Deciding to Begin a Bold, New Chapter of Your Life Story
I chose the word deciding as the first in the title of this blog because I think you can make that decision and make it stick.
Deciding to move forward with a whole new level of energy and optimism isn’t supposed to be “a thing,” as teenagers and twenty-somethings now put it. It isn’t convention wisdom. Conventional wisdom dictates that stars need to align or that the mood has to strike you or that any number of internal hurdles must be cautiously navigated in order to move forward, powerfully, in a new direction.
As a psychiatrist, I know, of course, that unresolved, unconscious emotional turmoil can create resistance to change, not to mention profound suffering. I am not negating the power of the past to cast long shadows into the future. And, yet, I also believe that the human mind can be given the permission and coaxed to find the courage to resolve to cast off the psychological shackles that would, otherwise, keep a person frozen in place, possibly for a lifetime.
In order to make the decision to begin a bold, new chapter in your life story, it is important, from the start, to accept that moving forward could be painful—maybe extremely painful—but that the pain will not stop you. That perspective is critical because it creates some separation —cognitively and emotionally—between you and the discomfort of striking out in a new direction or with renewed resolve or despite the risk. And once your mind is given that breathing room, it can resolve to move forward in spite of the pain.
Yes, psychological suffering can—when you summon real intention—be seen as an outside force to tackle, not something that defines you. This is often true even for depression, by the way. It probably does no one any good to say, “I’m depressed.” That suggest you are that condition. Instead, it would be healthier to say, “I have a depression right now that’s really painful, but it’s not going to stop me.” Is that hard to do? You bet it is. Is it possible to do it? I believe it is.
Accept that moving forward could be painful—maybe extremely painful—but that the pain will not stop you.
–Dr. Keith Ablow
Deciding to start a bold, new chapter in your life often brings pain with it because it is unfamiliar terrain, because it tests your self-esteem (Do I really have what it takes to do this?) and because leaving the familiar behind can trigger a kind of homesickness for what once was—even if it was suboptimal, or much worse than that.
Once you accept that moving forward may be painful, but that that won’t stop you, it’s time to let yourself get a little angry. There’s a kind of bloodlust aspect to moving forward to become a more complete version of yourself. You have to kill off the resistance in your way. You have to get pissed off at the tethers binding you to routine. You need the kind of warrior energy that hockey teams and football teams feel running onto the field to do battle with their adversaries.
Yes, psychological suffering can—when you summon real intention—be seen as an outside force to tackle, not something that defines you.
–Dr. Keith Ablow
Is there an adversary when you decide to begin a bold, new chapter of your life story? You bet there is. There’s more than one, in fact. There’s the self-defeating psychological call to stay in your lane, even if your lane is a rut. There are those around you who will tell you not to make waves. There are people who won’t agree your dream is reasonable or who reject your initial efforts or your work product.
Get fighting mad. And let that healthy anger grow in the space you’ve created between yourSELF and your pain. Let yourself swear at the resistance in your way. Tell it to screw itself, out loud. Get out of bed in the morning like you mean it, like you’re being called to the green to face an invading army. Because, you are.
Remember: Breaking the chains that bind you isn’t likely to feel good. It’s going to feel like your wrists and ankles might snap before the iron links do. But, being free of the chains . . . well, that’s a whole other feeling. It’s called feeling alive.
Dr. Keith Ablow
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