels even more, so it’s a delicate process that takes a lot of patience and framing change positively.
6) Overdependence on routine
One reason why people can be so stubborn about change is because they are overdependent on routine.
Again, I totally get this. I myself find solace in the predictability of routine. Routines provide a sense of structure and stability, after all.
But for some, they become a safety net that shields us from the unknown. And if they go overboard and stick too much to their routines, they can be really resistant to anything that disrupts that.
If you’re a slave to routine, challenge yourself to break free every now and then. Here are some ways to get started:
- Incorporate a new activity (like meditation or exercise) into your morning routine
- Rearrange your living space
- Explore new hobbies
- Take a different route on your daily commute
- Try new recipes or restaurants
- Do a random act of kindness
7) Inability to let go
Change often requires us to let go of the familiar and embrace the new. But for some, this can be incredibly challenging.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen how this trait can really get in the way of progress and personal growth.
Let me tell you a quick story related to this. One of my friends was offered a fabulous job, but it required her to move to a different state. Unfortunately, she loved her house too much – she’d grown up in it, and it held too many memories for her. She couldn’t let go.
In the end, she turned down the exciting offer. I thought it was such a shame because, while I understand the importance of the house to her, it ended up chaining her down and keeping her from growing.
8) Need for control
Ah, control. I feel this so much because I used to have huge control issues.
I always wanted to make sure everything went according to plan. So, if there’s an element of uncertainty and unpredictability?
I’d say no right away.
In the end, I saw how it was stopping me from exploring new opportunities. I felt like I was stagnating – I had to face the fact that I’d need to learn how to be okay with relinquishing control.
If this is an issue you struggle with as well, I’m here to say, take baby steps.
Practice surrendering control in small ways, like delegating tasks or letting others decide. Bit by bit, you’ll grow more comfortable with not being in charge of everything.
In fact, today, I enjoy letting others make decisions – I’ve realized it can be a liberating feeling to sit back and just enjoy the ride!
You might think that procrastination is just a harmless habit we all have. After all, we’re not hurting anyone when we put off doing something, right?
We’re actually hurting ourselves when we procrastinate too often.
Think about it – when you put off acting on something and convince yourself you’ll do it later, you’re maintaining the status quo, aren’t you?
Things are staying the way they are, not progressing, not moving along.
In all that time you’re wasting, opportunities might be passing by. And there you are, still sitting idly and resisting change.
Because the truth is, procrastination is just another word for resistance.
10) Catastrophic thinking
Are you the type who immediately thinks of the worst that can happen when faced with a decision?
That’s called catastrophic thinking – that tendency to imagine the worst-case scenario.
I used to be a teacher, and one of my deepest frustrations was the parents who engaged in this type of thinking.
They would become overly anxious about their child’s health and safety, imagining all sorts of things that could happen – accidents, diseases, or abductions – even when there was zero chance of those things happening.
Their kids didn’t get to explore as much as the others. They weren’t allowed to play with animals, muck about in mud play, or go on field trips with the rest of the class.
I’m not saying that we should never think of potential problems; we should because that’s just healthy self-preservation.
But we must also be careful not to go overboard and turn that thought pattern into something chronic or pervasive. That’s a surefire recipe for anxiety, stress, and stagnation!
Change may never be entirely comfortable, but it’s always wise to see it as a way to grow and learn.
Hopefully, this list has helped you do a self-check. Do you see any of these traits in yourself? Then, good – the real work can now begin!
When you can pinpoint what’s holding you back, it’s easier to address it. And remember, it doesn’t happen overnight, so be kind and patient with yourself. Keep chipping away at those barriers that stop you from embracing change, and you’ll get there!