When a Door Closes, a Window Opens

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about endings.

Endings of jobs, personal relationships, life stages, business relationships, and other transitions.

My clients deal with all types of endings in their lives and they come to me for support. I find in my clients – and observe in my own life – that endings can feel scary and produce a great deal of grief and suffering.

I see why this happens. Whether we’ve decided to let something go, or it has been taken from us against our wishes, the familiar pressures, patterns, and ups and downs of routine are exchanged for the unfamiliar, the uncertain, and the unknown, stretching out before us.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.”

I don’t believe that.

True, when you let go of something familiar—even if it is a negative or pressure-filled situation like a toxic job or unhealthy relationship—it feels uncomfortable and strange. You may find that you long for what you left behind.

I remember feeling that way after leaving a job that I realized was unhealthy for my mind, body, and spirit. When I finally gave my notice, I felt wistful for the very situation that had driven me to leave voluntarily! For a while, I questioned whether I’d made the right decision. Maybe the job wasn’t so bad after all?

That feeling eventually passed and now I know it was the best decision I ever made.

I notice that when someone is toying with the idea of voluntarily creating an ending in their life, the emotions associated with the anticipation of the event are overwhelming.

I believe that the trick is to lean in to that emotion, rather than run from it or think of it as a clue you are on the wrong path.

When you are afraid to do something, just feeling your pulse quicken as you think about it means you are on the right track. Your pulse quickening reminds you that you are alive—that you have choices and you can make your own path in the world.

If you have been sitting on the fence about taking a stand for yourself, moving in a direction that makes you feel terrifically scared and also absolutely alive, I challenge you to lean in to it, to look as an observer at the visceral reaction you are having and see it for what it is – a fleeting emotion.

The key, I find, is to not be swayed by our emotions, but rather to acknowledge them – fear, anger, sadness, etc. – when they arise, and know that with patience and presence, they will subside. Emotions are not something to be avoided at all costs; rather they are evidence of our inner critic, the protective mechanism that wants things to stay the status quo, rising up to quell any rebellion or act of movement on your part.

The opportunity is to breathe through the emotion, see it for what it is, and don’t let it deter you from the decisions you need to make to craft a better life for yourself.

If you find yourself in a pattern of considering and reconsidering the same possible paths over and over again and never acting on it, I invite you to notice that—breathe–and then take a step forward, through the emotion, to the other side.

When a door closes, a window opens. I have seen that again and again in life, in my clients’ experiences, and in my own.

Being fired doesn’t mean the end of the line for you; it is the start of a new–and with attention and focus–better chapter in your life. Leaving a toxic job voluntarily to fully embrace a job search can be the best option when showing up to your job every day has been killing you inside, slowly.

I’m wondering: what is one thing you are craving but shy away from because of the strong emotions you experience when you even consider it?

There is a clue in there to what is next for you—if you choose to see it, and breathe.

Photo credit: Mr. Greenjeans via flickr cc

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