Major Life Changes can cause us to re-evaluate how we’ve been doing things — to look, and truly see — what’s working, and what’s clearly not. We’re already familiar with what Psychology tells us are the Ten Most Disruptive Life Events: deaths and divorce being at the top of the list and soul-crushing. But births and marriages can also cause stress and even trigger some pretty primal fears. I’m still getting used to — after almost two years — my transition from a super-structured work environment to one that’s more flexible and creative. A change that, for me, became as necessary as breathing air.
Up until fairly recently, I’d had a lot of change (to put it more graphically, a succession of Top Ten upheavals) in my life. Standing in the shadow of fear became abnormally ‘normal’. Not external, generic anxiety over living in a complex world. My fears were internal, usually emerging as self-doubt and self-criticism. Perfectionism. Also, an irrational need to control my surroundings; to stay one step ahead of whatever I sensed might be ready to pounce. I was hyper-alert professionally (a female in a male-dominated career), as well as personally (I felt doomed in my desire for work-life balance). For years — decades! — I knew the crazy-making and nonsensical fear was there, gnawing-away at my wellbeing. But I tried to ignore it. I blamed it on other things, and other people.
Despite my having achieved some significant personal and professional goals, there came a point when I realized that I was Just. So. Tired. Maybe my readiness to Look, and Truly See came because I had the security and stability to do so; more time and mental space to start connecting important dots. How many of my important life choices were being driven by Fear of some kind or other? How many were motivated by my Heart’s desires and deep understanding of what was truly in my best interests? The imbalance was obvious.
Having the time, safe space and opportunity to ask those questions is — as I know well– a luxury. Still, some degree of awareness is always available to us, regardless of age or circumstance. It’s primarily the fear of what the answers might be, not the questions themselves, that makes us hesitate.
There was no single method that kick-started my exploration of why and how being afraid (of failure, in general) had impacted my life. I could never fully quiet my mind, so meditation was not as helpful as it is for some. I did try some ‘standards’ of self-care: reiki and energy-healing; breathwork and accupuncture; yoga; check-ins with Abraham, and past-life regression. I read some amazing books. I kept reaching-out; one book leading me to another.
But then it hit me: it wasn’t one thing in particular: it was ALL of it — wrapped up as the Gift of Attention to my Self. I was dedicating the same care, compassion and patience that I’d held in reserve for other people, projects, my career, my marriage and my child…to my Self.
I’m not going to say that, overnight, I stopped feeling fearful of Life’s Great Unknowns. But I did recognize that the decision to live bravely — quietly and to myself, proclaiming my right to seek happiness, according to my own needs — had begun.