My daughter is about to start secondary school so we’ve had a couple of chats about moving from a smaller environment to a larger school – that feeling of going into the unknown that sends us into a tailspin. We’ve all been there, not just through the educational years but every time we’ve had to start a new job, go on a course, attend a networking event, meeting a new boyfriend/girlfriend’s family for the first time, join a gym…
I’ve given talks in various schools addressing this issue – moving on and how to cope, or even better how to embrace it and thrive in your new environment. My key message is: you’ve done it before and survived! Most of us will have faced some kind of change at some point, even as very young children we’ll have been to toddler groups or music classes, activity clubs, nursery, started infant school and that ramps up as we get older with sports/dance/drama clubs, moving schools.
On the whole my daughter is pretty grounded but when I asked her how she felt about the move, she said she would probably cling on to the one other girl moving with her from her old school. I asked her why she wouldn’t approach other children and talk to them, and she replied that they would think she is weird.
And this is something many people feel – that they will come across to other people as odd, so they don’t want to push themselves forward. But turning it around, how do we view those people who do come forward, who approach us and start a conversation? Invariably we simply enter into the conversation witho
ut any thought as to whether they are weird or not, it is only as we start to get to know them through conversation that we form any opinions at all. The first approach is neutral (or more often, welcome, as it means we’re not standing on our own).
So, if we don’t think too much about other people, why do we overthink what they think of us?
It’s that inner voice we all have that wants to keep us safe, and by ‘safe’ it means not doing anything new, not challenging or pushing ourselves out there, because that inner voice isn’t interested in our happiness, all it cares about is our survival. And in principle that means doing exactly the same thing we did yesterday – after all whatever we did worked, we survived the day so we’re encouraged to repeat it again. This harks back to our cavemen and women ancestors, when change meant threat – and social threat is taken on board in the same way as physical threat by our rather primitive brains.
The next time you have to enter a new challenge, whether it’s going into a networking event or a meeting, or starting a new school, take a deep breath and tell your inner voice to stand down, it’s going to ok. Because not only have you done it before and survived, but you know you will enjoy the process and make contacts, some of whom may even become friends.
If you have a child who is worried about change, you can download this short animation explaining how the brain works and how they can get control of their thoughts to change their trepidation into confidence: http://bit.ly/2D7CLQc
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