Moving away from home, family, and friends can invoke…
Panic! Fear! Anxiety! Worry!
These emotions wreak havoc with the thought of moving away from the people you care about and love. It is possibly the only place you’ve known all or most of your life! That is just plain S.C.A.R.Y to be perfectly honest…wide eyed scary at that!
I’ve been there too.
Traveling and visiting new places is much different than this situation because you always go back HOME. There is a certain comfort in knowing that.
You know, I had not traveled someplace where I didn’t know when I would be going back home. In fact, I even ended up going to college in the next town over. My hometown felt SAFE and I felt protected, you know, kind of like being wrapped up in your favorite blanket.
So why are you feeling fearful or emotional when you know you have a fantastic future with your military member? You’re at a time in your life that is exciting. You are moving with the one you love to start your life – but you’re leaving the only thing you’ve ever known.
But before we get to the steps of leaving home, we need to explore why you might feel this way during your first move away from home as a military spouse.
Moving to New Places Activates Your Fear
It’s no surprise that doing new things activates our fears. So when I was getting married to someone in the Navy, I knew that moving was going to be a part of our life. But as exciting as that may sound to live in a new place definitely increased my fear of the unknown!
I wasn’t going to be moving across town or someplace close that I could hop in the car and drive a few minutes or hours to see my family and friends.
No, I was moving thousands of miles away and Across. An. Ocean! No major highway getting me home in a few hours!
Moving from the known to the unknown is frightening – let’s be honest it is really S.C.A.R.Y!
These are the feelings we have when we do or try things for the first time. It is not unusual and you are not alone. In fact, I remember crying all night the night before I boarded a plane for my new home. The feelings were so overwhelming and strong they took my bright outlook and put clouds with lightning bolts over it! Have you ever felt this way?
Why Do You Feel Fearful?
It is so easy for your little voice to get your fear activated. Then, what do you see – a catastrophe!
The voice thinks it’s protecting you from embarrassment, mistakes, rejection, or failure. It keeps you wrapped up in your cozy little blanket – your comfort zone – and makes the opportunities in your life shrink.
Have you had this happen too?
Well if you have then here is something you need to know.
When you find yourself listening to your little voice in your head, remind yourself of the things you have encountered in your past that created fear or anxiety. Franklin D. Roosevelt told us that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and that is so true because it can keep us trapped.
BUT at the same time, I don’t want you to dismiss the REAL feelings you felt.
Rather think forward about how those fears did not come to fruition and the situations turned out just fine, maybe even better than you thought they would. Mark Twain said it perfectly – “I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened.”
Getting Past Fear and Moving Forward
So how will you get past the fear, worry, and anxiety?
One thing I learned was that we have a choice to stay frozen and allow fear to prevent us from doing what we need to do to push through it. We need to find ways – on a daily basis – to manage our fear in order to move forward into the life we dream of with our military member.
How do you do that you ask?
You have to look at what YOU WANT to happen.
But just knowing what you want was not enough. You have to start learning to look ahead to making a successful move – to turn what you wanted into goals.
When looking at the big picture – the goal – in moving to your new home can become daunting with all that needs to be done. Which in turn activates your fear all the more.
So the CRUCIAL action you need to take is to break that big task into smaller actionable steps – which is the KEY to overcoming fear. This journey is the most important in tackling your fear of facing uncertainty in your first move.
In fact, if you really think about it, life is nothing more than a journey of taking small steps on a daily basis. Knowing this allows you to find it easier to move forward towards your goals with courage…it helps you reframe how you view and respond to fear altogether.
6 Steps for Moving Away
So let’s look at an actionable plan that you can use to push through your fear and move forward to a life in the military that is fun, exciting and adventurous!
Let’s use an acronym, much like the military does, to help you remember things. (Funny how the military will rub off on you after a while!)
DUC PAS – Decide. Understand. Commit. Plan. Act. Succeed (Pronounced “Duck Pass”)
You have the power to eliminate your fear courageously when you make the decision to set a goal and a plan.
Thinking in advance about what you are going to do does reduce uncertainty and fear. It helps us stay poised to respond appropriately when the fear of the unknown enters the picture.
Deciding to look fear in the face is just the beginning, but an important step at that. Just stare it down and decide it isn’t going to control you!
Next, you should understand that your fear gets a lot of its energy and momentum from uncertainty and a lack of clarity.
After all, if you don’t know where you’re going (I’m not talking about the uncertainty of getting orders here – you can read about that here), you end up going where life takes you.
Which probably isn’t where you want to be or go.
Therefore, making sense of your surroundings and the surroundings of where you will be going is essential to making a good plan for your move. When you assess your situation, just like any good military member does during a SITREP, you will be able to see more clearly.
