blog Warning! Unknown territory ahead!

Warning! Unknown territory ahead!

Warning Unknown Territory Ahead

How to get back on the driver’s seat when change takes you off course.

My twin daughters are high school juniors. Our family of four is dancing — or should I say spinning — to the tune of change these days. Not that change is new to us.

These girls have been changing our lives since they took their first breath and even before that. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The day I had my first ultrasound the doctor pointed to the screen and said, “Here’s one head and . . . here’s the second. Congratulations! You’re having twins!” 

My husband jumped up. He couldn’t contain his excitement. He was over the moon. If he had any cigars on him, he would have passed them around. 

I remember getting dressed and excusing myself for a few minutes. I walked into the bathroom – the only place where I could be alone. I stood there for a few minutes, trying to comprehend what had just happened.

I kept breathing, trying to untangle the web of emotions I was flooded with. I was feeling ecstatic, terrified, and everything in between. There was this huge neon sign flashing in my head: Warning! Unknown territory ahead!

At this point, you’d be right to ask, “Well, what did you expect? You were pregnant, right?” 

I know but, you see, I was thinking in terms of ONE child. I thought I could handle one, but twins?? A whole new ball game.

I was a corporate executive working an average of 50-60 hours a week. I had worked hard to get where I was and I liked it. 

My husband and I had no family living near us. We had been married for twelve years and our relationship was strong. We were now given the chance to really see what we were made of. Fasten your seat belts!

When was the last time change brought you to a standstill?

I’m talking CHANGE as in life happens, good or bad, wanted or unwanted, planned or unplanned, it really doesn’t matter. Change comes, broadsides us out of the blue, and before we even realize what happened, we’re airborne.

You know what’s unfortunate?

We’ve bought into the myth that, getting what we want in life, will make us happy and we won’t have to go through adjustment.

We forget that . . .

Humans are creatures of habit and routine. The slightest change can throw us off. Don’t believe me? Just watch what happens when you rearrange the furniture, or your favorite product is reformulated. OR, how the people around you respond to last minute plan changes. 

Have you noticed what happens at the slightest hint that Facebook is introducing changes? You get my drift.

How can you take care of yourself as you adjust to the changes in your life?

Allow yourself to feel the way you feel. Don’t doubt or discount your feelings just because you think you should feel differently. If that’s too touchy feely for you . . . let me say it differently.

Be who you are in the moment. Stop looking at yourself in the mirror and shaking your head in disbelief. Instead, look at yourself in the mirror and say something encouraging. Remind yourself that this is just an adjustment period. You’ll figure it out in time.

Speaking of which . . .

Time is your friend. Don’t rush it. Be patient with yourself.

Don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself. Transitions are for learning how to do things differently. You need time to figure out the new landscape of your life. Be gentle and kind with yourself.

Surround yourself with people who can give you the support you need without judging you or pressuring you to be who you cannot be right now. 

If you need to be alone, make time to be alone. Create space for yourself. Read a book, listen to your favorite music, meditate, write in your journal, spend time in nature.

Take good care of yourself. Adjusting to change may seem slow and tedious but pretty soon you’ll be up and running again. You’ll need your health and stamina.

Most importantly . . .

Be very wary of the voice of dissent in your head. You know what I’m talking about. That little voice with a big punch that whispers to you every time you try to do something differently or take a risk.

”What do you mean you want to do such and such? Are you kidding me? That’s not for you! Give it up!”

You don’t have to believe everything this voice tells you. It usually comes from a place of fear anyway.

Answer back. “I know you’re trying to protect me but you’re not helping. You’re holding me back and I need to do this. I can take care of myself.”

Don’t engage in a lengthy conversation. The voice of dissent is stubborn and needy. Don’t feed it. Let it be and move on.

What is your relationships with change? How have you handled big changes in the past?

I invite you to leave a comment below and share your experience and wisdom with us. We can all learn from each other.

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Yota Schneider

Yota is a mentor, teacher, and retreat leader who helps people navigate life’s inevitable changes mindfully and intentionally. Her approach is deeply influenced by her cultural roots, work and life experience, and her long-term practice of mindfulness meditation.
In addition to her work with individual clients, Yota speaks and writes on mindful living, overcoming self-doubt, and the art of letting go.
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13 thoughts on “Warning! Unknown territory ahead!

