Life Changes are Inevitable. Here are Five Ways to Help the Accompanying Fear and Pain Transform You
I am a sucker for scary shows. I’m not talking about the gore fest like in The Saw movies, I am referring to the mind-bending stories you think imitate real life. One of these movies is Silence of the Lambs. Actor Anthony Hopkins is terrifying as Hannibal Lecter. I have watched this movie more than a dozen times and every viewing has given me the same chills as the first time (I have no explanation as to why I continue to frighten myself watching this movie).
This is not new for me. I grew up watching The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour with my fellow “inmates” at Sacred Heart Orphanage in Pueblo, Colorado. Sometimes the shows would get so intense that I would cover my eyes with my hands to not watch what was on the screen. But my curiosity always “forced” me to watch the climactic scene between my fingers. At night, i would often relive the fright in nightmares.
But none of this compares to the paralyzing terror and anxiety I get when facing a significant life change. These are not my favorite experiences, but I’m stuck with them, for change is the only constant in life, .
Trauma and fear of the unknown are relatives
I am aware that the trauma I experienced at an early age amplified my fear of the unknown. Big changes would always trigger the old fears of abandonment I developed from the time my parents put me on a plane to the USA and cast my fate to the wind. The thought of what I may have to live without terrorized me. Change also unnerved me with the uncertainty of whom I might become. These were the conclusions I reached as a child, but I have been able to change them as an adult.
What frightens us the most about change is the very gift it brings into our lives. Change removes the old structures and opens our life with boundless possibilities, but it is hard for us to see this great opportunity to create anew when we are longing for the life we once had. Our common mistake is that we convinced ourselves early on that we can make decisions that guarantee everlasting happiness and security. As we have learned, change bursts that illusory bubble.
Knowing change can help you evolve doesn’t make it easier to accept
Change is both frightening and exciting. Our past failures conditioned us to concentrate on the frightening or painful part of change because we dread the physical and emotional contortions we will experience. Just ask anyone who is dealing with a major illness or a heart attack, or someone who has gone through divorce, bankruptcy or a loss of employment. The pain is real. The great psychiatrist Carl Jung acknowledges as much when he said,
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
This is the role change — whether positive or negative — plays, it lifts the dark curtain of your illusions so you can see your real self.
Getting help for your emotions
I still don’t welcome change all that well, but I have learned that I am better because of it and I don’t panic as much. This understanding about change has improved my life, I hope it helps with yours.
1) Take stock of the life transitions you have managed.
You have been dealing with change your entire life and you are where you are today because you weathered these life alterations. In the hours of darkness, it helps to remember you have handled what life has thrown at you so far. You have learned skills and you can use them again.
2) Don’t beat yourself up if you are fearful.
Being fearful of the unknown is natural. Don’t fight it, the more you try to deny those feelings the more they will keep resurfacing. When you are fearful, sit with those feelings, they will move on in less than two minutes and new thoughts will emerge to make things clearer.
3) Act as if.
Your imagination is a great gift. Most of the technological amenities you experience today began in someone’s imagination. Your imagination can help you every day if you take a few minutes to imagine yourself already living beyond the challenge that confronts you. When you are acting as if, you command the universe to fit the reality you imagine. I have gotten good at this and I can sense the exhilaration for the new opportunities and lessons contained therein.
4) Easy does it.
Whenever I got frightened, I tended to magnify the downside of the things that could happen to me if I failed. Looking back, I realize that the worst I imagined never happened. The way to combat these amplifications is to live moment to moment, day by day. I find peace in doing just what is in front of me. Living in the moment helps me feel peaceful and safe. Whatever outcome I imagine, I can put it off by knowing I don’t have to deal with it today.
5) Have faith in a Higher Power.
My life sucked when I was an agnostic. Nothing had meaning or purpose, but my life improved when I began to see that I am connected to a Higher Intelligence that wants me to learn, grow and become my highest self. this is true for you as well.
My favorite metaphor to describe our spiritual evolution is hope water boils. I invite you to fill a pan with water, put it on the stove and turn up the heat. As the water boils, bubbles form and soon there is great turmoil present in the pan as the water transforms into steam. What I love about this metaphor is how the boiling water frees itself form the pan by becoming unconfined steam. Change does the same with you, for it can rid your life of the stifling values and traditions that confined you and set your spirit floating boundlessly on this earth.
I can recall times when I believed the events in my life were forcing me to jump off a steep precipice. As it turned out, the cliff was only one inch deep.
If you are ready to trade in your humdrum life for one of meaning and purpose, subscribe to my free weekly newsletter on my website and receive motivation and encouragement to help you on your way. Share it to help family and friends.
Going through a difficult life transition?
You might enjoy reading my latest memoir, Catch and Release: One Man’s Improbable Search for True Love and the Meaning of Life. Download a PDF of the first 5 chapters of Catch and Release free. To order your inscribed copy in either hardcover or paperback, click here (https://www.guillermovidal.me/shop/). Catch and Release is also available on Kindle here (https://www.amazon.com/Catch-Release-Improbable-Search-Meaning-ebook/dp/B07F26N1HS/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1535494644&sr=1-2). Happy reading!