For many of us, changes, particularly those we can’t control, are very stressful and challenging, whether they be the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, or the loss of a pet. Yet, all of these major life changes are challenges that may be turned into opportunities.
What’s the difference between “change” and “transition?” 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 becoming a parent. 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. 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 no longer serve us.
How can you turn a challenging major life change into an opportunity?
1. 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.
2. 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 for some time or things you’ve dreamed of doing and have never taken the time for. Begin doing them – start with one activity and note how it makes you feel.
3. 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.
4. Express those feelings through journaling , painting, drawing, dancing, etc.
5. Nurture/pamper yourself – go for a massage; buy a new outfit; have a bubble bath., do something special for yourself and remember you are special and deserve the best.
6. 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 clear us of negative energy, relaxes us and helps our minds get clearer.
7. Exercise – do something physical be it a good walk, yoga or a swim; these help the energy flow and also assist in getting rid of tension, anger and stress.
8. Reach out for support – to a friend, counsellor or life coach.
If you change your perspective around a major transition and see it as an opportunity for growth, fun and self-learning, wonderful things will begin to happen in your life.
Here’s to connecting, creating and transforming your life to one of joy, fulfillment and balance!
© Pam Thompson 2009