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New beginnings and how to embrace them

opening curtains

As humans our lives are shaped and punctuated by all sorts of new beginnings, whether that's the start of a new academic term, a new job or relationship. Other monumental changes in life can be marriage, divorce, parenthood, and becoming an 'empty nester' when your children set off for university or move out.

While it can be refreshing to embark on new chapters of sorts (who doesn't remember the fresh new notepad of a new term or new job, a new timetable full of possibilities, new people to meet) sometimes it can also feel daunting and not without some anxiety.

We often associate certain times of the year with new beginnings - January an obvious one but also September with the start of the academic year (whether you're a student, a grad or a parent!)

Of course, you can't hold back the calendar of life, so some changes in life are thrust upon us - but some people actively seek change out, and many more do everything in their power to avoid it.

If you're someone who finds it difficult to move forward following change, here are a few ways you can learn to embrace it rather than fear it.

Letting go of the past
As counsellors, we know all too well how much the past can shape us. But, as we often tell the people we work with, the past does not determine your future and it does not define who you become.

Before we can embrace new beginnings, we need to be able to accept the past, understand its impact on the present and navigate a way forward - learning that's what is done is done and cannot be 'edited' to undo mistakes or bad experiences. What you can do is to learn from what has gone before and try to make good decisions for yourself going forward. Therapy can help with this if it feels like too big a thing to tackle alone.

Create new goals
New chapters deserve new goals or aspirations. Take some time to reflect on what you want from life - whether that's your personal health and happiness, career goals, finances. This can help you take steps towards achieving them and make you feel more in control of life.

Say yes to new opportunities!
Sometimes new opportunities are obvious but sometimes you need to actively seek them out. If you realise your work environment is no longer ticking boxes for you - whether it's no longer stimulating or rewarding, or perhaps it's actually having a negative impact on your mental health - why not use your networks to identify companies that might be a better fit?

Coaching can help you to get in the right head space to think about what is right for you. It can also help you to work on your confidence and approach so you feel ready to grab those new opportunities.

Try new things
Opportunities don't always have to be about work. Practise saying yes to other new things too - we're not talking about parachute jumping from a plane (unless you've always wanted to!), but going to new places, learning a new skill, accepting an invitation; these are all ways you can learn to be better at embracing new beginnings.

Have good people around you
The people in your life can be a source of great joy and comfort - but sometimes they are the exact opposite. Try to surround yourself with people who make you feel happy, who lift you up and cheer you on in life, not the ones who criticise or let you down.

Just like letting go of the past, sometimes it is better for your mental health to let go of people too. Again, a good counsellor can help you to make sense of this.

Making time by yourself count
So we all like quality time with friends and loved ones. But start making time alone quality too and you will reap the benefits emotionally and physically. From exercise to meditation, a hobby you enjoy, keeping a gratitude journal, or giving yourself permission to curl up on the sofa and do absolutely nothing, learning to feel comfortable in your own company is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your mental health (you can't out-run your own mind, as they say).

Some clients who I've worked with whose children have either gone to university or moved out have said that they don't know what to do with the extra time they have. A good thing to think about might be either reconnecting with an old interest or starting a new one.  Something that gets you engaged with an interest your passionate about or with a group of like-minded people can be a great way of filling time with new things.
Finding a balance between your own time and time spent with others is really important. That balance might look quite different for each of us, so listen to how you feel - if you feel like you need to make a change, think about building in that change slowly so that you can find the right level for you.

A final word on change...
Not all of our plans always work out exactly the way we think they will, or want them to. Some people may view this as failure, which can lead to negative feelings and emotions. It's important to remember that every time we try something new there is a certain degree of risk, as there is the chance for reward. 

Taking a break once the dust has settled a little can be a great way of giving yourself time and space to consider all the opportunities that maybe open to you, or allow you the time to reassess where you are and where you might want to make changes to start this new stage in life. It can also be a great opportunity to just recharge after what might have been a really stressful time for you.

Mark Hodson MBACP has been a counsellor with LionHeart since 2018. He uses an integrative counselling approach to work with RICS professionals and their partners facing a range of issues in their home or working lives.

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