I hear a lot from my clients, friends and family how difficult and confusing it is to feel multiple feelings at once. Let’s consider a common scenario – the end of a former relationship and the beginning of a new one. You might feel excited, nervous, sad, regretful, relieved, second-guessing, anxious and thrilled all at the same time. What to do, what to do?!
I personally am going through some major changes in my own life – some losses that cause me sadness, and some exciting moves toward love and family. It’s a lot to handle all at once. I find it helpful to stay “close to the ground” where I’m taking things one step at a time. If I don’t do this, I’m likely to project the most negative outcome far out into the future and cause myself a lot of anxiety, insomnia and rumination about the “what if’s.” But staying with one step at a time means that you are admitting that you really don’t know what’s going to happen next. That’s so, so hard for most of us.
I also do my best, and fail, to exercise a sense of faith. If you have a sense of faith in a higher power or purpose, you might appeal to that sense to guide you. If you simply have a sense that the universe is a friendly place that wants you to thrive, then appeal to that sense. I often feel that I, solely, am responsible for making all the right decisions, doing the hard work, and making sure that others are cared for. What??!! This is too much for one person, makes me perceive others as threats instead of potential collaborators, and simply drains me of my energy and perspective. I would do better to relax and be open as others also attempt to do their best to take care of themselves. This promotes a sense of friendliness and help as opposed to isolation and threat. Looking for the help and collaboration of those around you can help make a difficult transition easier. Heck, even just getting some perspective and writing this makes me feel less alone!
I also sometimes have trouble focusing on the positive, exciting aspects of transition that also involve loss. It’s hard to feel both things at once, or toggle too quickly between the two. Sometimes, I can get myself to visualize the bright future, but that also may feel like a set-up if it doesn’t come to pass the way you visualize. I like to zoom out and not focus too much on the details, and instead on the feelings or the values that I’m moving toward. This seems both safer and more realistic, since we don’t always have control over what will happen.
That’s ultimately my biggest lesson – letting go of the desire to control. I don’t want things to change. That’s scary. But they will, despite me. I need to let go, relax, keep my eyes and ears open for the opportunities and helping hands along the way, and treat myself with compassion as something dies and something is born. Both are true. And I (we) are big enough to move through it all.