by Carol L. Meylan
Change happens fast. Sometimes change is clearly positive and other times it is a painful ending. You change jobs; you change cars; you change apartments. Change is a replacement of one situation with another: you shift from one person, place or thing to another. Some change occurs because you are driven to reach a goal or to obtain a new object. Change can also be an ending - something happens abruptly to you – you lose your job, your spouse leaves you, a family member dies.
Transition is the ongoing internal process of dealing with change. You are in transition while you learn to let go of the old and accept the new. Transition is unpredictable – it takes time to get used to a new routine, to mourn the loss of the old house, neighborhood or office. It is not easy to maintain your sense of well-being while you are going through an unsettling or painful transition. However, a transition can be an opportunity for growth as you accept what has happened and search for a new path forward.
When you find yourself in transition – whether it is due to positive change, internally motivated change, or change imposed on you – here are some thoughts to keep in mind:
1) Accept – Don’t Fight Reality
It is normal to resist change. It IS hard to let go of something you liked or your way of being. However, wanting to live in the past prolongs the adjustment period. Focus on accepting the reality that your life has changed.
2) Slow Down – Pause – Reflect
While you are in a transition, slow down your life so you can take the time to think and reflect. Take walks or sit quietly in nature. Pay attention to your feelings. Ask yourself what you fear about the new situation. Try to see things differently – is it possible that this change will be beneficial for you?
3) Live in the Present
Dwelling in the past can lead to depression. And thinking only about the future is anxiety-provoking. Instead, live in “day-tight compartments” – focus on the here and now of the present. Don’t try to be a fortune-teller.
4) Ask for Advice – Get Support
When you are struggling through a difficult transition, talk to someone who has been through the same thing. If you are divorcing, talk to a friend who has survived a divorce and is now thriving. Surround yourself with supportive and non-judgmental people.
5) Cultivate a Positive Outlook
You can’t always control what happens in life. You can however control how you react to the situation. Try to set aside negative thoughts. Write down the positives and benefits of the change; look for the silver lining.
And if you find yourself stuck in a transition, struggling to accept the new reality, a few sessions with a therapist could help. We can help you work through the transition so you feel more optimistic about the future.