I have been known to say, “Once you let the genie out of the bottle, you can’t ever stuff it back in again.” However, what this pithy visual candy implies, but doesn’t make clear, is that once you let the genie out, we always want to stuff it back in again.
THE UNKNOWN IS FREAKING SCARY
When we commit to making change in our lives by stepping out of our fear box, the great vastness of the unknown lies before us (rather than the ‘lovely’ view of the kraft brown box we’ve been confined in), it’s completely natural to shrink back a little and allow fear to take over again.
Last week, I had a call with my coach. I was ready to roll and do some serious changing. But after the excitement of saying “yes!” to change had worn off, my old friend Fear paid me a visit and all my usual worries, “OMG, if I get too successful I’ll be overwhelmed with work!”, “But what if I throw a party and no one comes?” and “How will I get there, what if I stumble or (eek!) FAIL?” started playing their tapes in my head. All at once. Until, all I could hear was the gibberish of all these fear messages, which created more fear. More fear AND paralysis…
So, instead of diving in, the fog rolled in like the sleeping poppies scene from the Wizard of Oz. (I’m Dorothy in the scene, and Fear the Wicked Witch, btw…) and I could no longer see the vision.
A WAY THROUGH THE FOG OF UNKNOWN AND BACK TO THE LIGHT
Be gentle with yourself — It happens to us all. Don’t smack yourself upside the head and remind yourself again how stupid you are. You aren’t stupid at all. You are human. Change is scary, plus, you know you can’t unsee or unlearn what you now know (or force the genie back into the bottle), right? You can’t turn back, but it’s okay to be afraid. Treat yourself like the tender child that you are. Comfort her and assure her that it’s okay to be afraid, but that you’ve got her back. She can do this.
Write about the experience — Go back to the moment that the light of understanding and commitment to change or embracing the new entered your being. Call that feeling back to you. Write it all down so it doesn’t feel like a dream. It was real. It actually happened and if it happened once, it can happen again.
Replay the aha moment or the breakthrough moment — Do this as many times as you need to. Breathe it in, remember the feelings and emotions. Get that visual and all the sensory stimulation back in your head.
What’s the first right step? — This is the time for getting still and listening. Your heart (your soul) knows what you need to do. You don’t need to think of it as a leap across a chasm. What is the first step you need to take that will bring you closer to where you want to be? Make a list of the steps you think you need to make and sit with it for a bit. The right first step will rise up like a fizzy bubble.
Take the first right step — When you have made your list and you know what to do, take a teeny-tiny step towards your goal. If it turns out it’s too big of a step, break it down further and take three baby steps instead. It doesn’t matter that you feel like the tortoise. Remember who won the race in the end...
Take the next right step, and the next right step — As you get more confident, watch for the signs that you’re on the right path. These signs abound. How do you feel? Still scared but a little exhilarated? Oh, look, a confirmation, a good day, a happy client, a job offer that will bring you closer. Yay! You’re on the right path!
Took a wrong step? Course correct! — If it doesn’t feel so good, or problems greet you in a step... Stop. Listen in. This could mean you need to make a minor course correction. Don’t need to give up, or go back to the beginning. Just keep replaying the breakthrough experience, listening in and the course correction will make itself known to you. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It usually just means you missed a marker or a sign. Sometimes you will need to retrace your steps to a few back to see the path that you could swear wasn’t there before.
If it feels right in your heart, follow it towards your goal.
THE ANSWERS ARE INSIDE YOU
All through this change process, all you’re doing is simply learning to trust that Voice of Knowing in your heart and following her lead. You won’t be perfect, but every time you get off course and allow yourself to get back on course, you’re building up resilience because you’re bouncing back from setbacks that have held you back, or stopped you in the past. Fear begins to take a back seat as she feels you building confidence.
You got this. Drive on.
kathy mercure is a storyhealer, writer, and storylistener. Her life’s work is to gently draw stories from her students and help them unblock their writing, find their voice, and heal their lives. Her passion is to support women and men in realizing their true identity as a valued human being, claiming their passions, and speaking their truth as they become their most authentic selves. (Photo by EagleSpirit Soul Shots)