Before any Departure we often experience anxiety. What happens if I become sick while abroad? A flight delay means we’ll miss our connection. Our clothes look so American…maybe scammers will target us. Will my old dog still be around when I return?
It’s normal to feel apprehensive before any new endeavor, not just travel. Uncertainty causes our brain to churn out “second thoughts”: Maybe I shouldn’t have left my job. Will this next decade be as fruitful as the prior? Can I lead this organization effectively?
Fear becomes so loud that it takes over our psyche. We become the emotion, clouding judgement and perspective. Yet fear is a natural part of our journey
“It is said that if you boil down all your emotions to their most basic level there are really only two:
love and fear…Fear is a friend that shows up to tell us that it’s time to open our hearts again…” (-Roger Teel)
What’s the science of fear? In very simple terms, when faced with stress our brain’s Limbic system, known as our “emotional center”, is activated. The amygdala which is part of this area senses a threat. We “Fight or Flight”. Wanting to survive, we neglect our “thinking” brain, the prefrontal cortex. We allow our emotions, fears, to impair rational decision-making.
To allay fears and build resilience, we need to improve the communication between our limbic system and pre-frontal cortex, where are executive functioning part of the brain reside
How might we manage scary emotions for a smooth departure?
Being more mindful, “being aware” is a place to start. Moving from autopilot to aware, mindfulness, helps us increase the communication between what we feel and what we know. We can observe the emotion versus become it.
When we project into the future or look back on the past, fear grabs hold of us sometimes. Staying present grounds us, decreasing fear.
Using language to label an emotion (putting feelings into words) helps us understand the experience and then better manage the emotion. Labelling activates our pre-frontal cortex lessoning the response of the amygdala.
Practice Open Awareness Meditation
Imagine you’re on a train platform and every five minutes a train zooms by. Instead of jumping on-board each train, an Open-Awareness practices helps you see the trains going by without feeling the need to jump on-board. Monitored with kindness and curiosity, an open-awareness meditation builds an observing capacity.
Your thoughts are bubbles
“My thoughts are not the same as me.” Thoughts are temporary mental formations that come and go, like bubbles. Thoughts represent an experience at that moment, not who we are or the truth in a situation.
In any stressful moment we can say to ourselves:
“Breathing in I do my best; Breathing out I let go of the rest.“
Before Departure we have the power to choose and manage our emotions. Fear is not all bad. It shows us what we care about. Yet fear is only an experience. What happens after Departure is the journey!
Thank you @SammieChaffin for the photography!