Change can feel so overwhelming at times, can’t it? I have certainly felt daunted at times during this summer’s process of revamping my website. As is often the way, I’m now asking myself what on earth I was so worried about.
But I was genuinely worried – what if the choices I was making weren’t the ‘right’ ones? How would it all be? What if I didn’t like it when I’d done it? What if other people didn’t like the changes?
I’ve seen that people who have wrestled with sadness or anxiety for a long time can have similar misgivings. These difficult feelings have become a very familiar, albeit extremely uncomfortable, part of life. The unknown quantity of life without them can seem even more daunting than the ‘devil we know’.
Then again, the feelings may have become so much a part of our identity that we fear we won’t recognise ourselves without them. Or perhaps those around us will resist the changes we are beginning to make – perhaps they won’t like the new version of us. These can all seem like valid reasons to stick with what we know, in spite of the discomforts.
I can really relate to this – can you?
In my experience, this resistance is almost the most uncomfortable part of the whole process, prolonging the pain of deep sadness or recurrent panic. A severe panic attack can feel as if we are about to die. Sadness can feel as if it will suck us down like a whirlpool and never spit us out again. But, in truth, the more we fight against our feelings, the more they will fight back – until we allow them expression.
Despite the labels we give them as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, there are no unacceptable feelings – although some are definitely more comfortable than others! All of our feelings are valid and all deserve to be heard. They have important information for us – about how well our world or our beliefs are serving us, for starters. Discomfort is a message that something needs to be examined and, perhaps, changed.
So – what to do?
My advice would be to find someone you trust that you can talk to. Whether it’s with a friend or family member, or a professional of some description, give those feelings some light and air and see how they look after that… Get curious about what message they’re trying to give you – they’re on your side, you know, and waiting to be heard.
So, how did I persuade myself to let go of the known and step into the new?
Firstly, with compassionate self-talk, “This is really uncomfortable! But you’re OK. And it’s fine, you know, you’ve thought it all through – this is just an anxious moment.” I knew that I’d had expert support during the planning and refining process and that I’d done the work I needed to do. Nevertheless, there it was – the fear of being seen to make a mistake. That insight led to some excavation of where this particular belief had its roots, before some gentle weeding and replanting work. But, and this is really important, at no time did I tell myself I was stupid to feel this way or beat myself up because that would just have added to my load. As the saying goes, “If you’re in a hole, stop digging…” And I had great tools to help me explore and replant.
“Stress is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
If you think I may be able to help you find your relaxed self, there’s more about me and my work at my new online ‘home’ here. Or get in touch to arrange a call to see if we’re a fit. I’ll be happy to help you with some gentle inner gardening!