Q. I’m unhappy in my current job but am afraid of finding a new one. How can I get over this fear? -Sherry, San Francisco, CA
A. Fear is one of the most destructive emotions we experience as human beings and usually leads us to make the worst choices or paralyzes us so we get stuck in situations that no longer serve us. I always tell my clients, ‘If you are afraid of the dark (unknown), turn on the lights!’ Begin by writing down the specific fears you have about finding a new job. Are you afraid of change? Of the effort it takes to search? Dealing with new people? Once you have identified the fears, come up with one thing you could do for each to address the challenge it presents. For example, just thinking about the search for a new job can be overwhelming, but if you start devising a step-by-step plan (list of jobs I would like to do, places to look, how much money I need to make, list of search options, etc.) it suddenly becomes a more manageable endeavor rather than a floating blob of fear. In terms of incentive to make the change, keep reminding yourself that every day counts and there is no need to settle with doing something that makes you unhappy 8 hours of each precious day when you have the ability to create something better.
Q. I am 38 and I’ve been married to my husband since I was 23. I feel my desire to be married and my sense of being content with my life dwindling. Is this normal?
A. First, let me assure you that what you are feeling is totally normal. I can’t tell you how many women I work with who find themselves ‘waking up’ as they approach 40 and wondering how they got there – ‘there’ being the reality of their current life. Unfortunately, as young girls, we are socialized to disconnect from our own wants, desires and feelings in exchange for pleasing everyone around us. By the time we are in our 20’s many of us have become so disconnected from our authentic selves that we almost robotically do what is expected of us (find a mate, get married, have children, etc.) rather than making decisions that originate and are fueled by the truest part of ourselves. In essence, we have slipped into what I call a ‘protective coma’ that most of us remain in until we begin to approach 40.
This does not mean that you have to walk away from the life you have created. However, it very likely means that you need to have clear lines of communication with your husband about what you are going through and the importance of having space to reconnect with yourself and grow authentically from this point forward. If you don’t communicate with him, he will fill in the blanks on his own, assume the worst and either withdraw or become defensive – neither of which will provide the support you need. Couples often need support with this process, so finding a good relationship therapist, someone who understands this important time on your journey and can help your husband to understand and support you is something you may want to consider. Finally, I highly recommend that you connect with other women who are going through the same experience and a few who are slightly ahead on the path, who can provide a little guidance and reassurance.
Q. Why is a woman’s period sometimes referred to as a moon cycle?
A. In ancient goddess/matriarchal cultures and even today among many indigenous peoples who revere the feminine, a woman’s monthly cycle is often called her ‘moon cycle’ – and for very good reason. It was recognized long ago that just as a lunar cycle is 28 days, so, too, is the average woman’s menstrual cycle. Although we tend to focus exclusively on a 5-7 day ‘period’ our body actually moves through a full cycle made up of a series of hormonal changes (estrogen and progesterone levels rising and falling) that affect every aspect of our being, over the course of 28 days. Just as the moon waxes and wanes, so does the female body. Knowing this and becoming in tune with these cyclic changes and how they directly affect the way you perceive and experience the world is tremendously empowering for women. After all, the moon creates tides. Imagine what you have the power to do!