One thing that helped me in making my first move was to imagine as many scenarios as I could. This made it easier to understand my surroundings, plan, and make decisions for those scenarios in advance. You will gain confidence that allows you to be able to face them with a focus on the process and outcome rather than on the fear.
Questions to ask yourself to help you determine your own understanding of the situation are:
- What do I/we want? (We being you and your military member)
- How am I/we going to get it?
- What am I/are we doing or where are we going?
- Why am I/are we doing it or why do we want to go there?
- Is it getting me/us closer to our goals?
- Do I/we even have goals?
This, in turn, makes it easier to know what steps will be necessary and how to break them down into doable tasks.
When we gain experience, our confidence increases. When our confidence increases, we can put our fear into perspective. So you have to understand that you NEED A PLAN.
Before you can make a plan you have to commit to following that plan.
There were many times that I was scared of how hard something would be and of failing at it, so I often procrastinated in doing it. Sometimes I would just say I couldn’t do it and then never attempted it. Which didn’t help in any way reach any goals.
But you must learn to stay with the task or on the journey to the goal. Even when it is inconvenient or hard, which is TRUE COMMITMENT.
As mentioned before, the best way to keep fear from getting activated when we look at the totality of the task of moving to an unknown place is to break it down.
When you break down your complex task into as many smaller tasks as possible, it makes them more attainable. It also decreases the probability of procrastination over getting things ready or not even starting at all.
Even if you decide, understand and commit to a plan you can still find yourself in full activated fear. Most of the time when addressing those fears – it is worsened by a lack of organization.
So part of the plan should be finding a way to organize those tasks for preparing and implementing your first move in meaningful ways that make sense to you.
Some ways you can do this would be:
- Blocking out certain times in your day to do certain tasks in a planner.
- Making a chart/list of things that need to be done in a meaningful order.
- Getting a calendar and writing on each day which tasks need to be completed.
I know for me I need a visual to help me stay on track. I occasionally have the “Oh, Shiny” syndrome and get off task quickly – is that you too? So actually you may employ a couple of the above suggestions to keep you on track.
Writing out a list of things that need to be done is your first task – I call this brain dumping. After that, you will prioritize them. Then you will time block your top priority tasks first. Fill in the next tasks till your day is full. There will be times a task will take longer than anticipated so add a buffer to give yourself some breathing room.
Keep in mind that you may have to spend a little money to have the right tools – like a calendar or a planner. Don’t think twice about getting these tools. In the long run, it will save you time and aggravation. Which in turn will dramatically reduce your fear, worry, and anxiety about the move.
You now have a plan. You start to get excited about what’s possible and have the determination to face your fear to get things done. That’s a fantastic feeling and it is energizing at the same time! WooHoo!
Now it’s time to act.
Acting and believing are closely connected to one another. The more you act, the more you believe you will be able to act in the face of fear, worry, and anxiety.
After a while, you start doing what you thought was impossible. The fear subsides into the excitement of what’s ahead. As you begin to complete the tasks in your plan it will build your confidence that you can reach your goal.
Remember if you find yourself being a procrastinator then you haven’t broken down your tasks into “bite-size” and you’re still feeling overwhelmed. So go back and look at your plan again and see where you need to break them down further.
It may be that you need to start small with the tasks of moving. Maybe cleaning out a junk drawer to start with just to get you past the bump in the road.
Don’t you love it when a well-planned out plan comes together nicely? I know I do!
But remember that it takes work to get there!
Having said that don’t miss out on the wonderful parts of the process and the joy in accomplishing the tasks. There will be bumps along the way, so embrace them. Give yourself the satisfaction of completing and working through the difficult issues as they come.
I know it seems strange to celebrate or congratulate ourselves when we accomplish even the smallest of tasks. But it is a crucial part of keeping your momentum and getting past your fear. Go as far as writing down how you will celebrate. I personally like a pint of Butter Pecan ice cream…yum!
So don’t deprive yourself – celebrate even the small wins!
Embrace the Fear of the Move
The fear of the unknown can take away all your excitement about starting your new life as a military spouse! This can happen even in the midst of knowing you are moving because you are going to be with the one you love.
But I want to encourage you to:
- Choose trust over worry.
- Courage over fear.
- Action over procrastination.
If you’re feeling fear about what comes next, embrace the uncertainty.
I know that sounds crazy and I get it.
Walking that journey every time we move to the next duty station is always daunting, but it gets easier each time I follow these steps. Over time you will see the progress you are making to overcome your fear.
When you stretch and grow yourself while dreaming about the amazing possibilities you’ll have with your military member and all the wonderful places you will experience, you set yourself up for success.
Are you fearful when facing new situations? What are some ways you overcome fear?
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