Something Everybody Goes Through and Nobody Talks About…
“Your life is a story of transition. You are always leaving one chapter
behind while moving on to the next.” ~ Linda Seidler
I don’t know about you, but change has always been really hard for me. (Yep: even exciting, positive change.)
I’ve resisted it. Feared it. Tried really hard to stick my head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening.
Worst of all, I carried all of this around like a secret. I thought I was the only one having a hard time with change — like I wasn’t there the day they passed out the “grown-up” cards.
Eventually, I realized: change isn’t going anywhere. It is inevitable in this lifetime — and I might as well learn how to deal with it.
So I became a student of transition. I studied change, and learned about it’s rhythms and melodies. I got more and more comfortable with the process of transformation — both within myself and in other people. And I quickly learned:
Transitions happen to everyone. Not one of us will get out of this lifetime without having gone through a major transition — or two or ten.
We don’t talk about them. Our culture doesn’t know how to deal with transition, or support people through them. So we all walk around feeling lost and alone.
Most often, they are really, really freakin’ hard. Growth is uncomfortable, and transitions aren’t all roses and rainbows.
Naturally most of us try to avoid transitions, at all cost. “Transcend” them. Out-smart or sidestep them. Cover our eyes and run home to the familiar, fast as we can.
This is such a shame. Because the truth is …
Transitions – beautiful, painful, and messy – grow us into the fullness of who we are and all that we can become. – Click To Tweet
When we try to avoid transitions — or simply go through them unconsciously — we miss out on vital opportunities for growth. We stay stagnant, and continue living out the same old, unhelpful patterns. Or we disintegrate, chicken out, and go through the motions without reaping the deep gifts.
Your happiness is directly related to how well and resiliently you can support yourself through life transitions and integrate their lessons.
The first step in embracing the power of transition is educating yourself about the process. Through studying this topic in my own life (and through my work with clients), I’ve identified six reliable phases of a transition:
Six Phases of a Transformational Transition:
1. The Preparation:
You feel the change a-comin’. Like the buildup to a ginormous sneeze, you may have a little advance notice. The unrest in your relationship before the breakup; the rumors of downsizing before you get fired, that inkling that you want something bigger before making that cross-country move.
2. The Leap:
The window of opportunity (or crisis) opens, and you walk through it (or get shoved!). You have that life-changing talk, make the call, get the news, or sign the papers.
3. The Uprooting:
Suddenly, you’re in new surroundings … and don’t quite know where you are (or who you are!) Everything feels unstable — like you can’t quite feel the ground beneath you. Things feel a little (or a lot!) chaotic and out of control.
4. The Grieving:
Some transitions contain obvious elements of grief. The loss of a loved one, divorce, miscarriage. Yet even the happiest changes entail some sort of loss — of your old mode of being, your past status quo, or your out dated dreams. You may feel like a part of you is dying, and aching to be grieved.
5. The “Wishy-Washy” Phase:
This is the liminal, the ambiguous, in-between, the nowhere-feels-like-home phase. You know you’re not who you once were, but you also don’t know who you are yet or what you really want. Here, things can feel foggy, unknown, and even “dead and boring.” It’s often difficult to vision, and the future can feel very unclear.
Note: This is the moment when many of us run back to our old ways or cling to the first solution that presents itself — but these choices ultimately rob of us from the fruits of transition. Instead, this phase invites us to listen, to surrender to the mystery, and to be patient with our inner formation … so that we may change and grow.
6. The Integration:
Finally, you start to put down roots in your new life and in your new identity. A “new normal” begins to emerge, the earthquakes subside, your emotions even out, and you start to find some solid ground again.
As you integrate you’re able to look back over the entire transitional process….acknowledging where you’ve come from, how you’ve grown and who you’ve become. You will begin to know yourself differently and live your life with greater meaning, intention and beauty.
While these phases are common, not every transition will move through them neatly or in a linear order. You might move from one phase to the next in a matter of moments … you could be in two phases at the same time … or you could skip from the second to the sixth and back to the third.
Simply understanding the common phases and elements in transitions can support you through them — and make you feel a little less crazy when you’re in the thick of things!
Are you going through a transition?
I am currently offering 3 spots in my new Interior Life Design Program:
Intimate coaching through life’s greatest transitions.
Learning to navigate transitions is an essential life skill, but one we’re often not taught about. I’ve supported countless people through transitions. If you’re facing a life change right now (big or small, happy or tragic), I’d be honored to support you. Click here to learn more.
Reflections for your Heart and Home…
Share your insights and questions in the comments below or explore in your journal.
In Your Heart: What phase of transition are you in? How does it feel?
In Your Home: How do you see this phase reflected in your home?
Stay tuned! Next week, I’m spilling the beans about a BIG life transition I’m currently going through … and what I’m doing in my heart and in my home to navigate it. (Seriously: BIG news!)