It’s a strange thing to consider what to share in the first blog on a new website, in a new town, in a new stage of life and a new path in a career. Sometimes when we encounter beginnings we frame them as such momentous occasions we feel they must require special attention. While this is certainly true in some regards, often we can find ourselves so intimidated by “starting off right” that we don’t start at all. For those times in our lives when we have the choice to move forward (i.e. new project, new goal, new passion) this worry can stop us before we even begin. For those beginnings from which we cannot easily turn back (i.e. bringing a new baby home, the new job that starts Monday, the life that continues after the loss of a loved one) this wanting to get it “right” and feel happy and competent from the beginning creates pressure that can rob us of our joy, our confidence and the self-compassion that is essential for “the new.”
Many of us are gifted at extending patience and compassion to others when they encounter a beginning. “You can do it! Keep trying!” we tell our children as they learn to crawl, get dressed, to figure out fractions. “I’m so proud of you. Just do your best!” we tell our teens when they start a new sport, a difficult class, and when they head off to college. “I’m here for you. You’re doing great. You are strong.” we say to our friends as they take a risk, lose a child, or learn how to get out of bed again after the pain of a divorce. Yes, many of us champion others well and forget to extend this to ourselves.
While the specific skills or training needed for success will vary by situation, it is important to realize that the base ingredients for starting well are already in you. You have begun again a great many times in your life! Depending on your stage in life you have started new school years, new jobs, new relationships, new projects and gained new awareness of the state of the world around you. Every single one of these new experiences has built in you a capacity to tolerate change, grow your abilities and expand the schema in your head. Why then, if we are so experienced, do we often encounter fear at new beginnings?
The element that tends to separate the progress from the paralysis is how we speak to ourselves about the new. We lose our joy, our nerve and our peace when we frame beginnings as a threat…
Change is bad.
This is too much for me.
I don’t learn very quickly.
I am not good at new things.
I can’t make it through this pain again.
I am too old, too young, too shy, too scared, too much or not enough for this.
Conversely, progress and the courage to move forward with hope comes from the recognition that you have survived many a beginning so far. When we approach beginnings with this mindset we say…
I am capable.
I can figure this out.
I have done hard things before.
I have made it through pain before.
I am not alone, many people have encountered this and moved on.
I can be sad, or scared, or unsure, or even unskilled, but that does not mean I am unable.
Today I want you to know that you are better at beginnings than you think. The new is often hard, or scary, or even simply inconvenient but hard is not bad, it is where you grow. Today we are beginning again, not with great fanfare but rather with the peaceful assurance that we know how, or we will learn how, one step at a time.