The River of Change
We all experience significant change – where our life is altered forever. Difficult life transitions we choose, or have chosen us, turn our world upside down. We can feel shaken to our very core. Life as we know it is shattered. We can feel lost, alone and anxious in this unfamiliar place.
Transitions are a part of living life and being human. While life transitions are often difficult and devastating, they provide the opportunity for new life and new possibilities. It may be hard to imagine something positive when you are experiencing a “rock your world” transition such as divorce, loss of a job, personal illness, death of a loved one or becoming an empty nester – just to name a few. We must be reminded that in every ending there is a new beginning!
As we navigate this journey we want to find meaning in what we are going through, discover strength and courage to move ahead, and prepare for the new life waiting for us. We want to get back into the flow of life. Here are five key strategies to help you along your journey when you are faced with big changes.
- Be Present – It’s easy to stay busy, busy, busy so that you don’t have to experience the pain of loss that occurs in transitions. Conventional thinking is that we need to “get over it”. Unfortunately this thinking doesn’t work because we tend to suppress feelings that negatively affect our relationships and stymie our growth. Rather than “getting over it“, we must “get through it” to feel whole and happy again. “Be present” means being in the moment with yourself and others. Be aware of what is going on around you. For example, if you are experiencing the illness and loss of a loved one, be fully present by listening, touch, and eye contact. Take in the pleasure of small moments of closeness and connection. When you find yourself thinking about anything other than where you are, take a deep breath and re- connect. Being present allows you to listen to your intuition so you can discern how to approach your situation and your next best steps.
- Acceptance – The change may feel surreal and take time to understand. You may be asking, “Why has this happened to me?” and “What will come from this challenge?” To move to acceptance and embrace the change, be patient and allow yourself to go through the stages of grief. Check out Kübler–Ross stages of grief. Your new place ofacceptance will open a new path for growth. You’ll even experience a deeper connection to the meaning of what you are going through which will help you create your next chapter.
- Connect to Your Core – As we make a difficult transition, we ask ourselves deep questions like “Who am I?” and “Does my life matter?” What might feel like dark times, become rich times to shine light and discover the core of who you are.
- What matters most to you in your life?
- What are your 3-5 core values that give meaning to your life?
- What is your purpose?
- What are your gifts and talents?
- What are your dreams for your life?
Gaining deeper clarity of the core of our being provides a compass for making everyday decisions and guiding our life direction. When we live from our core, we find the confidence to make a bigger difference in the world with more ease and joy. The result is more fulfillment when we are congruent with who we truly are.
- Uncover Your Fears – What are your fears? Be honest with yourself. Let yourself know. Being afraid does not mean you are not courageous. In fact, courage is having fear and continuing to move forward into the unknown. It‘s about being vulnerable and taking the risk even when you don’t know the outcome. When you know what you are afraid of, you can tackle the fears directly, become more accepting of yourself and take action to manage and let go of the fears that may keep you stuck.
- Find Your Stories of Hope – We have all been through significant life transitions. Take time to review other transitions you have been through.
- What did you learn?
- How did this transition change your life for the better?
- What did you do to survive the transition?
- How can you translate other transitions into stories of hope to help you in this difficult transition?
You have survived other challenging transitions. You are still here! What can give you hope going forward whether the transition was your decision or chosen for you? We can find grace in our stories that help us leap forward.
When we make a transition we usually must leave something/someone behind in order to move forward. We may hang on for dear life to what we know, fearing the unknown. However, the shore of possibility and potential awaits us if we untie the boat and set sail even when there is no land in sight. You can get to land again and find your footing with a renewed life and excitement about your future.
Change is the normal process of life. Life is not possible without change. Moving through change can be uncomfortable and feel awkward, yet, it is the only way to move forward. And to end on a reassuring note, the ability to change, adapt and move forward offers us new life and wonderful opportunities beyond our imagination.
About the Author
Dale Beaman, a leadership coach, facilitator and speaker, serves as a catalyst for creating positive change and transformation. She specializes in guiding clients to navigate values, discover purpose and create vision that unleashes potential. Her personal philosophy is “when we live our deepest values, connect to our purpose and find our direction, we experience more meaning, health and happiness.”