Starting something new is filled with feelings! Excitement about the adventure of it, curiosity about how it will develop, and nervousness and fear about change often accompany change. Whether we have a new beginning with a new friendship, new job, new career, new city, or new love, it’s a process to greet the newness and face the fear.
“Feel the fear and do it anyway” is a commonly offered prescription to work with fear. This method, recommending forcing oneself to push fears through despite feelings, works for some folks. But pushing through can backfire and result in stuckness, as moving through despite the fear can feel too daunting for many.
Take the example of the prospect of choosing and moving toward a new career in midlife. Dreams of the benefits of the new career – greater fulfillment, less stress and greater freedom can drive the planning stage. Excitement about the possibilities and sense of relief of leaving behind current work stressors encourage movement. And then the fear or anxiety present within excitement can rise up and stall progress.
Mindfulness and compassion offer an alternative to pushing through fears. Pema Chodron suggests there are three steps in working with uncertainty and fear:
- Be fully present.
- Feel your heart.
- And engage the next moment without an agenda.
With mindful compassion, we treat ourselves tenderly. We pause, feel our heart, and recognize in the present moment that fear is here. We pause to feel our heart – to recognize with compassion and kindness that fear can be unsettling. Offering compassion to ourselves with thoughts like – “Yes, dear one – this feels scary” can feel like a soothing balm and allow us to stay engaged in the change process. Our self-compassion can soothe and prepare us for moving forward.
As I launch this Blog and MBSR Omaha webpage, I feel excitement and fear. And I pause in the present moment, breathe, recognize the fear, and offer kindness to myself in this process. My hope is that this Mindful Journeys Blog will support you and I in our ongoing development.