It happened - you finally got what you have been wanting for so long!
Graduation, getting a new job, moving to a new place, beginning or committing to a relationship, discovering you are pregnant, giving birth/adoption, a job promotion, retirement, even vacation- all of these are desired events. All of these can be an answer to prayer. And all of these can cause a myriad of mixed feelings. While on the one hand, these life changes are anticipated and wanted, there can still remain a sense of the unknown, insecurity, confusion and even fear. Recognizing that these mixed emotions can be part of the process of stepping into the next chapter of your life can reduce the amount of discomfort or the duration of this uncomfortable experience.
What is not always recognized is that there is a loss involved with getting what you want. The daily effort that becomes the background of daily life is no longer required. So now what? Routines, structure, familiarity are replaced by the new, the unexpected, the unknown.
Loss can be disconcerting
Giving the experience a frame of “loss” allows you to begin to understand why a wholehearted embrace of the new is such a challenge. Grief often follows loss. This is normal and expected. Coming to terms with loss is a process that takes time, some willingness to risk new feelings and experiences, and to move out of your comfort zone.
This is all the process of finding a new normal. For adrenaline junkies and novelty seekers this “space in between” is a desirable state. For those who prefer the known, it can be unnerving. Mindfulness is a tool that can be applied to this situation.
One of the tenants of mindfulness is curiosity. Inherent in curiosity is a sense of not judging the experience as good/bad, painful/comfortable, wanted/unwanted. Instead choosing to notice the thoughts, feelings, body sensations that arise in a given moment and just noticing them without pushing them away, will help you move through this newness with less drama.
By way of example; A recent college graduate desires to move out of state, find a new job and being their new life. They do their research, find a location and begin to seek job opportunities. They interview, secure a job and in quick succession find housing, pack their belongings and move into a new town where the familiarity of home is gone. This is the American Dream for many people. This is a desired state. Yet anxiety, a sick gut feeling, heightened awareness follow the move. Bring in mindfulness.
Tap into how you are feeling at this moment.
Apprehensive, unsure, excited, hopeful, and scared are possible responses. Notice these feelings and the thoughts associated with them.
“What the heck am I doing?”
“I must be crazy.”
“My whole life is riding on my success with this - no pressure.”
Notice what you body is doing.
You feel jazzed up like you’ve already consumed a pot of coffee.
Your appetite is reduced.
Your body just feels off.
Notice this. Don’t overthink or search for a reason why. Just notice…
Name your experience in neutral terms.
“This is my anxiety talking.”
” I am comparing.”
” I am experiencing fear.”
” I am uncomfortable.”
Even if you are acknowledging discomfort, that is not necessarily a negative assessment, it is recognizing your present experience. But be careful not to add drama and descriptions to the label;
“This is the worst feeling ever””
“This feels like it will never end.”
”I can’t stand this.”
Can you hear the difference?
If you allow the experience to rise -without adding to it, you will notice it will also recede. It will move through you and begin to fade. You will be likely to get back to neutral faster than before. This practice of non-attachment, non-judgement and curiosity can benefit your transition to finding a new rhythm. By tuning in, into your own internal guidance, you may tap into body sensations connected to your feelings (instead of your mind). These sensations can be good information. You may notice when a new routine feels right, it serves you and your new life. This is how you recognize that you are making progress.
The focus shifts from your head to your heart.
Redefining HOW you live your life, what you want this new chapter to include is one of the biggest benefits of taking on transitions. You have the power to choose what to include, what to remove, how you show up and experience life moving forward. Checking in that your internal feelings match your values and goals and help you live in your integrity will ensure you are on the right path. As with all things mindful, this will take practice.