Fear can definitely postpone you taking the leap into a big life change, as Erin Kintzing shared in last week’s post Quitting my Corporate Job: The Ultimate Act of Self-Care. In Erin’s case, she knew she wanted to leave for two and a half years before she was ready to pack it up and walk away.
It is human nature to cling to the status quo when life is working “well enough.” It’s normal to try to preserve your sense of safety, especially if you’re doing what society validates as the right choice. It’s natural to hang on to what you know, even when life could be so much better if you dared to take a risk and make a big shift.
From the biological perspective, this need for safety and stability is very firmly rooted in your own survival programming. Steve Porges, author of The Polyvagal Theory, states “by processing information from the environment through the senses, the nervous system continually evaluates risk. I have coined the term neuroception to describe how neural circuits distinguish whether situations or people are safe, dangerous, or life-threatening” (P. 11).
According to Porges’ perspective, this quarter-decade Pause that Erin took very well might have been completely unconscious: “Because of our heritage as a species, neuroception takes place in primitive parts of the brain, without our conscious awareness” (P. 11). In other words, you are being driven by survival cues way below your prefrontal cortex or ‘thinking mind’. You will likely not be able to make a big life change until you have wired yourself, on a neurological level, to feel safe enough to do so.
Erin noted that it was during the Level 1 Yoga Tune Up® training where she experienced a whole new set of feelings that gave her the insight that it was time to move on. I reached out to her to find out which exact self-care practices she felt most useful, and her response made so much sense from the neurological perspective. I’m going to share them with you below to help you access the safety, centeredness and courage to approach your own big life changes.
1. Get Grounded by Massaging the Soles of Your Feet
Rolling out the soles of your feet on Roll Model Method therapy balls, as Erin recommends, is a powerful way to engender feelings of groundedness and stability. Not only are you sensing your feet, you are awakening your proprioceptors (sensory receptors that tell you where you are in space) in the soles of your feet to receive even greater sensation there — and feel even more grounded.
2. Get Centered with Core Work
Core strength often has a direct correlation to core confidence. Erin reported that several of the core practices in the Level 1 training helped prepare her for this life change. Particularly she noted the Revolved Abdominal Pose. This dynamic twisting pose activates a variety of abdominal muscles from the obliques to the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, rotators of the spine and more.
3. Build Courage with Meditation
Meditation and mindset practices may be the most powerful of all when it comes to preparing for big life change. By practicing sitting still and “being with what is” you can increase your range of resilience to be present during the ups and downs that come your way.
By focusing on your heart and what you really want to do/achieve/create/feel, you can forge new possibilities in your unconscious mind. Even though meditation seems like such a simple and withdrawn practice, it can help you build the courage to take massive action in the outer world.
Ghandi was famous for saying that on days he had extra big challenges to take on, he had to meditate twice as long.
Big Change is in Your Nature
A significant aspect of Erin’s story is her observation of how in the cafe on the way home after the training, she had a whole new set of feelings that she didn’t want to lose. She felt calm. She felt connected. She felt content. She started entertaining the possibility that this could be her new reality, or as we say in Yoga Tune Up, her “new normal”.
When your feelings start to shift like this, you know you’ve reconditioned your body and mind to step into your next big change. It is certainly part of your evolutionary wiring to avoid risk and change at times. But it is also essentially your nature to evolve.
At this point in Erin’s story, I am reminded of the Anaïs Nin quote, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Upon checking in with Erin, she shared how she’s continued with this work every day. “Over time, I have woven these three practices into my morning routine. They set my day up in an intentional way. They have helped me to hear the voice of my inner wisdom, the one I know is inherently me and the one I can trust. This practice has also helped me to be patient with myself – if I don’t feel ready to make the decision, I wait. Now I am more able to be still and listen, and to take action when it feels right.”
As you employ these practices, what seemed like a big scary change will likely reduce in size. If you’re lucky, it might even transform into a positive feeling challenge: An opportunity to become even more truly yourself and pursue the life path you are truly called to follow.
