During the course of our lives we experience many transitions. Some of these beginnings and endings are sudden and unexpected, such as an accident, divorce, illness, death, or the loss of a job. Other transitions are a self-imposed process of transformation such as weight loss, marriage, birth of a child, working to overcome stress, an eating disorder, or depression, or entering a new career. Regardless of whether your transition is determined by external factors or self-created, change can leave you feeling unsettled.
Moving from one way of doing things to another requires a transitional period as you let go of the old and embrace the new. Transition is the middle ground required for evolution to occur. It's the place between where you were and where you are going. Quite often, this middle ground feels unstable and stressful. Your old ways of living do not work any more, but new ways of living are not in place just yet. Tiredness, confusion about who you are, and uncertainty about where your life is going are among the many emotions that can be experienced. You may stumble along with unsure footing wondering if you will ever feel confident again.
Your successful transition depends on trusting that your road will always smooth out. You must remind yourself that you your responses and emotions to change are normal. Even though you would rather not face this period of reconstruction, it also provides an unparallel opportunity for growth and evolution, and a greater capacity for joy. Here are some guidelines that can help you through your transition journey:
As often as possible, breathe deeply. Realize your transition, whether planned or unplanned, is happening. Although no one wants to experience endings or leave behind old ways of living, transitions are a natural part of life. Your journey may be more difficult than you had imagined, however trust that even though you may feel vulnerable, you can survive this transition. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions you are feeling, yet also remind yourself of the bigger picture of life. You could say something like, "I am capable of feeling and experiencing myself and my emotions through this transition. It's okay that I feel sad, unsettled, and insecure. I can love myself through this experience." Remind yourself that as you look at the world in a new way, a new beginning will emerge.
Give Yourself Time and Grace
Even when your transition is self-imposed, it may be tempting to give up. Ask yourself a question: Are you going to curl up, pretend you are powerless, decide that you can not have what you want, and please seek someone to rescue you from the middle of the road? Or are you going to gather up all your courage and gracefully walk on your own two feet? It's okay to stumble and fall during a transition, we all do it. It's even okay to lie there in the dirt for awhile, everyone has their moments of doubt and insecurity. What matters is that you ever pick yourself up with compassion and reorient yourself. Your life has meaning and value, even when your world looks unsettled.
"Feed your faith, not your fears." Everyday I look at this quote taped to my computer screen and remind myself that I have two choices. Like most people, I have often found that the greater my fear, the tighter my grip. Reminding myself that there are choices beyond fear helps bring me back to center. Ask yourself if it is time to let go of gripping so tightly and move into a new experience? You will most likely have to move forward while still feeling fear rather than waiting for the fear to pass. Eleanor Roosevelt eloquently stated, "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. I've lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you can not do. "
For each of us, we must walk our own path. No one can save you from your journey. No one can pick you up from your current experience and drop you off on the other side. Your journey, your transition, and the challenges you face during the transition are important. Facing your obstacles presents new potentials of inner strength, insight, and wisdom. You must walk your own road – but that does not mean you can not bring some friends along to walk with you for awhile. Meet with a therapist, coach, friend, or advisor on a regular basis to keep you grounded. These people can help you though the periods of self-doubt and instability. We all need someone to lean on and support us through the bumpy parts.
Words Are Power
Be acutely aware of the words you use when you are feeling insecure. Observe how you speak to yourself and the words you use when you are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged. Do they empower you or leave you feeling powerless? Do you walk to the nearest mirror and give yourself supportive words, or do you kick yourself when you are already feeling down? Do you offer messages of encouragement, or words that hurt? Is your tone rooted in fear or filled with love of self? Positive, self-affirming, resourceful, and loving language – spoken or thought – is what allows you to successfully navigate through your journey.
Take a Risk
Change requires you to move from your smaller, confined circle of comfort to one that is larger and more expansive. The edges of the smaller comfort zone need to be faced. Like Columbus sailing off to explore the edge of the ocean, you too are exploring unknown new territory. The risk is that you might fall off the edge of the world. Choose actions that allow you to securely feel the stretch of growth. Ask yourself each week, "What risk have I taken?" "What success have I experienced?" Make it okay to be a beginner again. It's how you grow and transform. You will inspire others and find strengths you never knew you had.
Create a Ritual to Honor the Change
Take the time to symbolically acknowledge the journey you are on. It is a stage of growth, new lessons, and a new attitude. A ritual can be anything metaphoric that has meaning to you. Perhaps it might be setting something free, cleaning your closet, throwing out your diet books, a celebration of the journey with friends, or even listing all the things that have been holding you back up little strips of paper and then burning them. Take physical action to acknowledge the path you are moving along and to open up to new possibilities that await you just around the corner. Simple daily rituals that nurture your soul help you gain respect for the life transition you are in. In addition, a ritual may help you close a door that needs to be closed. Honor what has come before, learn from it, and let it go. Acknowledge the present, and give thanks for your future. Receive support from your higher self.
It may help to carry with you a transitional object that reminds you of your success so far, and keep your vision on your overall goal. The object could be something you touch that reminds you of your journey. Or it could be an item that provides comfort. Think of a baby holding onto a teddy bear or a favorite blanket. Or the function of rosary beads. Link your sense of touch to the feeling of success. Touch, stroke, or handle your item with each small (or large) sense of achievement. Then when you gain strength to go on, touching your object again will remind you of your goal. Here's a list of potential transit objects you could easily carry in your pocket or on your body:
– Small smooth stone
– Special necklace
– Ring for your finger
– Sea shell
– Symbolic lapel pin
As you understand the nature of transition, use these these self-loving steps to navigate your way through it into a new life.