I woke up this morning with a big smile as I woke up naturally and not with:
Mommy! It is morning, there is light, let’s play tickle. Please, mommy!!
I truly am appreciative of my son, and he is my greatest gift in life. At the same time, my mornings are sacred. So when I do get to wake up on my terms, pure bliss!
But then something else became evident that I had totally forgotten about. It has been exactly one year since I launched my business Thrive with EQ! I got a bit emotional as at times, I did not think I would last, and thus I would end up looking for a job.
When we feel overwhelming negative emotions when experiencing change on the inside, it is normal to be sentimental about your life. The brain filters all the information you absorb first through the limbic part of the mind where feelings are processed. Then these feelings transition to your rational part of the brain.
So navigating change on the inside requires the art of knowing how to allow emotions to flow through you so you can feel better on the other end of it.
“Emotion is Energy in Motion”.
Often, we suppress or numb this discomfort and thus create emotional blockages in our physical bodies. We basically are creating fertile ground for developing ulcers in our stomach by harbouring all these negative emotions.
That’s the biggest lesson I learned from my burnout. My body was exhausted from carrying all the suppressed and unexpressed emotions that it just gave up at one point. My mind and body were no longer connected. I needed to heal, to rest and to figure out how to process and express my emotional blockages!
You may wonder as that’s all nice and well, but how does someone navigate change on the inside?
Navigating change on the inside starts by understanding the three phases of the emotional rollercoaster that happens within you.
In his book Transitions by organizational consultant and a best-selling author William Bridges, explains the psychological process of adapting to change.
Letting go of the familiar
We all go through many changes in our lives, yet very few of us take the time to grief our previous familiar environment. I felt very different when I handed in my resignation at NATO, and when I was actually no longer an employee with a fixed salary at the end of the month. Although the decision of quitting my job felt rewarding in every cell of my body, navigating the uncertainty that followed got scary at times.
The common negative emotions we feel when navigating uncharted territory were tough to handle.
The most challenging part was to embrace and navigate my fears in my new role as Entrepreneur, as a Founder and as my own boss. For that, I had to let go of the old Nadja. The Nadja who was an employee, who worked on someone else’s goals, and who gave away her time, creativity and manual labor to things that were no longer aligned with who she really was.
Even though I felt that starting my business was my calling, I still had to grief my familiar environment at NATO. The wonderful time and memories with my colleagues and all that I had achieved in my nearly two decade career at NATO. I had to learn to let go by grieving the previous version of me.
The in-between phase
The in-between phase or the “neutral zone” is the second phase which is filled with feelings of sadness, anger, frustration and anxiety as we don’t know what’s next! I was quite successful straight off the bat and I was blessed to work on some exciting projects and land clients within a few months.
I acted like a boss and someone who had it all under control, but I never felt like being in control until months later. Instead, I was overwhelmed at times with feelings of anxiety and doubts, with sadness and fear. I got used to predictability and was comfortable knowing what was next. Now I did not know what was next and how long I could be living off my savings.
What I learned during the process was that these feelings were absolutely normal. I did not like it, but they were human. Often we skip this phase as we don’t know or don’t want to deal with this kind of distress. But our body needs time to adapt and to follow our mind, it is biology.
What helped me is to stop beating up on myself and show more compassion. Every time I did a workshop or coached a client, I took the time to celebrate this moment as an achievement under the umbrella of CEO/Founder of Thrive with EQ. It helped me internalize the new me. It helped me shape a new narrative, one that’s aligned with being a Founder and an Entrepreneur.
The Power of Visualization
The third and last phase is training your optimism muscle through the power of visualization. The body of research behind the positive effects of visualization is growing. Imagining your future self, igniting your sensory systems, and placing images in your mind that trigger positive emotions is powerful. It lights up that part in your brain that is responsible for creating new neural pathways and internalizes new habits, new ways of thinking, and new behaviors much quicker than if you focus on changing with negative emotions.
Think about it for a moment. When you take action or when you work, and you experience negative emotions…everything feels like a struggle, and you really have to motivate yourself beyond measure to get something done. However, when you feel good and inspired and THEN you take action.. How does that feel? Good, Empowered, and Inspired!
That’s what I did almost every morning (when I did not have my son waking me up for his cereals and cartoon series!).
But I imagined the version of me that was thriving.
The version of me that loved designing crisis simulations and exercise people skills in the age of disruption.
The version of me that was an empowered entrepreneur and believed in every cell of her body that she CAN and SHALL do it.
And so I did.
Of course, I faced hurdles, hardships, and disappointments.
Of course, I had many people reminding me of their insecurities, fears and shortcomings.
Of course, at time I felt like giving up.
But I did not. I knew what I was capable of and I chose to focus my energy on implementing my vision.
I chose to focus my energy on moving forward and not hold any grudges against the past. I let go of people who no longer served their purpose in my life as I learned the lessons they were here to teach me. I let go with kindness, love, and compassion.
No hard feelings as I remember that ulcers would grow in MY stomach, not THEIRS!
I hope this blog will inspire you and help you navigate change from a place of empowerment. Emotions are part of who we are, and human beings are messy. That’s ok.
Learn how to Master your Emotions, and you shall Master your Mind!
P.S Join our growing community of Master your Emotions, Master your Mind. Every Sunday evening I share an EQ Productivity Hack, my Empowerment Blogs, an inspiring video from some of the most successful people and your weekly inspirational mantra! No spam, just value to live a life of well-being.