Starting from scratch, the possibility of having a fresh start, may be exciting and motivating for some, but for most it is a scary experience. In reality, we are not afraid of starting from scratch, but of having it all over again, of tripping over the same stone twice, of disappointing ourselves and confirming our worst suspicions.
But we must remember that “nothing is lost if we have the courage to proclaim that all is lost and we must start over”, in the words of Julio Cortázar. After all, this is life: a series of beginnings and epilogues.
The fear of tripping over the same stone twice
When we embark on a new adventure, what we want most is for everything to go smoothly. We start with great enthusiasm by working hard to make sure everything works perfectly. But that's not always the case. Sometimes, no matter how much enthusiasm and commitment we put in, things don't go quite right. Sometimes life "forces us" to pick up the pieces and start from scratch. It can happen in any field, from relationships to work.
In fact, every time we undertake a new project there is a risk that it will not go through, every decision we make foresees both the possibility of success and that of “failure”. When we've put a lot of effort and enthusiasm into a project and it falls apart, the prospect of starting from scratch can be terrifying. In those cases it is normal to be paralyzed with fear. If we fail to overcome that fear, we will be trapped in the past, in the circle of despair and frustration.
Maybe you spent years of your life in a relationship that went wrong, you invested your life savings in a business that didn't go through, or you moved to a foreign country where you had to start from scratch.
In these cases it is normal to feel different emotions. After a "failure" you may feel discouraged and disappointed, this is not only due to disappointment but also because you have run out of your "emotional battery". When a project is going wrong, it usually consumes a large part of our psychological resources, precisely because we try to save it at all costs. And as we try to save him we suffer from emotional bleeding, something very common in relationships.
It is also normal to be afraid. However, fear is such an intense and visceral emotion that it often outshines the rest. Sometimes the "fear of starting from scratch" turns into a generic expression that encompasses all other emotions and ends up paralyzing us. But if you don't name what you feel, if you don't face that fear, you won't be able to fight it effectively. If you don't know who you are fighting with, you will just strike in the dark.
It is very likely that you are not really afraid of starting from scratch, but that you will repeat it all over again, reliving a new failure that will leave you with deep scars. You can be afraid of going back to suffering, trying again without getting the expected results, wasting other years of your life ...
Starting from scratch is not scary, what is scary is the prospect of returning to the starting point. It's a subtle difference that can help you overcome fear and move on.
Why is it so difficult to start from scratch?
- You don't know what to do. If you feel completely stuck and can't even consider several alternatives to start from scratch, it's probably because you don't know what to do. Maybe you have your goal in mind, you know where you want to go, but you don't know the way. Indeed, it is a normal situation when the goals are very ambitious and the necessary steps are not clear. If so, all you need to do is break that goal down into small goals that you can manage better. Gradually you will find out which is the best way, step by step. Make Confucius' maxim: "one step does not take you where you want to go, but takes you away from where you are".
- You are exhausted. You may have clear your goals and the way forward, but the previous story was so intense that you feel exhausted, at the limit of your strength. The simple fact of observing the path you have to cross exhausts you and you think you are not up to it. In this case, when you run out of psychological resources, your best bet is to take a break from that problem, give yourself time to start over. During this time you can regain the strength, motivation and enthusiasm you need to start your new project.
- You have lost faith in yourself. It's the worst case scenario because it implies that you don't have enough confidence in your abilities. It is likely to be the result of disappointments or previous failures. In that case, starting from scratch seems pointless because you are convinced that you will fail again. You blame yourself for what happened and don't think you've learned from past mistakes, so you deny yourself a chance to get a second chance. To get a second chance, you need to rediscover your self-confidence. To achieve this, you need to do a deep inner work that allows you to learn from the mistakes of the past and take them on with an elastic attitude. When you assume that a "failure" only means that you have tried to do something, you will regain the desire to try again, this time with more maturity and experience. Remember the words of Henry Ford: "Failure is an opportunity to start over with more intelligence."
How to start from scratch?
- Assume you are not starting from scratch. In fact, all past experiences, even negative and unpleasant ones, leave us a lesson. If you analyze the mistakes made, you will not be starting from scratch because you will have a stronger foundation, which increases your chances of success. Therefore, the idea of starting from scratch is actually a mistake, a deception of your scared mind.
- Take advantage of this new beginning. Sometimes you just have to change the perspective for everything to change. Every day is a new beginning, a new opportunity for you to create something new and better. Instead of taking the fresh start as a punishment, you can see it as an opportunity to grow, do things differently, and test your skills.
- Be patient. Starting over isn't always easy, especially when you need to heal some emotional wounds. In these cases, it is important not to rush but to take the time to heal these wounds. Running too much can lead you to repeat the same mistakes of the past.
- Get through the initial block. Some endings are so drastic or unexpected that they block us. To start from scratch you have to overcome this initial block and the best way to do this is to consider the new opportunities. This emotional block arises from the inability to discern the path that awaits us, often because habits and routines blind us, so we must slowly clear the mental fog.
- Recognize your fears. Are you afraid of starting from scratch and repeating the same mistakes? Find out which beliefs fuel fear and test them with techniques such as cognitive restructuring. It is true that taking a new path and a different way of doing things can be frightening, but even worse is being trapped in the past. Assume every mistake is a learning experience and understand that you can never go back to the same point because you grow more and more with each new experience. In fact, sometimes the goal isn't as important as the person you became while trying to achieve it. After all, life is a journey, not a destination.
- Embrace change. Life flows in a process of constant change. Many times we are afraid of starting over because we consider ourselves a "finished product" or feed static images of a relationship or a profession. Conversely, when we embrace change, we change our perspective and open up to a universe of possibilities that allows us to take on new beginnings.
- Build resilience. If you trust your ability to overcome adversity, starting from scratch won't be that difficult. People who have struggled with winds and tides have tested their resilience and internalized a teaching of great value: "No matter how difficult things are, in the end I will make it." That certainty is a beacon that illuminates and sustains them in the most difficult moments.
- Separate from the result. Many times the anxiety and fear of making the same mistakes comes from the tendency to focus on results. Everything changes when we take a psychological distance. Therefore, instead of clinging desperately to mental images, ideas, beliefs and expectations about what the journey should be like, trying to control everything that happens along the way, you need to learn to let go and flow. Focusing on valuable experiences, rather than results, is the best strategy for getting the most out of life.
- Forget your ego. Sometimes the fear of repeating the same mistakes comes from a much deeper fear, that of being negatively valued, of being rejected. We are concerned about what others will think of our "failures". In these cases it is the ego that speaks, so you just have to learn to silence it. Understand that your value as a person does not depend on your successes or failures but on the commitment and passion you put into the journey.
- Start from the end. It may seem like a contradiction, but it is a very useful change of perspective when you need to start from scratch. Remember that for those who do not know which port to go to, no wind is propitious. So, ask yourself "what kind of life do I want to create for myself?" Think about what you really want and be open to the opportunities that will present themselves. It is likely that you will reach your goal through a path that you did not initially plan, but that was much simpler and more exciting.