Pour beaucoup d’entre nous, notre réflexe de base est de chercher la stabilité et la sécurité, ce qui nous amène à souvent nous contenter du statu quo. Bien que le contentement soit une grande vertu en soi, oser se dépasser ou sortir de notre zone de confort permet la croissance personnelle et la guérison. Comme nous l’explique bien cet article, se sentir solide et ancré, en contrôle de son corps et de sa santé physique et émotionnelle, et avoir de bons outils pour se responsabiliser, permet d’avoir la confiance pour faire un pas en avant vers une vie meilleure et plus épanouie.
Grounding yourself with foot work
Anchoring in your core
Wow , I love this !
Thanks for sharing
I’m so thankful for this article, as it is exactly what I needed lately, while I’m balancing between the craving desire to do some major changes in my life and the fear of it.
I was starting to think that maybe this «fear» was there for a reason and I should listen to it … well what you just said made a lot of sense:
« you are being driven by survival cues way below your prefrontal cortex or ‘thinking mind’. You will likely not be able to make a big life change until you have wired yourself, on a neurological level, to feel safe enough to do so.»
I know I’ve got some work to do, but I can see since the YTU TT I’m on the right track because just like you I had the exact same feeling…A whole new set of feelings I didn’t want to lose.
I will certainly add to my daily routine some of your tips like getting centered with core work and building courage with meditation (funny thing; these last months have been so unstable, I had the innate desire to roll my feet at least once a day. It makes sense now that I know massaging the sole cultivate the feeling of stability and grounding)
I spent 5 years wanting to leave my corporate career. Waiting until I was 45 to retire as a VP of a Fortune 500 company and go to India to study yoga. Went through the process of just staying was becoming more painful than taking the risk to leave. Friends asking me, “Aren’t you afraid?”. Yes, but not as afraid as I was of staying and losing myself. Women need to share this stuff. Thanks.
I def needed to read this. Very interesting insights on risk-assessment by Porges. I feel that my life is also at a point where I need to make a big change. I feel very similarly to Erin during her YTU teacher training (I just did mine last month). Even the Revolved Abdominal Pose was a tricky move for me in getting my mind to activate the muscles needed to perform the move, but with supportive teachers and some practice, I was able to face the challenge. Beautiful closing quote from Anaïs Nin.
Thank you for sharing. In our world of performance, drive, multitasking and social media, I am blessed to have stumbled into yoga. Presently taking a tt yoga certification course. As overwhelmed as I am with the vastness of this practice and culture, I am inspired to the bone taking life one day at the times as well as being in the now. So nice not to be completing with others, but to be -hollistically- in communication with oneself. A gratitude for life.
Loved this idea of finding strength from a neurological perspective. Allow the intention to transform form the inside out!
I felt the same way…
Wow! You put in words a lot of my feelings, thanks you a lot. Is great to know that we are not alone in this change, evolution, adventure.
Those are great tips that I will certainly apply from now on. As I’m taking an other pathway in my career and feeling lots of insecurity about how I’m going to be able to teach everything I’ve learned in all trainings I took the past years, it is surely more then welcome to have those kind of tips.
I love this quote by Anais Nin. It calls to mind the famous quote by Marianne Williamson “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure”. As someone who left her full-time corporate job at the height of professional success, I totally related to Erin’s blog post and appreciated these 3 practices to stay rooted in your personal power and truth. This idea of need to be safe before taking a leap like this resonated deeply, however, and calls to mind Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Once our basic needs are met, we tend to have more subtle and higher functioning needs. We feel safe enough to want more from our lives. There is such a confusing line between going after a selfish, ego-driven or ambitious goal and between following your true North, living into your dharma or listening to a deep calling for your purpose. It’s subtle work and takes a certain amount of quiet and solitude (the kind in ample abundance at a place like Kripalu where Erin did her training). Recreating this sense of inner peace through the ball work on the feet, centering into your physical inner core and seated meditation is so simple – not easy – but so achievable and accessible. In this way these practices begin to serve you rather than you serving the practice. And the fuel from that work can be a guide towards both empowering yourself to feel more grounded and safe (to make better life decisions) and also to be still enough to listen to what you are actually feeling rather than just numbing out or avoiding what is. Thank you for sharing!
