This is a picture of my Grandma and me just before I left on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This was one of the times I remember really struggling with a transition to something new. The day I entered the Missionary Training Center, I thought I felt good, but looking back I realize I just didn’t feel bad. I actually didn’t feel anything. Feeling nothing was better than feeling scared, right?
That first night all of the new missionaries came together for a special meeting with the Mission President. The closing song was “Lord, I Would Follow Thee”. During the hymn I started crying, which was fine until I realized it was becoming uncontrollable. I was in the second row to the front, right where I felt like everyone sitting at the front of the meeting could see me. As we were dismissed, I hurried into the hall, but I wasn’t alone. The Mission President’s wife followed me and hurried me into the first door she could find, which happened to be the custodial closet. She put her arm around me and asked, “Is everything in your life in order?” I was mortified. She thought I was crying because I had done something that I needed to repent of. I don’t blame her. Why else would I be crying so uncontrollably in a public place?
What I didn’t know then, but that I know now, is that big transitions are really hard for me because I have a lot of practiced thoughts about doing new things. I think thoughts such as: I should know how to do this; Mistakes are bad; Everyone else knows what they’re doing; Others won’t like me if I do this wrong; I’m the only one that doesn’t know what’s going on; I have to do this right.
I’ve never really even articulated those thoughts as what causes my pain. But when I write them down, I can see why they would create so much fear. Thoughts I’m practicing now during transitions are: I don’t need to know how to do this yet, that’s what I’m figuring out; If I already knew how to do this, I would have already done it; Everyone has to figure this out for themselves; No one is born knowing how to do this; I’m willing to do it wrong; There’s probably someone else who would benefit by me asking a question or getting clarification. If you’re struggling through something new, notice what you’re thinking, and try on some of these thoughts.
If you would like some one-on-one help, sign-up for a free coaching session with me. I’ll help you understand what’s so hard, and how to help yourself through it.