One of the biggest obstacles people confront in making an important change in their lives is facing their own fear of not knowing what will happen when they take this step.
Will they drop into the void– or make the leap from the cliff’s edge to the other side?
If they get to the other side, what will they have left behind and will they find their heart’s desire?
You may remember the moment when you absolutely knew you had to make a change in your job or the way you live. You may have had significant dreams, body signals (stress, pain, illness), or other signs, such as burnout or lack of interest at work, shouting that your existing life patterns no longer feel meaningful. What made you begin to pay attention to these subliminal messages? When did you feel that the way you were working or living was too cramped, that you had to push your way out of the shell surrounding you into a bigger life?
As you know, resistance to an upwelling clamor for change within yourself can come at a high cost. One woman I worked with in a software firm was struggling, after a difficult family crisis, to maintain the energy she’d formerly had for her job. She had to take several sick leaves and had occasional difficulty completing projects for which she was responsible.
She was terrified of being fired, though she also longed to be, and the emotional stress was overwhelming. As we explored her situation, I asked her what it was she feared the most. “Not knowing what I want to be doing instead,” she responded.
Initially, she’d enjoyed her position, but now felt she was developing into a different kind of person. Other interests of hers were wanting expression with a completely different way of working– and a new partner for life. However, she hesitated to leap out of her current career when she wasn’t clear about the direction she wanted to take next.
So I suggested that she take walks at her lunch break to exercise her body (which was also a goal of hers) and free her mind. Her journaling after some of her walks reflected new openings into what was truly important to her– collaborative work with others in some field involving personal growth and lifelong learning. In the quote below, notice her attunement to her own call through the energy of nature, with the metaphors of the “path” and “the two egrets flying together” reflecting her desires for professional and personal change:
Later in the walk, I turned a corner and saw the road stretching out
ahead of me. I am on the path to my future, I thought. I wonder what
it will bring? At that moment, I saw two egrets flying together far up ahead.
This was her first step on a journey of much inner reflection that stirred the waters of her desire into a path towards a more personally fulfilling way of working and living. And yes, she succeeded, as you can read in my forthcoming book (information below).
It’s understandable that we cling to the known for its predictability, comforts, and societal approval. However, when the emotional pain of this clinging becomes too great, we have the opportunity– with the right kind of support– to choose to move past fear of not knowing into our potential for living and working authentically and well.