Everyone, since the day they were born, goes through transitions. Life is full of them, whether or not we welcome them. The question is not how to avoid them, but rather learning how to welcome them and even thrive in the midst of it all.
What is the difference between one person thriving and the other hiding in a corner, hoping to wake up when it's all over? I believe there are three key factors:
1. Resilience. Webster defines resilience as "The ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens; an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change". I believe some are born with an innate sense of resiliency and go through life much easier. For the rest of us, where change is difficult, I think some basic practices of paying attention to thought processes, assumptions and beliefs can help sort out all the underlying reasons for resisting the change. Therapy can help create new patterns of thinking and behaving as well as understanding where our emotions come from, the triggers set in place at a young age.
For example, if at a young age your parents comforted you when you stubbed your toe or skinned your knee, then you would have built into yourself an ability to self-soothe. This would eventually translate into being able to bounce back from bigger adversities.
On the other hand, if the home environment was a constant source of tension, upheaval and distress, then the individual would be continuously on the alert for disaster, scanning the environment, on the lookout for potential danger. This individual would have a harder time relaxing, enjoying change of any kind and would most likely feel most comfortable in the known: a life of upheaval, tension and distress. In a paradoxical way, having a life of relative ease would feel dangerous and positively frightening, for it is unknown and therefore not predictable in the old manner.
2. Support System. Not all of us are born into a great support system that helps us navigate changes well. However, we can create one. The best way to do this is to be the kind of person that attracts healthy individuals. We are like tuning forks to each other. We are most "in tune" with those who feel and act like we do. This is great, unless the person to whom we are attracted treats us poorly, is abusive, or is generally irresponsible. The first place to look for answers is within. Once we change the "tune" others hear to a more healthier one, we will naturally attract others who have qualities we resonate with: wholeness, joy, love and care for others. Sometimes it takes a person outside the family system, skilled in seeing where the changes need to take place, and help to do so. A therapist is most often the one who can help you make those necessary changes to live a fuller and more joyful life. Those who have always known you have the most to lose if you make big changes in your life.
It is in the process of changing the support system to a healthier one that can be most challenging. Most often, those who have always known you a certain way, don't like to see you make changes, even good ones. This is because then it means they either have to change as well, or lose you as a friend. However, the upside is that the new friends and support system you form is so much better than the old one, you wonder what kept you in that old system for so long. In addition, there will be those who also long for a positive difference in their lives and decide to follow you into the brave new world of joy and happiness.
3. Education/Information. When making changes or going through a transition, knowing what to expect can make a huge difference. Naturally, not all possible outcomes can be predicted, but having knowledge and education on how the change will most likely affect you, helps a great deal. In the process, gaining information on what to do in the event of serious challenges provides a great deal of peace of mind. Sometimes we see things as threatening when they are really full of opportunity. Here is where the training and the skills of a therapist can help you make sense of what is going on in your life. He or she can educate you on the transition cycle, the effects stress has and teach you calming techniques, or help make sense of your reactions to the changes occurring in your life.
For further help and information, please contact me at 720-201-5030