Self-Love in Times of Change and Struggle
Often times in life, many of us choose to take a new path. Maybe it is a search for a new career. Maybe it is a search for a new lover. Maybe it is more about letting go of past attachments. Growth comes in times of change, not in times of continuity and comfort. Change, however, is scary. Because it is not the familiar, there will be periods of confusion, doubt, and questioning. Jenna Ward interviewed with Just Stay Curious. She described her choice to leave her comfortable world of full time employment as a pharmacist, to explore her true purpose. She was asked if she ever doubted her choice.
“I certainly had moments when my mind was like, ‘maybe it would be easier to go back. . .’ but what kept me on the course of alignment for me was two very simple things: first, telling myself the truth. . . and second, the capacity for me to feel in my body.”
Staying in Alignment – Telling Yourself the Truth
As a preliminary matter, be kind enough to tell yourself the truth at each step. Before you launch down your new path, consider journaling your feelings about your new choice. What are you excited about? What are you looking forward to? Why are you making this change? It might look something like this:
I am looking for a new career because I find my current work to be mind numbingly boring. It does not give me joy. It does not give me purpose. I am excited about exploring a new career working as a life coach. I am looking forward to helping other people. I am looking forward to having control over my own schedule. I am making this change because I love myself enough to take this risk. I love myself enough to explore this opportunity.
At some point, during your transition, your mind is going to rebel. This is because our brains operate on several levels. Your highest functioning brain can see the potential that the new change can bring. But the reptilian portion of your brain is going to object. The reptilian part of your brain craves sameness, certainty, familiarity. Your reptilian brain will tell you, “You can’t do this.” “We were better off before.” “We are going to fail and end up homeless and destitute.”
When you hear these negative thoughts, remind yourself to return to your higher brain journaling. This will help you examine the truth of the negative statements. Is it true that you really can’t do this? Or is today just a bad day? Do you have any data you can review about other days, where you had successes? Were you really better off before? Back when you hated your current work? Back when you felt you had no purpose? Do you really think if you go down this path another day that your friends and family will allow you to become destitute? Be brutally honest with yourself. Love yourself enough to tame your reptilian brain.
Staying in Alignment – Letting Yourself Feel
Letting yourself feel your feelings can be scary. In fact, many people use alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs for the specific purpose of avoiding feeling anything. However, to stay in alignment, feeling your feelings is critical. This is also why you need to be brutally truthful with yourself. If you let your reptilian lies of failure remain unchallenged, your feelings will remain alarming. First, find your truth, then check in with your body. Jenna Ward tells us that both our thoughts and our feelings give us information that we should be listening to.
One way to check in with your feelings is to sit quietly and ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” Then, once you decide, ask yourself, “Is that true?” Take some time to see if there are layers to your feelings. Question yourself about your truths. It might look like this:
· “I am feeling scared.”
· “Because I haven’t done this before.”
· “What else?”
· “I’m feeling kind of excited.”
· “Because I am doing something new and brave.”
· “Does that make you proud?”
· “Yes! Yes, it does.”
· “What else?”
· “I’m kind of amazed at this whole process.”
Pick your focus and your feelings will follow. This process takes some time to learn. But implementing it can lead to tremendous advances in your ability to identify what you are thinking and feeling quickly. This can lead to shortening the amount of time you spend on destructive messages, and refocusing your thoughts on more productive topics.
Accept the Cycle
You will always be growing and changing. Your reptilian brain will always try to prevent this. By being truthful with yourself, and listening to your true feelings, you will create smoother transitions as you grow and change.