Transitions are a special sort of gnarly, confusing beast that shows up in life. On the one hand, transition is always happening. You’d think it wouldn’t be so hard. On the other hand, no two transitions are ever alike, even when you expect them to be. Each one has its own special temperament that spices things up as you move from one stage to another. I figured it might be helpful to put together some general guidelines to help ease the discomfort and confusion of transitions. As always, these are all ideas, and aren’t prescriptive.
- Recognize the transition for what it is. It’s easy to downplay the bigness of life changes and pretend they don’t matter or aren’t hard. But they do matter, and often, they are hard. Recognizing that you’re in transition can make things easier when you find yourself utterly confused and overwhelmed. It can remind you that you have permission to not know right now.
- Make space for it. A while ago, we talked about making space for emotions, and all that applies here, too. Transitions can be tiring, so you might need extra sleep. Or extra do-nothing time. Or extra physical space, maybe away from the city and out in nature. Perhaps extra space in your schedule to allow turmoil to exist for a while, and then for all the dust to settle into whatever new stage you’re moving into. Suffocating a tumultuous time with a packed schedule can make the transition extra-hard. And that’s not what we want for you.
- Process it. I find it helpful to bring thoughtful awareness to the process of transition. Processing can happen in so many ways and depends entirely on your personal style. You can process things by discussing them with a therapist or coach, by journaling, by making art, by talking with friends, by confiding in family, by reading stories or watching movies about people going through similar transitions to your own. You can even integrate things energetically through meditation, acupuncture, reiki and so many other things. Personally, I tend to do several of these things all at once. The more support I can give myself in processing change, the better I feel during the transition, and the more ready I am for what will happen on the other side.
- Give yourself lots and lots of credit. Way too often, I downplay my accomplishments, especially when the accomplishments are mundane things that happen to everyone. I’ve found it works much better for me when I congratulate myself heartily for getting through the period of change. No matter how silly it seems, it still feels delicious to tell myself I did a good job. If I feel comfortable enough, I might also share my proudness with someone safe. It tends to magnify the warm fuzzies.
While transitions might never be as simple or effortless as we’d like them to be, we can at least love ourselves through them by being attentive, mindful and intentional. And as we practice transition in its many forms, maybe, sometimes, we’ll find ease in the midst of it all.
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How do you support yourself through transition? What life transitions are you particularly proud of coming through?