5th Jun 2012
A Word On Your Mind
At the start of the Getting Unstuck process, many people feel full of hope and expectation that they have finally found a way out of being ‘Headstuck‘.
If this is you, great! But we are going to ask you to hold these thoughts lightly because we know what’s coming next…
At the beginning of the process it’s easy for the mind to say ‘this is going to be great!’, but then as the journey goes on it think ‘hang on, this seems difficult, are you sure this is the right way forward?’
Unless clients are prepared for this it can lead to disengagement from the process. If on the other hand we can normalise these thoughts (both the positive and negative) and treat them as ‘just thoughts’ clients are much better prepared.
Let’s get one thing clear; your mind did not evolve to ensure your personal happiness. It evolved to scan the environment for danger; is it a bear, or a blueberry bush?
The caveperson who was relaxed about that strange shadow in the undergrowth or the unfamiliar noise over by the woods was rapidly weeded out of the gene pool. The ones who survived – our ancestors – were the ones whose minds were always alert to possible danger.
Today our minds haven’t changed, yet is operating in a completely different environment:
Our brains evolved for a very different world from today… A world in which people lived in very small groups, rarely met anybody different from themselves, had short lives with few choices and where the highest priority was to eat and mate today. Professor Dan Gilbert
Apart from some people I know whose priority is still to eat and mate today, for most of us this has changed utterly. The question is therefore not whether anxiety creeps in, but when.
What does this mean for career changers?
- Anxiety, uncertainty, doubt are all virtually guaranteed in this process. (Mind you, they are if you do nothing as well).
- Your mind will present anxiety, doubt, fear etc as indications that you are going the wrong way, but if anything they may be more reliable indicators that you are dealing with a subject that matters to you (i.e. your career).
- Research shows that the move we try to change or avoid difficult thoughts and emotions the more important we make them and the less flexibility we have for moving forwards.
- The question is not whether we experience difficult thoughts and emotions, but our relationship to them when they show up. If you treat your thoughts and emotions as reliable indicators of the best way forward, then you may see anxiety as a sign that you are heading the wrong way. This would be understandable, but it’s likely to keep you stuck.
What can you do about this?
Understanding your mind’s role in change is a great start. See if you can sit back and marvel at its instinct to protect you -it will find many ways of doing so.
See if you can notice that your thoughts and emotions tend to come and go like the weather. And that having them around doesn’t necesarily mean you have to change your behaviour.
The great choice that life seems to offer is the pain of growth or the pain of stagnation.
For many, the mind’s instinct to protect us needs to be balanced by the need to take some risks and find out who we could become in this world. In this respect, anxiety is simply the price for freedom.