Change and Life Transitions are part of life. Change is inevitable and we all know that life doesn’t remain the same, even if we want it to.
Some of life’s changes are gradual and just seem to happen like reaching adulthood, middle age. Others are planned, anticipated like moving out of home, entering the workforce. Other examples of life changes and transitions include: buying or leasing a house/apartment, changing jobs, starting a new relationship, ending a relationship, getting married, divorce, having a baby, moving to a new city or country, celebrating a milestone birthday, retirement, selling a house, having an accident or serious illness, significant loss (of a person, job, pet, or anything important), becoming an empty nester.
Regardless of whether life transitions are anticipated, planned, unplanned, sudden or unwanted, they can cause a level of stress as well as grief and require us to accept and adjust to a new reality as we say goodbye to life as we knew it.
In Psychologist’s William Bridges book ‘Transitions. Making Sense of Life’s Changes’, he writes that ‘transitions begin with an ending and end with a beginning’. In between each ending and beginning is a challenging stage, where things are uncertain, unpredictable, and can often feel unstable. It is this middle ground between the end of something and the beginning of something else that we find so challenging.
Transitions Can Change Lead To Personal Growth
Most of us believe that we cannot deal with unplanned or sudden changes. We anticipate and worry about the ‘what ifs’ of life. We worry about the change and whether we can cope and ever feel some sort of normality again. Working successfully through these difficult life changes and transitions can help us grow personally and emotionally as we become stronger, more confident, and better prepared for what may come next in life.
It’s important to allow ourselves the time and space to reflect on what we’ve learned, how we’ve coped and if anything in life is better as a result.
Here are a few strategies to manage, cope and grow with life changes and transitions
- Acknowledge that you are in a life transition phase and life as you know is changing
- Expect and accept feeling uncomfortable – accept and validate your emotions
- Allow yourself time to grieve for what is changing
- Maintain some routines and familiarity in your life where possible
- Look after your physical and mental health. Sleep well, eat well, exercise and nourish your mind with calming and mindful practices.
- Avoid changing other things in life. It takes time to adjust to change and so try focusing on one change at a time…where possible.
- Learn more about your change so that you can reduce your stress arising from the fear of the unknown.
- Keep connected with others – they can provide support, advice and guidance about the change.
- Be patient with yourself and the change
- What does this mean for me? Where to from here? Are there any positives from this change?
Try these strategies and also tap into your own wisdom about how to navigate and cope with life’s many changes and transitions. This may help you to get through the difficult ‘in betweens’ of the old and new stage of the transition, emotionally stronger and prepared for what else life has in store.
William Bridges – ‘Transitions. Making Sense of Life’s Changes’