Losses are endings that close a chapter in our life.
We usually don’t want to make that ending and we hold the door open as long as we can. Sometimes we put a door stop in while we hurry on so we can go back if we want to. But there is no going back. And when we try, we find everything has changed – it isn’t the same.
As we gently close the door of what was, we enter a transitional phase which William Bridges defines as a “neutral zone”, where our focus shifts from the past to discovery of who we are today and a new beginning.
Transitions create a lot of anxiety because when we close the door on what was familiar we are faced with the unknown.
While this period of inactivity between endings and new beginnings may seem unproductive, it is a bridge we build between the old and new. It is a time to be alone, but not necessarily lonely; a time of waiting and wandering before planning for the future. We re-think who we are and what we value before putting shape back into our lives.
If you are making a transition, take some time to examine old interests and passions. What lost dreams have you forgotten or abandoned? Is this a time to rethink the possibility of doing something about those passions and dreams? Here are some things to consider:
1. Make a list of all the things you have wanted to do. Ask yourself: How would I feel if I was doing them now? What would it take to accomplish it? Write down the pros and cons.
2. It is easy to get discouraged. Write a letter of encouragement to yourself. “Dear. . . Tell yourself you are pleased with all the things you have accomplished in the past. Remind yourself that although things may not be the same, you are learning how to use your skills and talents in a new way.
3. Try something new. Is this a time to find a new path unseen before? Give yourself permission to fail and try again. We place unrealistic expectations on ourselves and then feel disappointed when we don’t meet those expectations.
4. Avoid critical self-talk: “I’m so stupid”, or “I screwed up again” or “I never do anything right”. Create hope and faith statements. Copy some from a book or favorite scripture verse. Post them everywhere and repeat them throughout the day.
It is estimated that major life transitions take from 18 months to 4 years to complete. We want it to happen right now. We may take many detours going back and forward many times and experience many losses as we take on new beginnings. Know that is normal and okay.
©2013 Marlene Anderson