Sara Paules, MA, LPC
As we reach the final lax days of summer and head straight into the hustle of fall, I’m reminded of the ways in which transitions can take hold of our lives.
Transitions can bring about a sense of uncertainty which, for most of us, can feel uncomfortable and sometimes even scary. At times we may even resist change by creating rigid boundaries, staying up late at night worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet, or fixating on the worst possible scenario.
Up until a few years ago, I was a professional worrier. Things went on this way for years until I went to a workshop for therapists on clinical interventions for anxiety where a presenter shared that 85% of what we worry about never actually happens. Now, for whatever reason, this statistic really stopped me in my tracks. “What do you mean nearly all of what I worry about never actually happens?” I was clinging on hard to my anxiety like an alcoholic to a bottle of booze.
That’s when I realized I had a problem and I needed to challenge myself. Looking back, I can see now that at my core, my fear of change was really just a fear of failure. “What if things change and I can’t handle it or I fail?”
But when I remembered the 85% statistic, I realized that I didn’t really need to worry about whether or not my coworker gave me a dirty look, if I made the right decision in pursuing my Masters or my profession as a therapist, or about getting into an accident with my immediate family living between 200-300 miles away.
I also realized that when it comes to worrying about change, that I had a clear choice to make:
(1) Living in fear and anxiety while spending time worrying about the worst case scenarios or,
(2) Accepting the imperfections and the uncertainties in life.
And while choice #1 can be scary and uncertain, I learned that it can also hold us back from growth and new opportunities. Something that I also had to learn: imperfection doesn't mean that you are a failure. It means you’ve made it through something and have grown as a person because of change, not despite it.
Every new transition faced will be another opportunity to learn more about and challenge yourself to accept your whole, imperfect being for all that it is. Not everyone’s path to getting here will look the same. That;s because we are all different. But because I’ve learned to accept myself as I imperfectly am, I have to say that I’m proud of my ability to face new changes & transitions without spiraling into thoughts about failure (or at least, I catch myself doing it and I can change directions a lot sooner).