For many of us changes, particularly those we can’t control, are stressful and challenging to deal with, whether they be the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, or a health crisis. Yet all of these life changes are challenges that may be turned into opportunities.
William Bridges in his book “ Transitions – Making Sense of Life’s Changes (2004), views “change” as situational and external; such as moving to a new city or losing a job. In contrast, he views “transition” as psychological or internal. Transitions, he emphasizes, are the internal work that helps us to reorient and redefine ourselves and incorporate external changes into our lives.
Research and life experience shows that if we don’t do the internal “transition” work, then we often recreate the same patterns in our lives. An example is someone who after 3 marriages, on reflection, realizes that she has married 3 different men who are similar (they may even resemble one another) and has dealt with the same issues in each marriage, never resolving them but rather recreating them and remaining unhappy.
So in order to move forward and be happy and fulfilled, we need to take time in each transition to do the work that will enable us to grow, and change past patterns that are no longer serving us.
How can you embrace a life transition (such as the end of a significant relationship) and learn and grow from the experience?
- Slow down; for example– rather than getting back on the internet and going out dating right away at the end of a relationship, why not take some time for yourself.
- Reconnect with yourself and what you enjoy – Take some time alone to think about times in your life when you felt really happy and alive. Think about things you used to do and haven’t done for some time or things you’ve dreamed of doing but never taken the time for. Begin doing them – start with one activity and notice how it makes you feel.
- Get in touch with and acknowledge your feelings rather than pushing them down and not experiencing them; this is important to begin the process of healing from the inside out.
- Express those feelings through journaling, painting, drawing, dancing, etc.
- Nurture/Pamper yourself – go for a massage; have a bubble bath; do something special for yourself and remember that YOU are special and deserve the best.
- Spend time in nature – go for a walk by yourself in a nearby park or plan a hike with a friend; being in nature is grounding, helps us clear negative energy, relax and clear our minds.
- Exercise – do something physical be it yoga, a swim, a walk or a hike; this helps the energy to flow and also assists in releasing tension, anger and stress.
- Reach out for support – to a friend, counselor or life coach.
If you change your perspective around a major transition and view it as an opportunity for self-learning and positive growth, wonderful things will begin to happen in your life.
How do you react to change? Does it “scare you to death” or do you “thrive on it”? Reflecting on previous life transitions, how have you tended to deal with them?
We welcome your comments and lessons learned. Feel free to share this post with others who you think might find it of value.