Change, we love to hate it and invest a significant amount of energy avoiding it. Yet if we can learn to manage the process, it can be our most important path to growth and greater life satisfaction.
Some change is subtle, some change leaves you feeling blindsided. There’s no question that when life throws an unexpected detour at you it’s only natural to feel disoriented and more vulnerable to feelings of anxiety, frustration, depression, sadness and at times even guilt.
The one thing all change has in common is that the quality of your experience will depend on the attitude you bring to the process. You can meet change with protest and resistance or with acceptance and grace … the choice will always yours to make.
We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~Joseph Campbell
The Nature of Change and Transition
While the words are occasionally used interchangeably, there is a subtle but significant difference between change and transition.
Change is the external action and circumstances of what is happening to you, for example changing jobs, moving to a different part of the country, the end of a relationship, having a child, adopting a healthier lifestyle, or starting your own business.
Transition, on the other hand, is the internal process that you must go through in order to adapt to change and the new circumstances it presents. It is managing this internal phase of change that has the potential to create the biggest challenge, but also the greatest opportunity for growth.
The 3 Stages of a Successful Transition
Phase 1: Letting Go of the Past
The first phase of a successful transition is coming to terms with what will no longer be a part of your life, and as basic as it may sound, the importance of this phase cannot be underestimated because, regardless of whether you initiated the change or it was thrust upon you, it’s the first step of altering your mindset and moving from resistance to acceptance.
If the change has to do with creating a healthier lifestyle that could mean recognizing and accepting that your beloved glazed donut and coffee on the run out the door each morning is no longer acceptable; or acknowledging that you’re going to have to stop pressing the snooze button and give up an hour of sleep in order to make time for your morning run.
Another example is having a child. As joyous as the occasion is, there are nevertheless many areas in your life that will never be the same, particularly your level of personal freedom to come and go as you wish.
Of course, some changes are far more painful than others, for example, there’s the passing of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, or adjusting to physical limitations as a result of an illness or accident.
Regardless of the nature or severity of the change, in order to free yourself to move forward you must first accept the change and let go of what will no longer be a part of your life.
Phase 2: The Internal Process
This phase can look and feel like periods of idleness or even depression where you might feel like you’re trying to find your way in the fog. Think of it like spending time in your own cocoon while you rewrite your life story with a new and better ending.
As frustrating as this phase of transition can be, it’s extremely important to give yourself permission to give into it because this is a natural part of the transition into a new and better reality.
Phase 3: Embracing the Change
The third phase is all about regaining your forward momentum. It’s not necessary to have all the answers at this point merely that you have come to terms with the reality of the change and are able to focus on building the future.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. ~Maya Angelou
Change is inevitable in life; however growth is optional and is always up to you. The more aware you are of your feelings and what matters most to you, the easier and more rewarding the transition will be. By giving yourself time to adjust to a change … letting go of what was, celebrating the good and forgiving the bad … you open yourself to all of the possibilities for the future … and you may just discover your new reality far exceeds your previous vision for your best life.
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald
Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.
She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.
To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click “here“.