Successfully Managing Life Transitions
Change is fundamental to our existence, and yet, we often spend a considerable amount of time either avoiding it or stressing about it.
Whether change is good or bad, wanted or unwanted, planned or unplanned, it still can be stressful.
In order to understand why we dislike change so much, we need to know that our mind -the subconscious one that is- hates anything new and loves everything familiar. We are species wired to avoid change through evolution: change in the day and age of our ancestors, used to represent the unknown, literally, which was synonym to danger. And thus, we evolved through all these years fearing the unknown, hating to change.
Our subconscious mind does a great job at being our protector, at resisting anything new and unfamiliar, and making sure to emit an alarm response when it senses a new, unfamiliar situation: we start feeling a ball in our throat, we get nauseous, our heart races,… These are all signs that our subconscious mind is raising the alarm for us to keep away from the new and stay in the old, even if the new is good, useful or beneficial to us.
New is new. Our subconscious mind’s main goal is to protect us, to keep us alive. Happy or not.
And this why I see many of the clients that seek me out struggling to get out of their comfort zone, dwelling in an unfavorable situation, drowning in a new environment, not being able to get back on track or cope with a new event. That is how powerful their subconscious mind is at protecting them.
Bouncing back after a new transition and resuming a rather normal life is no easy task. Read on to learn a thing or two about how to cope with it.
Examples of Life Transitions
- Getting engaged/ married
- Pregnancy / Becoming a parent
- Divorce or relational separation
- Leaving parent’s home/ traveling or moving to new home
- Empty nest syndrome
- Loss or change of career
- Health changes / serious illness
- Significant loss (person, pet, or anything important)
Signs and symptoms that someone is not coping well with change might include:
- feeling like they can’t cope, either with a specific problem or task, or just in general
- constantly feeling under pressure or that they are being weighed down by others
- feeling lost and unsure of oneself
- feeling anxious, irritable, moody or upset much of the time
- not wanting to engage in social activities or attending school
- sleep problems or restless sleep.
Life Transitions- How do you Cope?
Accept that change is inherent to life.
Without change, our life courses would be tasteless. You may not be seeking change, but when it seeks you, take heart in the fact that no one’s life ever stands completely still. One major lesson I teach my clients in the course of their therapy and healing journey is to learn to switch the meaning of the word change to opportunity. When they do that, change stops becoming a threat to our subconscious, which then welcomes the newness and facilitates that transition. Remember, with change comes an opportunity to evolve.
Take time to reflect
Taking some time to reflect on where you’ve come from, what the change means for you and what you’re saying goodbye to provides space to honor what you’re leaving behind and to process what the transition means for you.
Choose how you look at this transition
Find positives in the situation, even if they are small. Every detail counts. Think about your potential, the possibilities, or the payoffs that may come with this change. Remember a challenge that you overcame in the past. You can do it again! However, if you are struggling with intense fears and major anxiety to change, your inner beliefs or internal programming might have been skewed at an earlier point in life. You may have unconsciously acquired in your younger years the notion or belief that change is bad. And this belief kept on running your life all along. That is the very reason why, in a situation that requires coping with change, your automatic response -or your subconscious feeling mind- kicks in and alerts you to that danger. Luckily, we can change all that with the help of deep and new therapies like Rapid Transformational Therapy or RTT. I use it with my clients to undig these limiting beliefs and upgrade them to more useful ones. The shifts are very powerful.
Stick to your Routines as much as possible
Routines ground us. They give us a sense of stability, a constant. And in the midst of your life transitions, they could be your only way to stay connected to your pre-transition life. Avoid skipping your yoga class, stick to your eating habits and sleeping hours as much as possible. This works a wonder, specifically with my younger clients who have a hard time with transitioning to a new environment. With the help of behavior modification techniques, I try, along with their parents, to keep the same rhythm, activities and waking hours and minimize disruptions during this transition.
Prioritize Yourself in this transition
Engaging in self-care activities ensures that you and your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being are a priority, which helps to minimize the risk of burnout.
So, go ahead – have a warm bath, make that nutritious meal, read the book you’ve been meaning to for a long time, call up a friend you’ve wanted to reconnect with. Just choose even one thing that will make a positive difference in how you feel and try it today.
Reconnect with deepest held values
When feeling lost through the unknowns of change, try anchoring yourself to your deepest held values; particularly, the values that relate to this change. What is this change in the service of? Ask yourself how you’d like to be moving through this change? Knowing the reality that uncertainty is a part of it. How would you like to be treating yourself and others?
● Last but not least, ease into the new environment as slowly as you can.
Moving into a new home or new school does not have to be abrupt. You can plan on completing that transition over several days or weeks even, depending on the life transitions itself and the members of your family. For those who struggle with coping with transitions, I typically assist them in mapping out the steps for spreading that transition phase to fit their needs. They might visit a new school at first. The next step would be to visit the teacher. Next, they could spend a shorter amount of time in their classroom on their first day, increasing slowly, ect…
Bottom line is, life transitions can be completed smoothly and successfully. Preparing, planning and going about it slowly will alleviate most if not all of the difficulties associated with a new event in your life.