“Though stigma is shared and learned, it is internalized individually.”
Even for the most optimistic of us, leaving the routine comfort of a life we have become accustomed to can be a daunting journey. Whether you’re retiring, pursuing your own business, or unexpectedly unemployed, the world can seem like a lonely place. You tell yourself you should feel excited and happy to embrace the opportunity to try something new, so why does it feel so scary?
After months, maybe years of knowing what your role is, what your environment looks like, who you are even, it’s natural to be apprehensive. Careers provide us with an identity, a sense of belonging and purpose.
Finding a new way of being in the world
Knowing how to ‘be’ outside of existence as you knew it can be challenging, and stilling the mind is no easy task. What should you do all day? What should you think about, work toward? How should you plan your time? Research shows that as little as 9-weeks of practicing a loving-kindness meditation can cultivate a greater sense of purpose, and reduce feelings of isolation and alienation.
Notice your surroundings
De-clutter. Visual reminders of working life will continue to trigger old thoughts, feelings, and behaviours for as long as they are there. Getting rid of reminders of what you have left, and bringing mindful awareness to your current surroundings will cultivate inner balance and help you to enjoy what you have now. Research shows positive mood and well-being are directly related to your awareness of daily routines. Simply observing your everyday experiences can generate the feel good factor!
Patterns of thinking are developed through years of practice. Unhelpful routines will persist while you remain on autopilot, relating to the world through your mind rather than your body. Train your mind to slow down and think differently. Practicing mindfulness will help you to recognize automatic thinking patterns, detach yourself, and make room for conscious choice.
Thinking about the past and worrying about the future can take up a huge amount of energy. With awareness you can train yourself to fully enjoy the pleasures of now. Letting go of the need for things to be different and accepting things as they are.
Show yourself some love
Fostering an attitude of compassion and loving kindness towards yourself will allow you to explore painful feelings without being consumed by them. A study conducted at the University of North Carolina demonstrated that practicing loving-kindness meditations increases positive emotion and zest for life.
Keep it in perspective
Remember you are part of a much larger story that continues to develop. Every thought, feeling, emotion, and behaviour in the story is a temporary happening. Personal circumstances included. Finding your inner balance will help you to manage the sometimes-turbulent rhythm of life.
It’s OK to be scared and vulnerable. Notice, without judgment, that your emotions and feelings are a normal part of the grief associated with leaving something behind and starting something new. Be curious about the realities of your experience. As humans we have a need to belong, a need for purpose and identity. Increase your feelings of self-worth and enjoyment by fully embracing the opportunities of right now.
It’s not about becoming someone new, just being comfortable with who you are, in this world. Right now.
The author of this post is an editorial contributor to Headspace. These are their views, experiences and results and theirs alone. This contributor was paid for their writing.