Penny, one of the main characters in the widely loved and appreciated Netflix show, ‘The Big Bang Theory’, once said, “The only thing that actually remains the same, is that things are always changing.”
The fear of change, or metathesiophobia, is a phobia that causes people to avoid changing their circumstances due to being immensely afraid of the unknown. A recent study claims that while 38% of people like to leave their comfort zone, the other 62% of people either don’t like to leave their comfort zone or do so only occasionally.
As humans, while some of us are excited by change, there are others who dread the outcomes that change brings. There exists the possibility of facing the unknown and as humans, we have a natural tendency to hold on to our pasts, to stick with what we already know. This is the sole reason why the concept of ‘Comfort zone’ exists.
With the recent change in the lifestyle of the current generation, sticking to past conformity is deemed “boring” or tedious. Yet, those who fear change, all types of change—big, small, sudden, expected, positive, or negative—, require some mental adjustment. The truth is, all of us find some sense of comfort and security in routine, even if we simultaneously think it’s boring. For some, this fear will be closely linked to their fear of the unknown, or maybe a deeper existential crisis that surfaces in the face of a big change. A constant routine, and a punctual lifestyle, is not just a choice for this group of people, but a matter of preserving their mental health.
People who find themselves overpowered by this intense fear more often than not cope by avoiding new situations. They tend to lack interest in exploring new things and may be reluctant to achieve goals or improve their situation. They may even find themselves stuck in toxic relationships or jobs they don’t like, resulting in stress, anxiety, pain, depression, and a lack of energy.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once presented his ideology that “Change is the only constant of life”. While every one of us is innately wired to fear this concept of change, the degree to which we fear it varies. The fact remains, that though metathesiophobia is yet to be a widely recognized and acknowledged phobia, it remains prevalent. Change is something, all of us, as humans have to face at different periods of our life, and to face it with an open heart is the only way to grow to our full potential.