Transitions in Life Don’t Have to be Daunting

Here we go again. Just when we thought things wouldn’t change, they did. Change seemingly always happen, despite the many times you heard or said they would not. Like death and taxes, transition in life is a guarantee.

How are you with coping with change?  Do you face new beginning trepidation? How are you with endings?

Throughout the different stages of life – life’s transitions – we all have to face them, deal with them and get through them.

A transition can mean daunting change

Whether you are going through a job change, separation or divorce, a health change, the loss of a loved one, succession planning, change can be daunting. Our brains are wired to resist change, and the majority of us choose to resist even when the change is positive. We like to be in our comfort zones. Staying there is, shall we say, “comfortable!”

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that what you resist persists. While other societies prepare people for change and transitions, we need to do a better job preparing ourselves instead of it feeling like we face a daunting task. Life transitions do not have to be daunting. Know that every transition begins with an ending.

During life’s transitions, it is important that we let go of the old before we pick up the new. Dealing with things both outwardly and inwardly has to occur for a healthy transition period to follow.

Outward changes can be made, such as moving from one home to another, a new job, and new relationships. Inward changes are harder: in the example about moving, we must deal with what comes along with a move, such as our connections to people and familiarity with the new location.

Another example: I’ve been working with people going through life (separation, divorce) and career transitions. People feel they can adequately prepare by having their finances in order, choosing a place where they want to live (outward), and developing new interests (inward). There are challenges along the way that can be eased when we understand a three-phase process of transition.

Three areas of transition

According to William Bridges, author of Transition, Making Sense of Life’s Changes, all transitions involve the following three areas:

  1. An ending;
  2. A neutral zone (where we can go through periods of confusion); and
  3. A new beginning.

Recognizing these will help everyone with change.

Another important element in this area is learning to differentiate between change and transition. It seems these terms are often confused. Change is situational. It is external. For example starting a new job, moving to another city, getting a new boss, experiencing the birth of a baby or the passing of a loved one are all changes.

Transition requires change, but change does not mean transition

transition is an internal process, such as actually accepting or incorporating any of the above.

Transitions take time. Typically people are looking for new beginnings. But they haven’t let go of old situations. Be aware that beginnings and endings come with bumps in the road. Resist being thrown off by those bumps.

Even though you may be heading in a positive new direction, this doesn’t mean that your changing situation will happen without challenges. But remember that they can be managed. Just knowing that is helpful.

As Bridges puts it, “we are not comfortable in the confusing nowhere of in-between and of launching forth again with a new situation.” During transitions, many confusing or disorienting what ifs can and do arise.

Life equals growth

Throughout life we grow. This natural process involves periodic accelerations and transformations. Time goes by and nothing seems to happen. But then we begin to glimpse the signs of change. Change is the new norm. To be healthy today we will have to figure out ways of dealing with change productively.

The process of going through transitions is based on a theory of personal development and not just a manual on how to cope.

Going into a transition with a positive attitude will help with the associated processes of disorientation and reorientation.

Successful transitions can also help with unexpected losses.

According to Bridges,

“we come to identify ourselves with the circumstances of our lives. Who we think we are is partly defined by our roles and relationships, those we like as well as those we don’t…. transitional situations bring this paradox to the surface and force us to look at negative and positive aspects of our life situations.”

While changes and transitions all have their ups and downs, having rituals to work through them seems to help. We all have rituals. They are helpful no matter what change or transition we are going through. But when our lives are in a state of disruption by changes or transitions, there is a resulting feeling of disorientation.

The importance of meaningful rituals

Individuals feel comfortable with things that are familiar and actions that are practiced consistently, particularly when other things around them are changing. Our self-talk (our internal dialogue, the things we say to ourselves) is impacted by change, and reacts by getting louder and faster.

This happens because our ego is doing everything it can to keep us safe and because it doesn’t like change.

The ego likes the status quo. Therefore, another impact on our self-talk is that our status quo ego makes the process of change and transition more challenging.

Some rituals can help us to better cope with change and transition.

For example, I begin my day with meditation, setting my intentions and writing down three things I am grateful for. No matter where I am, I begin my day this way so that I feel centered and grounded. Because I know the impact of self-talk. Having my morning rituals helps make things go more smoothly. Performing my rituals is something I know I can count on, and it always makes me feel better, no matter what is going on in my life.

Since change and transition are a definite part of our lives, what can you do for yourself, what rituals can you perform to make it smoother sailing no matter which way the winds of change and transition may blow?

How to Solve the Heavy Burden of Endless Clutter

Take this simple quiz: What do piles of paper, too many unanswered emails in your inbox, clothes you don’t wear, prescriptions that have expired, random items like toys lying around the house and negative thoughts all have in common?

Answer, please: They are all clutter. Whether physical or mental, all these items take up space, have a heavy presence in your life and emanate a burdensome negative energy.

When you open the door and walk into your office, what do you see? Endless stacks of paper? When you turn on your computer and check your correspondence, are you dismayed to discover an endless stack of unanswered emails in your inbox? What about your home? What are you going to do with those accumulating stack of magazines? Newspapers? Old clothes? And for families with kids, are there lots of abandoned toys scattered throughout the house?

