Reveal the Unmet Needs Behind Your Fears
No matter how great the change is we are seeking to make, there is always some amalgam of fear involved. This is because the undefined, unfamiliar, unpredictable unknown is vata embodied. In fact, any transition is a vata dominated process, and signs of vata imbalance (excess vata) are common.
Oftentimes, we ignore the valuable message in our fears and focus on criticizing ourselves for not being “tough” enough to make the change. All feelings reveal unmet needs within us. If we can engage in a healthy exploration of our fears, we can use them to come up with a strong list of exactly what we need to support ourselves through the process.
For example, I’d been putting off buying a house because I felt too scared of the financial commitment. Once I explored that fear, I understood that I had a need for 6 months living expenses in savings to feel more secure in that transition. This clarity allowed me to set a clear goal to move forward in my home-buying process, and this allowed me to feel more supported and aligned. Without addressing and exploring the unmet need my fear was revealing, I felt like I just needed to “pull the trigger” on buying, which led to inaction because I was with mixed feelings (a vata state of incongruence).
Change is not about “toughening up” and moving past your fears; it’s about bringing in more support to address them.
STEP 1: Acknowledge your fears (a simple list is fine) and explore:What need do I have that this fear is making me aware of? What would make me feel most comfortable in making this change? What would help to assuage the fears in this transition (not eliminate them, because fear is a part of the process)?
STEP 2: Come up with a clear list of how to meet those needs, aka how to best support yourself through this change.
This is great to do with a loved one, or coach, or therapist. Since fear and transition are vata energetics, the more support you have and the more grounded you are in a personal plan for that change, the more you balance vata and move through the transition gracefully.
Fire Ceremony to Ritualize the Transition
I personally find fire ceremony to be surprisingly helpful in releasing the old and welcoming in the new, and several of my clients have reported powerful effects as well. Fire is a transformative force and pitta energy embodies this. Fire transforms the wood and air into light and heat energy and smoke. Similarly, we offer into the fire a symbol of what we’d like to transform, and receive the products of the transformation (light, warmth, smoke) as a symbol of what we are looking to change into. It’s a ritual to represent the transformation on a subtle energetic level in our physical world.
Overcome the Inertia with Clear Intent and a Plan of Action
So we don’t want to ignore our fears, but we don’t want to let them drive our decision making either. We also have a tendency to be so aware of the fears, that we make fear-based choices. From this place, we avoid change. We stay in unhealthy jobs or relationships, or patterns. The fear is important only in that it is a messenger. Again, if you can come to what unmet needs are underlying those fears, you can let those needs drive how you make decisions.
More importantly, where you set your attention is going to determine what you attract in your life. So if the feared scenario is ever-present in your mind, you are aligning yourself with that being your reality. Shifting our attention from the fear to the plan-of-action-to-meet-your-
The other facet of vata, related to fear, that keeps us stuck is overwhelm. Other times it’s more of a kaphic stuck where we are fuzzy and unclear about what to do or how to bring about the change, and thus do nothing.
Either way, having clarity of intention is key, as is a clear plan of action. Both are vata and kapha balancing, and thus balance overwhelmed-and-unsure-so-
STEP 4: Keep it simple and keep it clear. Define your goal in one sentence. Define a maximum of 3-5 next steps. Define sub steps and details for each of those. This is where you start. The rest will come to you in due time.
Lean In to the Feelings of the Desired Change
Change doesn’t always come about in one fell swoop. What I see more often are cycles of release and manifestation, and phases of shifting towards our intention. How the change happens is what you surrender. This means you have a clear plan of how, only to get you started aligning your actions with your intention. The plan of action you create is just a tool to support you through initiating the change, stepping up and indicating your readiness for the change. However, when your planned approach requires a shift, you surrender to that, understanding you are being gently guided (or not so gently) through the change in the way it needs to best support your spiritual growth. The plan of action is just a first step in “leaning in” toward the desired change.
Watch for the signs in your life. What you are naturally attracted to and repelled by. Conversations, people, dreams, ideas, spirit animals (you get the picture)–anything that feels more like how you wish to feel after this change has happened. In fact, a great exercise is to imagine yourself after the desired change.
STEP 5: Make a list of how you feel in this visualization. (Visualizing is also a powerful tool invoking the law of attraction.) Use this list as a guide to where you lean in.
Any experience in your life that invokes these same feelings is where you want to lean in, center your attention and spend the majority of your time, energy, and resources. Anything that feels more on the side of the desired change, we respond to in a timely manner, and as a priority.
Show Up! Align your Words and Actions with your Intention
Once you have how to best support yourself, a clear intention and a simple starting plan of action, you’ve laid a great foundation towards attracting your desired change. In fact, it’s quite likely that during the process of taking all of the steps above, you’ve already started to shift things in the right direction.
STEP 6: If you are still stuck, start taking practice steps. Take the steps as if you were really making the change, as practice until you are ready to take real steps. For example, I recently assigned a client to apply to 10 jobs outside of her specialty area for the sake of experiencing action that was consistent with her intention of finding a new job. Because these were just jobs that seemed fun to her, and not where she really thought she would find a job, the exercise was light and more playful. In the process, she practiced tailoring her resume, got faster at writing cover letters, started a tracking system to monitor her follow up, etc. She created all of the tools and practiced, so she felt very unintimidated when it came time to apply for jobs in her specialty.
Affirmations, or rather new thought patterns, are a great first step at alignment as well. As you’ve already identified your feared perspectives, use these to identify healthy new thought patterns to replace them. This is not an exercise in denial. It’s a practice of shifting a fear based thought pattern to a more empowered thought pattern. For example:
Fear/victim perspective: I’m fat and Iosing weight is so hard for me.
Empowered perspective: I’m working towards my happy place with my weight and I’m open to experiencing ease in that process.
STEP 7: Starting to align your words and actions is well supported by also aligning your internal dialogue. So every time that fear-based perspective speaks in your mind, you stop it, and replace it by saying your empowered perspective (out loud is great).