Fear tends to make us feel helpless, and out of control. Often the fear of change is attached to a core belief we absorbed about the world when we were small and truly helpless. We were dependent on significant others, who may not have been there for us, for one reason or another. As a result our needs for protection, safety and validation were not filled and at that time there was nothing we could do about it. From such experiences we absorb beliefs such as nobody is there for us, the world is not safe, we are helpless, and there is nothing we can do about it.
... The way to build self confidence is to
start doing things you’re not sure
you can do….Like baking your
own bread. Like painting a picture
…Do it. Seize the day and get started
and stay with it, and things will
get easier and easier from here.
P Williams, Das Energi
Now grant you all that we absorb goes undercover into our unconscious, as very intense strong beliefs, feelings, and moods. The unconscious receives information as a result of our senses, before we become verbal and continues to influence our behaviors, emotions and moods for good and bad throughout our life. Until that is, we decide to find out what we are holding in our shadows that may be causing us problems in the present.
When fear takes over in such a way, leaving you feeling stuck or frozen, there are steps to take to break through such blocks. If the resistance is too much for us to move ahead at this moment, it is time to step back, stop and review. The intensity of our fear of change is the first clue. Complicating the picture by being harsh with yourself over your inability to change right now, is not the wisest choice.
It my own life, when there is a need to make major changes, the approach is that of an inch worm. Many times I needed to change but because of fear could not take the leap all at once. It is not easy, facing fears, limitations, and being somewhat stuck in procrastination, but there comes a time when things have to be faced squarely. The necessary steps have to be taken to move myself out of such places.
When it hurts more to stay stuck than to face fears of change, a plan has to be set up that does not frighten me into closing up entirely. Knowing that it has to be done and knowing I have survived many hard changes before does not make it easier. I may wish to be courageous and more deliberate, however my signature behavior is more “turtle” like. It is important to face limitations, and accept that there are times when I am unable to act fast, due to history and subsequent insecurities.
Fear of change kept me at my signature turtles pace during the transition from Mental Health to private practice. I had to get beyond the fear of not having any clients, money or security. The first step was seeing a few clients in a friend’s practice. The next step was to understand the core beliefs that were holding me back. It took some time to come to grips with a fear of poverty, fear of failure and of course the fear of the unknown. Spending some time with a therapist was extremely helpful, especially as it related to unraveling core issues.
Journaling helped me become clearer regarding what changes had to be made, as well as defining the steps necessary to make it happen. It also helped create a sense of worthiness, locking in the belief of the possibility of getting more of what was desired. My intention during this time was to jump of the security bandwagon of Mental Health into the unknown of private practice. In addition to journaling, visualization was an important tool. I created strong visualizations of my future office and its contents as I wanted it to look, even to seeing my books and being surrounded by favorite colors. Visualization is a powerful tool, especially when you repeat it and see the end result, as if it has already happened.
So in time I was ready for my big day, gave my notice, and as expected some fellow workers at Mental Health, thought it was crazy to risk in such a way. Others approached me as if I was really courageous in my decision making.
It is somewhat like a novelist who is proclaimed an overnight success, but has years of work behind her and drawers full of rejection slips. All of my major changes have taken their toll, inch by excruciating inch. Sometimes it gets so hard to get myself moving out of the familiar trenches, I picture myself on my deathbed reviewing my life. I do not want that review to be full of wishing that I had done things differently back then. NO! When it’s time to die, if it is possible I want to look back over my life and be able to respect the efforts made, even if I was too frightened to move swiftly. Slow is better than not at all.
In moving towards my goal, there were indeed consequences, good and bad. I remember the first Monday after I left Mental Health after a nice warm going away party, feeling paralyzed. I couldn’t breathe or move, having no security, no structure and wondering, what have I done? I had left everything I depended on for twelve years. After pushing myself to get dressed to look for an office, some of the panic slipped away.
What was left was a low level buzz of anxiety, and an overwhelming sense of helplessness. It was as if I was on a swinging bridge between the past and the future, right in the middle, where the narrow, unsteady bridge feels more like a rocking hammock. I couldn’t go back and feared going forward, so inching was the speed of the day. This bridge is a great visual for important changes having been on it many many times, not liking it, but there are risks in life, one cannot afford not to take.
On the other side are the positive consequences of risking. For me in this instance was freedom to set up my practice to see the kinds of clients for which I am grateful , and love to work with, as well as learning so much from them and their courage. My work has been difficult, expansive and rewarding. The positive consequences outweighed the negative, shortly after getting off that bridge.