Transition is a time of change and there are ten steps that are really good to be aware of when you know change is happening, whether it is change you have chosen, or you feel it has been foisted upon you.
At home it can be children going to their first school, leaving home or getting married; one partner gets a new job; moving house; a new baby; divorce; moving countries; a change in health of any family member; death of a family member or friend; a change in diet.
Essentially, of course, we are going through changes continually. But they are often so small we only notice the big ones that have more of an impact.
Whatever change is happening for you right now, observing these 10 steps will help you negotiate the change more easily and smoothly.
1. Take your time.
Transitioning from one set of circumstances to another is a time of uncertainty. By definition you are no longer the person you were, and are not yet fully the person you are becoming. This is a process that takes time – so don’t push yourself, and let the process unfold all by itself.
2. Arrange temporary structures
Temporary structures will support Step 1. If you can, don’t make hasty decisions regarding your living accommodation, your job, or even your relationships. Creating stability or permanency may be desirable as a way of calming any anxiety that is raising its head, but it’s inappropriate right now. Instead, focus on calming down and releasing the anxiety or other concerns using techniques such as yoga, mindfulness practices, meditation, or creative pastimes.
3. Don’t act for the sake of action
When in transition, the mind (which is geared to your survival and safety at all costs) finds it very difficult not to take action. Nonetheless, action is likely to be inappropriate at this point. Take small steps rather than big ones if action is necessary; and discern whether you are acting because you are simply uncomfortable with your situation or whether it is really needed.
4. Recognise and acknowledge why you are uncomfortable
Be brutally honest with yourself about what is really going on. Tell the truth (to another person if that makes it easier) about what has happened and why you are in transition. The acknowledgement in itself will help lessen the discomfort.
5. Take care of yourself in little ways
Make a list of what little ways you like to take care of yourself. Print it out and pin up where you can easily see it. Make sure you do one of these ways each day. Examples of ‘little ways’ could be: candlelit baths, walking in the countryside, a nap during the day, going to bed earlier than usual, special foods, stopping work when you are tired, being creative, having your hair cut, a foot massage, meeting a friend for afternoon tea, listing what you have got in your life, rather than what you haven’t, choosing 5 things you are grateful for in your day at the end of each day, treating yourself to something you wouldn’t normally do.
6. Explore the other side of change
Be willing to explore all aspects of change, and its outcomes. Be brave and enter into scenarios (both positive and negative) about what this change may mean for you. Remember that this particular transition (especially if you don’t like it) may turn out to have hidden benefits.
7. Get someone to talk to
This means finding someone who will just listen. You don’t need their advice – you do need their non-judgmental, listening ears and heart. The old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ has a lot of truth in it. Professional help is even better – it is deliberately one-sided (ie the professional is supposed to just listen to you, there is no two-way exchange going on) so you can relax into taking all the time you need without feeling guilty or that you ‘should’ be listening to them.
8. Find out what’s waiting in the wings of your life
Explore gently what may be round the corner for you. Put on your big girl (or boy) pants and peep round the corner or into the wings of your life and imagine the best. Be open to opportunities. You could even decide to say ‘yes’ to whatever is proposed to you for a period of time, and see what happens. Try it for a day and see what happens.
9. Use this transition as an impetus to a new kind of learning
Take a step back from your life by writing about what has happened for you in the 3rd person. If writing is not your thing, then create a video or MP3 recording about it. The crucial thing is to use the third person (as in ‘What happened to (your name)….’ as opposed to ‘What happened to me…’) Doing this will enable you to see more clearly what is going on, to discover any common threads in it, or links to similar past events, and to get a new perspective about your life. Embrace the new kind of intelligence that is available to you when in transition.
10. Recognise and understand that transition has a characteristic shape:
Finally, embrace what is going on in the best way you can and remember: ‘This too shall pass’.