• Hannah E Greenwood

Crossing The Threshold

Updated: Apr 11


Photo by Abigail Chard

I wrote in my last Perspectives Post, True Mastery, that I had a special, into my next decade, birthday coming up and that I had been stubbornly resisting any celebration planning. And then, in a moment of shock, I realised what I had unconsciously almost wished for: that I would never reach this birthday. I shook myself awake, hushed my mouth and accepted that arriving at each year/decade is a cause for deep thankfulness and celebration. What was really happening, at an unconscious level, was that I thought I could control this change. That I could somehow choose to stay alive and not cross this threshold birthday. I’ve done a lot of reflecting on why this was such a big threshold for me which I will talk about later in this Post. Crossing a threshold into a new chapter is always going to be unsettling at some level. Even if it’s a change we have yearned for… a new home, a baby, a partner, a new job/career…this is not a ‘pick and mix’ change where we control what we want to change and what we don’t. Threshold change is transformational change, internally and externally. It’s about letting go of our known and familiar world and launching into unknown territory and there is bound to be turbulence as we transition from the old to the new. How we do this is hugely impacted by our experiences of earlier threshold chapters. Three years ago, my brilliant coach, Mary, encouraged me to talk through the journey of my birth. She explained that how we are born into this world has an impact on how we experience crossing subsequent thresholds. I asked my mother. She told me that my birth involved a run up of trains, buses, a French indie movie: Hiroshima Mon Amour, and lots of anxiety and rushing around. But once I had crossed the threshold, it was paradoxically peaceful, calm and safe. So, what does this tell me? That, yes, I can feel anxious and very stretched in threshold moments; that I can carry the burden of old ‘ghosts’ from previous times; that I can get hooked into the drama of what’s happening externally, and that this can feel very destabilising. And it also tells me that once I’ve crossed into the next chapter, I feel a little nervous to begin with but that soon flips into a buzz of excitement as the adrenalin kicks in and I quickly let go of the old and embrace this new world. And, invariably, it is never as bad as my very imaginative mind had feared and always, always better than I could have hoped for. And the more I do this consciously, the smoother the transition is and the greater my confidence to respond both to the turbulence and to the new environment. Like attracts like: if we expect the worst, then we are much more likely to bring that in. Conversely, if we consciously maintain a positive mindset and energy, then we are giving ourselves the best chance to create the best outcome. See True Mastery and Reasons to be thankful: a psychological gearshift for practical guidance on this. So why, when I have never felt shy or resistant towards other birthdays, have I found this birthday so hard to accept? It is because I have no coordinates as to how to ‘be’ as an older woman. I grew up in a society with so many ‘injunctions’ …a psychological term for the messages we unconsciously internalise about social norms… as to how an older woman ‘should’ be: the full time daily-carer grandmother; the ‘old crone’: wise but eccentric, isolated and feared by the community; the invisible ‘ghost’ of a woman with no voice or influence. I don’t identify with any of these. Even the many well-meaning comments I’m receiving: ‘My Goodness you don’t look 60!’ speaks volumes about how a woman of my age ‘should’ look and behave. So, my resistance was a stuckness, a ‘futile void’ space. I knew how I didn’t want to be, but not how I did. Being challenged into awareness by loved ones was the first step. That always forces me to look inwards and question what’s really going on. And I’d love to say that this is all in my head. That the work is all internal getting rid of the straitjacketing injunctions and then the path is clear, but my work with my female clients, all daily pushing through the glass ceiling in a very male business world, says otherwise. There is always external reality just as there is always internal reality. Our ‘True Mastery’ task it to attend to both. Once I had owned that I’d come up against these insidious injunctions and began the necessary psychological work to unhook from them, I then moved into the delicious ‘fertile void’ space where true creativity and rich experiencing happens. I reread my words back in October which reminded me I am still the same woman, that age will not change who I am: ‘We (women) are now trying to find a balance between our professional and personal lives, not an ‘either/or’ choice as previous generations have had to make but a way that allows for both. And this drive for integration pushes us into new and unexpected territory. It forces us to grow up, to stop being the ‘good girl’ and to start connecting to our own empowered ‘voice’. Such women used to be rare. Now it is increasingly becoming the norm. And yes, maybe we didn’t have role models to aspire to. Maybe what we had to do is consciously NOT become what we beheld. This is true for everyone: if we live an unconscious life, we automatically become the person we didn’t want to become, have the life we didn’t want to have and we become very grumpy and mean old men and women, bewailing that life hasn’t been fair. To consciously become an empowered, enlightened human being takes great courage: the courage to choose a different path, a different way of being. A path that cannot always be seen and is not always easy but one that ultimately brings great rewards'. - We Become What We Behold And of course my stuckness and questioning applies to all ages, as the brilliant Be A Lady They Said shows. It is International Women’s Day, a joyous day for all women, and the many good men, to celebrate how truly fabulous and unique women can be!