New Beginnings Are Scary
I remember the moment I took this picture. It was shortly after I signed the lease for my brand new office space and left a job that I loved in hopes of creating something new. It was a cold March day as I snapped this quick photo and then all of a sudden I had this moment of panic. As I stood all alone in this sterile environment I asked myself "What did I just do?" I had an immediate sense of dread fall over me, but more specifically a sense of fear of the unknown future. Will I succeed in this new venture of starting my own private therapy practice, or will I crash and burn? Will I have enough clients to pay for my business overhead as well as provide for myself and my soon-to-be wife?
On the one hand, I was excited about this new beginning, but on the other, I felt scared and over my head. I had to learn how to hold my fear of the unknown without allowing it to overwhelm me. For me this was just one new beginning that I had to walk through, but what about you? What is that new beginning just over the horizon that you can sense? Is it perhaps a new job, a new relationship, or a newfound hope?
In working with clients who are experiencing similar fears and uncertainties brought about in starting something new, I often hear this one common theme. This theme has to do with expectations of emotions. When starting something that seems to be an overall good thing, the expectation is that they should not feel or experience any negative emotions. "Why am I scared about starting this new amazing job" one client asked as she processed a recent promotion at work. That was followed up by, "I shouldn't be feeling this way about this great opportunity."
I focused on helping her understand that our emotions can be complex and it's totally normal. Things are not often just "black and white" but they include a lot of grey. Life frequently requires us to hold opposite emotions at the same time in two hands. This client's expectation was to only feel one type of emotion: happy OR sad, excited OR scared.
The reality of the situation was that she felt both honored AND nervous about this opportunity. She felt both eager to start her new job AND sad to leave her old co-workers, whom she admired. Two opposing emotions don't cancel each and make one or the other disappear. Our lives are not simple math equations. It's normal to experience opposite emotions when starting something new.
As my office space slowly started to take shape, I reminded myself that it is okay to feel both scared AND anxious. As I leaned into my faith, I reminded myself of my hopes and dreams of what I want Life Redefined Clinical Counseling to become. A safe place for clients to discover their new normal and take bold steps in their lives. Now it's your turn. If you find yourself in the middle of experiencing complex emotions as you are starting something new, take a moment to remind yourself that it is normal to feel opposite emotions and encourage yourself by reminding yourself of what you hope to come out of this new beginning.