Coping with transitions is a natural part of life.
Changing jobs. Becoming a parent. Moving to a new city. Losing a loved one.
The list of all the transitions we can go through in a lifetime is infinite.
Whether it is a change we want or not, these transitions can be tricky.
A few synonyms for the word transition are: transformation, evolution, metamorphosis.
These are powerful words that describe just how enormous and intense life transitions can feel.
Transitions in life can transform us. They take us from who we were and catapult us into someone new, someone stronger.
They can help us evolve. Changes in life help us move away from that place of predictability and plant us in a new fertile environment where we can grow and blossom.
Life’s transitions can produce in us a profound change as we move from one life phase to the next.
But make no mistake, coping with a life transition isn’t always easy. Just as the caterpillar struggles inside the cocoon to become a butterfly, while facing a life change, we must also go through growing pains.
There are many practical things you can do as you’re navigating a life transition to make it smoother:
- You can get support from others.
- You can educate yourself on the details of your specific change.
- You can practice self-care and make sure you are managing your stress.
- You can eat well and try to keep rested.
But there is one secret to coping with life transitions that will help you beyond all others. That is allowing yourself to feel.
Feel your way through your change. Your evolution. Your metamorphosis.
You may be one of those people who, when you’re going through a time of change, just puts your head down and powers through, and you only allow yourself to feel after the change itself has happened.
Or you may be someone who is more sensitive to your emotions and allows them to flow freely in the moment.
Either way is fine. There is no one right way to do it. It is a process. As long as at some point you allow yourself to feel.
Allow yourself to feel and grieve. To grieve what you are losing. To grieve the comfort of how things used to be. To grieve how you thought things would turn out. To grieve the parts of yourself that you’re saying good-bye to.
Even though your change may be for the better, in all transitions there is a loss of something. Even in parenthood where you gain the most beautiful gift, that of a precious child, you are still losing something. You’re losing your freedom and the person you were before that sweet baby arrived.
Listen to yourself and what you need.
And allow yourself to feel your way through the grief. This will enable you to move through your emotions and not let them keep you stuck.
The stages of grief were first proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969 in relation to death.
But whenever we experience any type of loss, there is grief.
The stages of grief are:
They are not linear. You may bounce from one stage, back to the last. Or you may skip some stages all together.
The important thing is you let yourself grieve.
You don’t always need to be happy about the changes you’re going through. Even if they’re positive changes. Or even if you wanted them.
Let yourself feel whatever it is you need to feel as you’re going through life’s transitions.
Your emotions are messages that need to be heard.
Some of those emotions won’t be easy. In fact, they may be painful and your instinct will be to avoid them. But remember, the only way to move through painful feelings is to allow them in. Have them stay a while. Have a conversation with them. Then wish them farewell.
Try not to pretend everything is ok or to numb yourself to your feelings. Allow yourself to feel them, even the painful ones. If you don’t, they will become trapped and won’t be able to move on.
And you want them to move on. You don’t want to stay stuck in the grief, the sadness, the guilt, or the pain.
Once you allow yourself to feel your way through your transition and move through your grief, you will feel strong, and empowered.
You will feel confident that you can do this thing called life.
And confident that you can do it well.
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