We’ve all been there. The major life transitions – moving to a new city, divorcing, becoming ill, becoming a parent or changing a career path – can be shaking and painful, or exciting and invigorating. Yet transitions, even the happy ones, can also be stressful and bring up mixed feelings.
How do we experience transitions?
Most life transitions or changes begin with a string of losses: the loss of a role, a person, a place or the loss of your sense of belongingness, thus where you fit in the world. Any significant loss makes most people feel fearful and anxious.
Lady Gada and Bradley Cooper put it nicely in the “Shallow”:
In all the good times I find myself
Longin’ for change
And in the bad times I fear myself
Most life transitions are challenging because they force us to let go of the familiar and face the unknown of the future with a feeling of vulnerability. As they are an unavoidable part of life, the question arises: How do we cope with transitions in life?
How do we cope with transitions in life?
Everyone develops their own coping mechanism. What works for one, might not work for the other. Here are just a few suggestions that might inspire:
1. Recognize that transitions are hard because they can shake your sense of identity.
We naturally define ourselves in part by our surroundings. When these surroundings change, it can be disorienting. And that’s OK. It usually is a phase, and it shall pass, too.
2. Being in a transition is an opportunity for growth.
Take a look at the parts of yourself and your life that you most value – how can you bring those parts of yourself into your new role? Transitions are an opportunity to begin practicing new habits and ways of interacting with others. And more: looking at yourself and showing up in the world differently. Better. With more self-love, respect, and trust – it all be alright.
3. Remind yourself that you can choose how to feel about the change or why you chose to make the change.
In the midst of feeling a little lost during a transition, it can be easy to regret. When you see the big picture, it helps you move from feeling overwhelmed to understanding that this is a temporary adjustment, and while it’s difficult now, you are willing to go through some uncertainty and discomfort for long-term gain. It’s not that “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” no. It’s that you grow stronger, wiser and more experienced.
4. Recall other times in your life when you’ve successfully dealt with transitions.
What helped you get through that period in your life? Looking back, how do you feel about the past decisions you’ve made? What were you proud of, and what would you have done differently? Reflecting on your past can help you make good decisions as you move forward. It can also help understand that you have the power within. Everyone does. So do you.
5. Shift your focus.
When you’re in transition, it’s easy to become overly focused on yourself. One way to shift your focus is to look at others who may need your help or join a community of shared interest. And trust that whatever happens, it doesn’t happen to you – it happens for you.
6. Part of what helps you feel secure in transition is having a support system.
Make an effort to stay connected; being able to share how you’re really feeling can be a tremendous source of strength.
7. Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
I once signed up once for stretching classes when dancing and elaborate contact with people seemed to be just too overwhelming. Stretching required me to go inside of my body and seek a sanctuary within. Sauna. Cold showers. Sunbathing. Trigger point and deep tissue massage. I felt all of these physical experiences helped me cope with the emotional pain I was having. I was the kind stranger, who would just walk in and be so 100% present in my own body, sometimes even drying up a tear here or there. Yet I felt that taking care of myself physically, helped me relax and cope with pain more effectively.
And above everything, bring or maintain some heartlightedness and sense of humour to playfully reframe situations, let go of what stopps you to move forward, to excell, and to self-enahnce by seeing life as a process, a dynamic and full of surprises one, and one that can be laughted about as well.