Daring to go beyond the borders of the familiar and explored to charter new territories is an adventure that is as nerve-wrecking as it is beautiful.
We are talking about a story as ancient as humanity itself.
Our DNA warns us of dangers if we stray from the beaten path.
At the same time, our soul pushes us to become the trailblazers and lighthouses we are all meant to be.
Stepping into the unknown empty space my soul has been calling me into has been one of the most intense experiences of my life: The person I once was—and by “once” I mean even just a year ago—is almost a stranger to me. In the last six and a half years, change has been a constant in my life, its most visible expression being about a dozen moves which led me to live in three different continents. The process carried me from the firm childhood decision to never tie the knot to being happily married. My professional and financial situation changed, and changed, and then changed again. My body, diet and mindset transformed through veganism and a rigorous fitness regime.
By far, the last year has been the most intensely transformative time for me: I got married. I moved to another continent. Somehow, I found the courage within me to hand in my notice at a prestigious corporate job, a step which, for a long time, brought up intense levels of fear. I got certified in two potentially life-changing healing modalities and put a Dr. in front of my name. These are just some of the external changes the year brought for me.
And yet, the most important shifts have been hidden and interior. Many things which used to be difficult for me a few years ago, like expressing my feelings in front of trustworthy people, are not even an issue anymore. And others, such as being in an emotionally unsupportive friendship, do not work for me now.
At times, this drawn-out process has been incredibly intense, but riding the waves of transformation to my new life has been infinitely worth it. It takes time to change direction completely. Because I persevered, I am now ever closer to a beautiful harvest.
Here are some things I have learned along the way:
1. Whatever the transformation we are going through, we will almost certainly survive it. If we navigate this process consciously, we will likely even be better off as a result. It may seem as if our personality is changing beyond recognition which can feel threatening. And yet what I learned is that after every transformation, I am different and still myself. In fact, I am myself to a larger extent than before because what we leave behind in transformation is in many cases only our more inauthentic self.
2. A part of us is dying. Grieving for the old is part of the process. What I have always found helpful is finding a way to honor the transition that is happening. Before one of my smaller moves where I stayed within the same city, I sat down in a café in my old neighborhood and wrote down everything I cherished about my old place.
My last move to another continent required something bigger so my “goodbye ritual” consisted of me symbolically walking across a bridge. One side of the bridge represented the past I was leaving behind, the other side the future I was walking into. The bridge was in the middle of a lonely nowhere, the night was pitch dark with hardly any moonshine and it was one of the coldest and windiest days of winter. It was a situation that—like the transformation I was going through—required some courage. Braving the elements made me feel proud of myself and more confident about my ability to handle the upcoming change.
3. I have learned that one of our most primal needs is the need to feel secure, a need that is acutely threatened by all the changes. However, being afraid does not mean that we are actually in danger. It just means that we have a primal brain that is—thankfully—intent on ensuring our survival. Unless our physical survival is in acute danger, we should not let our primal brain run our lives. That is why I find reality checks important, such as asking ourselves how likely it is that something bad could happen to us as a result of the change we are going through. Another important question is what we would prefer to happen and how we can work toward making that happen.
4. Since our need to feel secure is compromised by the changes we are undergoing, I think it is important to stick with some things that give us comfort and a sense of stability. These can be different for everyone. For me, some of these things are drinking green tea in the morning or watching my favorite series. If we wanted to change our comfort-given habits, we would ideally wait until the waters of transformation had gotten sufficiently calm before doing so. In big transformations, I think it is easier when we keep some things the same.
5. The people who can likely understand us best are those who have been through this process before or are still in it. At various times in my process, I have found it helpful to talk to others who are also on a path of transformation and could encourage me along the way.
Witnessing this process in myself and in others, I am amazed at how much we can change and still experience the developmental pressure of our soul’s truth to change some more. It is beautiful to see what becomes possible when we allow this impulse to guide us towards our soul’s home. Entirely new roads open up for us and we discover things we never knew about ourselves.
When we give into the impulse of our divine nature and do so wisely, our act of daring can open us up to unprecedented levels of trust. Instead of free-falling, a parachute suddenly opens, seemingly out of nowhere. Carried by the winds, we glide through open space where Earth treats us to a breath-taking display of her beauty.
We can trust our transformation.
As Hilde Domin put it: “I set my foot upon the air and it carried me.”
Author: Bere Blissenbach
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Josh Felise/Unsplash