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A bridge takes you from one side of a divide to another.
When you are transitioning from a loss, you need to build a bridge from your ending to a new beginning.
Making a transition from unwanted endings is never easy. In fact, it can be very painful at times.
After the death of my husband at a time when our professional careers were diminishing, my loss created enormous changes in my life. Yet, as difficult and unwelcome as this loss was, I made some important discoveries about myself that resulted in new meaning and enjoyment for life again.
You might think the time spent here can only be repetitive and unproductive. You just want to move on. But the work done during this time can be invaluable. It can keep you from repeating the same mistakes or continuing to apply outdated and outlived information to your life. This is a time when new options pop up that you would never have thought of or considered before.
Making a transition is never a linear path.
It goes back and forth from what was to what is today and continues the process of acceptance and letting go and rebuilding.
Change is as important to our health – mental, spiritual and physical – as the air we breathe. Yet I am constantly amazed at the deep resistance we have to change.
We can’t go back and glue the pieces of our life together again. But we can pick up the pieces we need and find a new way to connect them.
At a workshop I gave a number of years ago, “Turn Your Gravel Pit into a Beautiful Garden,” I described how we can take the ugliness of our lives and turn it into something beautiful and positive. I used the example of the Butchart Gardens in Canada.
Those of you who have visited the site will remember the awe of that incredible garden that was once a huge gravel pit. You would never have thought it possible until you viewed the before and after pictures posted by their gift shop. It took an idea, turned into a vision and then a plan to make it happen.
No matter how bad the past, no matter what was destroyed, in the rubble that remains are the materials to create something beautiful and new. You are the architect and designer.
The same is true when we have suffered a great loss.
What we see in the moment is our whole life turned into rubble. But out of the remains comes a new beginning if we are willing to make it happen.
As you reflect on the ending you are completing and building that bridge to a new beginning, tell yourself that you are making some wonderful discoveries about yourself while exploring possibilities and potential for your future.
While experiencing distress you will feel anxious and sometimes angry. But you do not have to stay in that emotional space. You can choose to respond differently. You can use your emotions to work for important change.
However, if you think you MUST change something in order to feel better, you can get caught up in an emotional cycle of hurt, frustration, anger and resentment.
It is liberating to know that you have the ability to change how you think and respond to all of life’s circumstances.
Yes, you will get angry.
Yes, you will get disappointed.
Yes, you will at times want revenge.
But remaining in any of the states is not beneficial. Choose instead responses that move you forward.
- Choice gives us freedom and responsibility
- Choice gives us options
- Choice requires awareness, acknowledgement, and acceptance
- We choose our attitudes and the way we want to respond to life
- We choose our behaviors – how we treat other people – we do not have to treat others like they treat us
- We choose how we want to believe about ourselves and our world.
5 bridge-building questions
Here are some questions you can ask to help you build that bridge. As you review and reflect, you’ll gain a better understanding of yourself, your abilities and possibilities.
- What part of the past is keeping you stuck, preventing you from moving forward?
- What fears are keeping you from crossing the bridge to a new life?
- What old beliefs, lifestyles, life scripts, assumptions, expectations, etc. are prohibiting you from exploring new options? (Life scripts tell us what we should do, have to do or must do.)
- Who do you want to become? Give yourself permission to explore.
- What new vistas and opportunities can you envision? Start making a list and expand it every day.
Also, review my blog posts on that topic.