Did you know that a person wastes two years of his or her life searching for misplaced “stuff”? Think about that. What could you do with all that that time if you weren’t wasting it?

Looking up the definition of clutter, you find rough synonyms like “disorder,” “confused,” and “untidy.” Clutter has a visceral effect. You can actually feel it: ponderously heavy, swirling, negative thoughts chasing one another in your head; a lack of clarity of thought; a sense that you’re overwhelmed by something you cannot overcome. You know the feeling, because everyone today has experienced the draining effects of clutter in some form.

Clutter itself is manifested in three forms: physical, electronic and emotional.

Most people are familiar with the physical form clutter can take: stacks of paper and publications, clothes you haven’t worn, and so on.

Electronic clutter typically often arrives in the form of emails and voicemail. In this technological world, we are experiencing increasing amounts of electronic clutter. Mix these with the constant distractions coming from all quarters in our fast-paced society, and it’s no wonder that so many people are constantly being overwhelmed. There is so much going on in our lives already, and electronic clutter can create or add to real chaos.

Last, consider emotional clutter. In general, emotional clutter is an accumulation of human communications and unfinished business left open with no resolution, Emotional clutter is negative thinking or negative self-talk that moves us away from what we desire in life. It depletes our energy. It takes away our clarity and focus. One client said this kind of clutter felt as if it everything she was thinking was swirling around in her head. Another client said this clutter was like bricks piled on one’s shoulders. You get the picture.

Clutter literally takes up the physical and emotional space that blocks the things you do want in your life. So when you de-clutter, you are literally opening the space for something you want or desire to come into your life.

For example, if you have clothes hanging in your closet or piled in your dresser drawers that you don’t wear, they take up a lot of space. There is no more room available to put the clothes you do want to wear in a drawer or in your closet. Gather up and remove the cluttered clothes you’re not wearing (you can always donate them) and open that space to accommodate what you currently desire.

An example of emotional clutter is negative self-talk, our internal dialogue or chatter. Is your current train of thought going to take you closer to reaching your goals, or will it move you further away from what you truly desire? If it’s the latter, it’s depleting and it’s clutter—and you don’t want to fill your head with what you don’t want.

Once you begin physical or mental de-cluttering, notice how much better you are feeling, as you gain clarity and focus, and as you begin to feel lighter and have an improved attitude and mood. Try it. It works.

Here are some useful tips to get you started in the right direction:

Choose a physical or mental area of clutter to address.

Commit to yourself or to an accountability partner (a coach, a friend or a partner) a goal to de-clutter for 15 minutes a day.

Start with something small like a desk drawer, a night table or a medicine cabinet (physical); delete or respond to emails (electronic); or close a situation where you’ve left an open-ended or dangling communication (emotional).

Put on music or the TV and have fun with it while you work on your goal each day. This commitment is not punitive!

Summer Vacation: A Chance to Discover Your Real Life Purpose

 

Summertime has always been a popular time of the year for families to take a vacation because the kids are home from school. It’s a great time to kick back and relax.

I often encourage clients to make sure they take some “self” time while they are away from home. There will be plenty of time to be with your family and taking some self-time helps you to recharge. Remember, to be there for everyone else, we have to take great care of ourselves.

So whether you are going to the beach, the mountains or anywhere else, it is a perfect place to reflect on half the year that has gone by and think about what you would like to make happen for the second half of the year. Life is more than setting and accomplishing goals and doing, doing, doing! What about just “being?”

To get you started, here is a key question to ask:

What do you want? What do you really, really want?

Some people answer “to be happy” or to be “the best they can be,” but what does that really mean? How do you get there?

Others say they have no idea. To that response, I sometimes interject, well, if you had to guess what would it be?Some say they have never given that notion much if any thought, but they concluded they did not feel as fulfilled as they would like.

No matter where you fall on the continuum or what stage of life you are at exploring at the moment, discovering your life purpose can answer many of those unanswered questions you have about your life.

For example, when I am working with baby boomers, the process of helping them discover what they want and who they are is so exciting. Their faces light up with grins from ear to ear radiating child-like joy.

Many boomers went directly from school to work to mortgages, kids, car payments and other responsibilities and never really thought about what they wanted for themselves or what their true passion is. Being out in nature, away from all our electronic devices can give us the time and opportunity we need to reflect.

The first step on our journey to our calling in life is to listen to our internal voices, our self-talk. During the year we rarely have the luxury of a quiet moment to hear it…and to not push it away because we have to do this errand, or be on the go and “doing” something, or because some of our self-talk is saying, “Are you kidding? You have enough already, you don’t have to look deeper…stay the same, stay with the status quo…”

So many of us do this because that’s what our ego wants us to do.

Take that quiet time you’ve set aside and listen to your inner voice and to your gut, your intuition. The symptoms and anxieties that have haunted you will fade into the background and be replaced by opportunities and possibilities, both big and small.

You owe this to yourself. Everyone in your life will benefit, because they will have more of who you are. You will be opening the door to what you’re truly here to do and to what you truly want.