Have we met? I’m sure we have. You seem very familiar to me. Oh I remember, we’ve met several times actually. In fact, every time I face uncertainty, change, or transition, there you are. Although we have seen each other often, it’s always been from a distance. And yet, we are very connected. I must admit, I don’t really like you that much and avoid confronting you at all costs, yet you are persistent and keep showing up. Maybe it’s time we got to know each other better.
Does this sound familiar to you? How many of you know what your fears are? This is a question I pose when hosting my Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway workshops. It’s always interesting to me to see how many people really know what their fears are. Most of us don’t. Why? Because really, who wants to be fearful. It’s like the plaque. We do anything to try and avoid our fears. Even disguise them or lie and say we don’t have any.
But the truth of the matter is, we all have fear. However, it’s not really the thing itself that causes us to be afraid. It’s our thoughts. So, unless we are living a stress-free life or not paying attention to our thoughts and feelings, we probably aren’t aware of what some of our fears are. Nevertheless, when a change, transition or loss occurs, these thoughts become loud and clear.
And, it doesn’t seem to matter if these changes are initiated by us or if they happen to us. According to the American Institute on Stress, some of the top stressors include:
- Death of a loved one
- Career Transition
According to an article I read through the Chopra Centre, “these situations bring up our most fearful thoughts. Fears about being deserving enough, accomplishing enough, fitting in or standing out, being alone, or asking for help. These are all the topics that are sure to come along with any large change, transition, or period of deep letting go.”
I’ve included the rest of the article as it lists 9 ways to let go of fear and navigate change and transition.
- Rest and Breathe
This technique sounds simple and, lucky for you, it is. During times of loss, transition, and great change, you must learn to slow down. Things that seemed easy at one point will start to take more effort and focus—and that is OK.
Ask the people around you to take some of the load from your daily tasks and help you adjust your schedule to get more rest. If you are having a hard time, people will probably tell you things like “This too shall pass” or “You can only connect the dots by looking back.” As much as you may think they don’t understand, they are right. Take time to breathe and honor yourself. The next thing will be waiting for you; you don’t need to run after it.
- Make Uncertainty Your Friend
During transition, it is absolutely vital to surrender control and lean into uncertainty. That way, the more uncertain things seem to be, the more secure you can feel. This is often counterintuitive for people, but every great endeavor or creation has been sourced through uncertainty. When you embrace uncertainty, you embrace possibility, unravel past conditioning, and let go of events and circumstances that are no longer serving you. This is your pathway to freedom.
- Acknowledge That Every End is Also a Beginning
If you are stuck in loss, in the fear of letting go, or in the overwhelming feeling of unwanted change, remind yourself that you may be at the end of something, but that you are also at the beginning. Something fresh and new is available and coming your way; find the gift in a new beginning presenting itself. Learn to embrace the cycle of creation (beginning) and destruction (ending) for it is the essence of life.
- Be Present
Set an intention to become aware of your thoughts. Are they stuck brooding about something past or obsessively thinking about the future? Bring them back into this moment by fully immersing your senses into the task at hand. Whatever life is presenting you, seek to become absorbed in it, whether it’s:
- Doing laundry
- Going through paperwork
- Talking to a friend
- Clear Out Your Elevator
This is a concept taught by life and career coach Martha Beck. She teaches that when you feel stuck in life, it feels like trying to fit into a packed elevator; it just doesn’t work. When you’re in a time of major loss or change, your elevator is crowded with thoughts and beliefs that no longer serve you.
Often during loss, change, or transition, primal fears about safety and survival are brought to the surface and can keep you from moving forward. It is not possible to force yourself into believing you are safe if you don’t actually believe it. But what you can do is get rid of your crowded limiting beliefs. If you can’t do it on your own, hire a coach to help you find and dissolve beliefs that are not serving you, so you can step onto the elevator and move on with your life.
- Focus on Your Dreams
Stop feeding fears about what you don’t want and focus on what you do want. Use techniques to keep you focused on what you want to create next like:
- Vision boarding
- Be Kind to Yourself
Resist the urge to beat yourself up or make yourself feel less than. When you experience loss or transition, you tend to dredge up every mistake you have ever made in the past or fear your abilities to weather the storm. You start to become your own worst enemy, which creates a downward spiral. Recognize that none of this negative self-talk has any truth. Go back and practice #4 to stay in the present.
- Embrace Your Emotions
When you endure a loss, there will be an urge to stay strong and push through, perhaps for others or sometimes simply for your own sake. At times, this urge will serve you well, but recognize that you must also take time to be with the emotions that are coming up. Emotions exist to be felt.
When you allow this time for yourself and allow feelings to arise, they have the space to be processed and moved through the body instead of getting locked in your cellular memory only to create more pain later on. Embrace your emotional process and once you feel the inevitable sense of relief, which comes from processed emotions, share your experience with someone you love.
- Check In With Your Sense of Freedom
If you are going through a period of self-driven heart transition, it can be difficult to make decisions. You may fear if you are making the “right” or “wrong” decision and lack complete confidence in your ability to navigate this transition. This keeps you from letting go or from making changes that must be made.
Fear comes along with any heart-driven change. However, the best test for whether or not to move forward on a decision is to check in with your sense of freedom. If moving forward with the decision or situation feels heavy, like someone has put chains on you, it generally is best not to move forward. If you are scared or nervous, but underneath that decision makes you feel like someone has taken the chains off of you, you can be sure it is the right decision.
It is said that the only thing unchanging is change itself. Everyone goes through times of transition and change, and you will face your own unique challenges on that journey. You are never alone. Let this list serve as a resource on your path. And don’t forget, if you need additional support, reach out to trusted people around you. And always continue to follow your heart with grace and ease.