How to Overcome the Fear of Starting Over Later in Life
Is fear holding you back from starting over in life? Maybe you want to go back to work after raising your children, or after a divorce. Maybe you want to change career paths, or you may be thinking about starting your own business. You have probably done all your research, and you know what steps to take to move forward, but it requires being flexible – and when fear sets in it can be paralyzing.
“There’s, like, this fight between courage and fear…and sometimes we choose fear because we want to protect ourselves. But we don’t realize that by choosing fear, we put ourselves in a situation that has a really bad impact on us.” – Malala Yousafzai (OWN)
How to Overcome Fear of the Unknown
The fear of change is one of the most common fears that people face, and the roots are most often seated in fear of the unknown.
Fear of the unknown is the anticipation of danger. Whether the danger is real, or not (only in our head), the “bad impact” of fearing the unknown is how it stops us from pursuing our life dreams.
Here are some ways to manage fear of the unknown:
Fear is experienced in our minds, but it shows up physically. When we recognize danger, or when we are feeling fearful, the brain signals our nervous system, and a physical response is set into motion. Stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline are released, and then we start ‘feeling it.’ Our heart rate speeds up and our breathing quickens. The ‘my stress level just went up several notches’ feeling is real!
Recognizing fear of the unknown can be a bit tricky. It is difficult to pinpoint when we are good at disguising it. Our internal dialogue can sound like this:
- Who am I kidding? I am NOT a person capable of being my own boss. I’ve always worked for someone else.
- I am 55 years old. What sane woman would change careers at this point?! It will take 5 years just to go to school and then more time to find a position and grow into it! Eh…it is easier to just remain where I am.
- I raised my kids, and my divorce was final a year ago. I have not worked for over a decade! Who is going to hire me, especially not in my dream position, after this huge gap in employment? I am setting my sights too high. Whew, what was I thinking?
These statements camouflage fear by making practical excuses (i.e., too old, not enough experience, etc.), which dismisses our endeavors to start over in life.
Gain an awareness of negative and self-defeating talk!
Accept Fear and Use it For Success
Fear really is okay. It can keep us from making rash decisions. Embrace it, but do not let it take control. Use fear as a positive method to motivate yourself – to help you move forward.
Use what you fear about life change as a coaching tool. Ask yourself, or better yet, journal these questions to gain insight into what may be holding you back, and what should not be holding you back:
- What is the worst thing that could happen if I make this change?
- What is the best thing that could happen if I make this change?
- What will happen if I do not make this change?
- Am I avoiding change because I fear it?
- What practical steps (including small risks) can I take today to eliminate some of my fears (quitting is not the answer!)?
- Am I willing to ‘do it afraid’?
- Will I be at peace with myself if I do not make this change?
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Remember that you must let go of what was, or what is, in order to start your journey towards change. The real battle is in your mind, and much of that wraps around wanting to hang onto what feels familiar. Starting over requires allowing some discomfort as you grow.
You can do this!
Be Mindful: Engage in Self-Care
Sometimes, we all need a little break to process big life-changing decisions.
Be mindful of your thoughts. Are they positive or negative self-defeating thoughts?
Practice gratefulness. What are you grateful for today?
Be present in the moment. Enjoy even the smallest of pleasant experiences and allow yourself to let go when life changes (and it will).
Take a stress-reduction break. Allow yourself to relax. Do not apply any pressure. Give yourself the gift of time for self-care. No guilt allowed!
Need some self-care ideas? Check out How Does Self-Care Help Eliminate Anxiety, Fear, and Lack of Focus?
Stress can add up and make decisions in life much more difficult. Here is a practice that can help you manage your stress response:
Control Your Stress Response
Respond to your symptoms of stress through a mindful practice of deep and slower breathing, as well as a mental determination to face whatever is challenging you with an “I can do this” sense of calm. Keep in mind, your purpose is to not allow momentary stress to stretch out to chronic stress.
As you get into the realm of controlled calm, ask yourself, is there anything that you can do to prevent or help the situation that brought on the stress reaction? If yes, determine what practical and small steps you can take to remedy the circumstance(s). Do what you can do in the moment, and then allow yourself off the hook until you can take the next step. No worrying over it (remember baby steps…).
If you cannot do anything to help the situation, remove your attention from the problem altogether.
This may sound easier said than done, but once you make this a practice, it will begin to feel natural. In the meantime, let’s look at some additional steps you can take to manage stress.
Related Article: How to Recognize and Manage Stress
A Different Kind of Break from Stress
Fear, life decisions, and major changes all can lead to tight muscles, pain, and discomfort. Life will always happen, but we believe there is a way to reduce the stress and help you feel mentally and physically stronger.
We would like for Sage Blossom to be a part of that process for you, a way to live a better, healthier, and more balanced life. We are part of your feel better team!
Sage Blossom can be your stress-managing getaway in Austin, TX!
Check out our monthly massage membership, schedule a massage online, or call us!