ONCE YOU KNOW WHY YOU WANT TO TAKE THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED, HERE ARE SOME HELPFUL TOOLS TO PACK TO KEEP YOU FOCUSED ON YOUR NEW ADVENTURE.
For many of us, negative self-talk comes up when we’re afraid of failing on this new path. This is where a map to your destination can come in handy – the directions could be written by someone else who’s already done what you’d like to do, so you can simply follow their lead, or the map could feature cues from your past when you’ve tried something and succeeded, says Dunn. “Even if it’s in a different area of life – it’s all transferable,” she explains.
SWISS ARMY KNIFE
It’s important to learn to symbolically cut the ties to any thoughts that are pulling you away from your destination. “A mind fulness-based approach is just to see those thoughts and not engage with them. Thoughts aren’t facts, but we tend to believe them and give them great
weight. Thoughts then create anxious feelings and stress or anxiety responses in our body, and our default response is to avoid that discomfort or to interpret it as something dangerous when possibly it’s not,” Dunn says. “If we can ‘unhook’ from the negative thoughts and move our awareness to feelings and bodily sensations, we can then do something helpful to calm our nerves and keep moving forward without letting the stories in our head exacerbate those fears.”
Once you’re on the road and the feeling of fear comes up, define what it is you’re afraid of and write it down. “For some people, the fear of failure prevents them from ever trying anything new, so it’s helpful to remember that it’s only in trying and failing that we have the opportunity to grow. And sometimes, the fear of success is just as debilitating (for example, I’ll outgrow my friends or family; I’ll get unwanted attention), so it’s
important to understand what subconscious beliefs might be holding you back. Sometimes just articulating those fears takes a lot of the charge out of them,” says Dunn.
You wouldn’t let a bit of rain stop you from ever stepping outside, right? No, you’d open an umbrella and brave the elements. So don’t let nerves stop you from going on your new adventure – find whatever it is you need to offer some assurance, then know that you’ll be okay even if things don’t work out as you planned and keep on walking. “It’s important to understand that waiting for fear to pass before taking action could mean you wait forever and never step outside your comfort zone,” Dunn says. “The goal should be to learn to tolerate some anxiety or discomfort and move forward regardless. If we keep avoiding things until the fear goes, the fear often grows stronger and we stay stagnant and miss all those amazing opportunities for growth.”