chAnge: Allow Yourself to Freak Out
Allow Yourself to Freak Out is the 4th in a series of 7 blog posts on managing your fear of change or transitions based on my C-H-A-N-G-E method.
In my blog post – “Why do we Fear Change if it is Just Part of Life” – I wrote about how the brain tries to control your fear of change. I also introduced you to the skills I encourage to help you manage that fear of change – these are my essential CHANGE skills. In this post I will discuss the third skill in the method. A – Allow Yourself to Freak Out
You likely know this feeling: something inside of you is trying to burst through, but it terrifies you. You do what you need to so it stays in its cell: eat chocolate, scrub grout, have an extra glass or two of wine. You may not want to acknowledge what that sensation is about, but I suspect you know. Listen to me: That sensation is making you want to freak out, and I’m here to tell you that that’s okay.
What Freaking out Is
It’s when too many emotions at once need to exit, like the metaphorical kettle that’s been sitting on the stove too long. You may need to cry, shout, pout, scream, punch your pillow, dance like a maniac, or a do a combination of any of those.
When I refer to “freaking out,” I don’t mean it in the sense of screaming at someone who’s triggered something in you. I mean that need to let those emotions out, either in the presence of someone you trust or on your own (so long as you’re safe). It’s this need to release those negative emotions you’ve been bottling up this entire time.
For me freaking out usually involves loud music and crazy dancing. It often begins and/or ends with crying. You will often feel spent by the end of your freak out. All that nervous energy will be gone – and that is a good thing.
If you’re curious about the reasons we freak out Psychology Today has published a few articles about it – Why You Freak Out .
What Happens in Your Mind When You Freak Out
Freaking out is part of the process of handling stress. Our brain is hard wired to manage stress through action: that’s why some people go nuts with cleaning or another activity when they’re stressed. There was a time when humans’ biggest stressors involved grave danger to our lives. We had no choice but to act to save ourselves. You’ve heard of the fight or flight response? Freaking out is in fact our brain forcing us into fight mode.
So when you allow yourself to freak out, you are actually processing the stress. Use the feelings you are having during your freak out to power you forward into action on dealing with your fear of change.
Why We Freak Out
Freaking out lets us process emotions associated with change. Change is usually scary, even if we know crossing over to whatever lies on the other side of it will help us.
Freaking out helped me realize that I was staying in an unhappy marriage because I wanted the security and stability it afforded me. Once I faced the truth about my situation, I recognized that security and stability were in fact keeping me unhappy. Freaking out and crying allowed me to take the time to see that no matter what—even if I ended up starting a new career at the bottom of the ladder—I was going to be happier in a new life than I was in my current one.
Freaking out Can Give You Clarity
Freaking out burns so much excess emotional energy that you eventually become too tired to deal with all the obstacles your mind has been conjuring up to prevent you from stepping over the threshold and embracing the new world that is waiting for you.
Some obstacles may be real: When I chose to leave my husband, I knew I would need to find ways to support my children, both financially and emotionally. But as all my fears dissipated in the magic and reality of P!NK’s lyrics, I began to see solutions.
Don’t let obstacles keep you from freaking out, gaining clarity on your situation, and finding a safe way out of it. For me, I bonded with my inner P!NK. I spent hours blasting her albums and feeling the strength of her lyrics.
Often it’s not until we’ve freaked out about something that we find clarity about our change.
Dealing With Emotions You’ve Been Avoiding
Part of the process of accepting the idea of change is dealing with grief, denial and worry about the implications of the change. No one enjoys these emotions, but we need to work through them to live the life we feel we deserve. Freaking out forced me to face my fears and find my truth: the unknown was exactly what I wanted, but I was still living with my fear of change.
Freaking out actually kicked me to start planning my future. I still felt scared, lonely and worried, but at the same time (which I didn’t think was possible), I felt alive again. The fear was now mixed with excitement about possibilities for a happier future.
You’re Not Nuts
It really is okay to freak out, to acknowledge your fear and to cry and be angry. It is an opportunity to let go and welcome something new. And who knows – you may end up with the cleanest house on the block.
Freaking out is not permission to give up: think of it as a step up, not a step down. It cleanses your thoughts so you can more easily step over that threshold into the life you know you deserve