  1. “Humans are creatures of habit and routine.” If only that weren’t true, Yota!

    Forget about major changes, even the slightest change throws us for a loop. I think one reason might be a feeling of loss of security. When change occurs and my routines are broken, I tend to feel insecure – somewhat out of control. Then I proclaim, “I want my old life back!” 😉

    I moved from California to Arizona last summer and I’m still experiencing the effects of change. I’m still adjusting to my new environment — and resisting the adjustments every step of the way. After residing somewhere for 30 years, it’s not easy to acclimate quickly. I guess that just means I’m human.

    Wonderful post! Love your advice. 🙂

    1. Thirty years is a long time. It only makes sense that you’d still feel the effects of the move. One day at a time and before you know it, Arizona will be home. And, yes, you’re human and a beautiful and wise one at that:-)
      I like the point you make about the loss of control and feeling insecure. I often wonder when it comes to habits and routines. Who is in control of whom? Am I in control of my habits or the other way around?
      Thank you for stopping by, Melanie. Always great to hear your point of view. xoxo

  2. ” I often wonder when it comes to habits and routines. Who is in control of whom?” That, Yota, is the $65,000 question! And I think I know the answer. 😉

  3. Such gems here, Yota! So many great ideas to think about here. Some ideas that are resonating:

    Fear and resistance are often first reactions to change. That’s normal. Honor the feelings, but don’t let them prevent you from moving forward.

    Listen to your needs during changing times. There are no “shoulds.” Be patient as you work through being uncomfortable and unsure.

    For me, when I’ve experienced big changes, I try as best as possible to stay open to different. I remind myself that things are shifting, that transitions aren’t so easy for me, but that I’ve always found a way to navigate and grow despite the fear, despite the challenges, despite the uncertainty. I look for the possibilities of what might be. I view change as an opportunity, even when sometimes I’d really rather things just remain as they are.

    It’s a delicate mix between embracing change “full on,” and permitting some things to stay put.

    1. Hi Linda,
      Thank you for stopping by. Yes, fear and resistance are more often than not the first responses to change.
      When we “sit” with these feelings and accept their presence without caving in, their edge softens.
      I loved reading about your response to change. I’m curious . . . Were you always like this or did experience with change transformed your approach? OR, is it both?

  4. What a great post! I love the idea of giving yourself time to adjust. It’s so unnatural for us to give change time to sink in, but that’s when change becomes real and workable.

    1. Hi Ellen,
      Thank you for joining the conversation. You’re right . . . we get uncomfortable with sitting still and waiting for change to work itself out. And, of course, I don’t mean that we should just sit there and do nothing.
      Being with our discomfort, listening deeply to our inner guidance, and following our instincts when they tell us to move, isn’t “doing nothing.” It’s active participation and it takes strength and faith in ourselves and our life’s purpose.
      There’s a lot more to change than meets the eye:-)

  5. Yota- I definitely did NOT always feel positive about change. When I was younger and for much of my early adult life, change was an anxiety producer. But over time, I realized that good things always came about from change. So if I could relax a bit, understand that “in between” was going to feel odd and possibly uncomfortable, that it was worth it. The rumblings just were the indicator for growth and possibilities to come. But old feelings are deeply ingrained. So now when those nervous feelings appear, I can recognize them for what they are, and talk myself through the positive part of feeling them. And…it helps to remind myself to breathe, give self space to feel the transiton, and that things will be ok.

    1. Thank you Linda. You’re making a great point about the evolution of our relationship to change. Life experience does matter — as long as we’re willing to refer back to it.
      I also like your choice of words . . . rumblings, deeply ingrained, breathe, etc. These are “physical” words. How correct you are:-) Our body always finds a way to “talk” to us. Physical symptoms become guidance . . . all we have to do is listen.

  6. Wow! This is certainly a juicy and lively conversation — love it!

    You touched on something near and dear to my heart, Yota, and to my career of thirty years. I always instructed expectant moms in my childbirth classes to “listen to their bodies in labor because they always talk to us”. For example, if a woman’s body is telling her to sit up in labor, then by all means, sit up! Our bodies never lie to us. 🙂

    1. Thank you for joining us, Melanie. I love that you brought your experience with childbirth to us. Because guess what?? Going through transition and coming to the other side — where your brand new beginning is awaiting — is like giving birth or being born.

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