Such a wonderful message and reminder, and so inspiring! I love how you related core strength directly to core confidence and meditation with courage. I am looking forward to making all three practices part of my daily routine as well! Thank you!
These are great ideas. I often find that my personal sense of safety and confidence increases when I do more core work and feel that support from the inside out.
I just started my Level 1 Yoga Tune Up certification today and I loved the Santosha practice today and the reminder to be mindful in this work and create with intention. My biggest obstacle is fear and I said that I want to be remembered as being brave so this post is timely! I can’t wait to do the core/ 3rd chakra work as well as the foot rolling. Grounding work is always my starting point when I want to build up to strengthen my courage!
I love how these practices highlight what physical, embodied beings we are. I’m in the midst of making a big career change toward yoga and mindfulness work, and my tendency is to get very in my head about it, calculating and plotting. While thinking is a necessary component of decision making, it is much less important than our society tends to make it. I watch my infant son live so fully in his body and notice how much age and socialization pulls us away from that. Accessing intuition is so much about grounding and centering through the body. Thanks for the reminder!
Saving Your Back from Golf
I love this idea of laterally extending and flexing the spin dynamically and passively. It makes it very accessible. I have a client who is an overweight golfer, this supine exercise seems like it would work well for him rather than standing lateral movement for any length of time.
Release Your Shins
Release Your Feet
Many of my private clients have issues with cramping or seizing in the top of the foot during extension in Virasana or resting in child’s pose. It seems to be very sensitive and cause a lot of discomfort. I am curious to see if this practice helps, Specifically my tri-athlete.
3 Practices For Preparing for Big Life Change
So helpful! This blog validated everything I am feeling while on the precipice of a life shift. Without realizing it, I have been working on standing postures and core – shifting my previous perception of spinal flexion. I have been attending to the posterior chain to strengthen and develop awareness of my back body. Not only physically but emotionally as well. Realizing & remembering the universe has by back. I have re-established my pranayama and meditation practice and am working on making it a daily sadhana.
This is so helpful! Thank you for sharing. Wow, yes! These are great tools for grounding, centering and getting clear with what you want and transforming that into a creative and inspiring process instead of running an old fear pattern. I love how you mentioned that it takes courage to meditate. Yes, I agree. We need to feel enough worth to sit and be held in the space to reflect without judgment so another part of our awareness can come forward! And I love how you connected the body and mind in what makes healthy change.. when you’ve reconditioned your body and mind through movement and therapy fitness and meditation, your feelings change! This is how our nature evolves! When we face our fears, we see that they’re not as scary or fearful and anything is truly possible.
I just finished my training and had similar feelings. Its very easy to get swept up in the chaos when you get home.
Thank you for this! I’ve been feeling stuck, and like I’m ready for my next big change. I don’t know what it is, but my status quo isn’t working. I must and finally i’m ready. This article was helpful. In gratitude….
Thank you for sharing these tips – super useful!
Love this post! I have been struggling with life change and what society expects of us: have a career, have a job, have a husband, make money, etc. What if none of that is my life journey? Why am I afraid to take the path less traveled? Yes, it all boils down to how it is so much safer, but ultimately more painful to remain tight in that bud, rather than to allow myself to open up and blossom.
This info was an great reminder on how to stay centered and physiologically how fear of change can be debilitating and take over ones thoughts. I remember feeling this change after taking the class as well, and have admittedly slipped back into old routines. Its hard to change and frustrating, but being patient and acceptant of change is necessary to live.
Really enjoyed this article! I just finished my level one YTU training. The point on meditation building courage resonated with me. I am going to start trying the foot massage daily.
Thank you creating this. I share these concepts with my clients on a regular basis. I now have an even lovelier way to express the information.
I had never heard that Anais Nin quote before but I have definitely felt that feeling and reminded others that it exists. I think my own experience has been that when you are hesitant to take the risk, if you just wait a little there will come a time when not taking it becomes unacceptable to yourself and that is the time to act. There are limits, of course, and avoiding doing things that frighten you doesn’t work either, but I think many times to listen to that voice that says to wait so you can ripen for the right time to act can be so positive because then when you do go for it there is less fear and less regret if it doesn’t work out how you hoped.