How to Deal with Major Life Transitions
Change is hard. Little changes can be hard. Like, switching doctors when your old doctor knew everything about you. Or, getting a new puppy. But it is the big changes that are most shocking to us as we navigate through life. There is big change that occurs during each life transition. Changes like, marriage, divorce, moving to a new city, getting pregnant, or losing a job. This type of change can feel shatteringly life-altering and often times, it is. Knowing which tools to use during which circumstances can make all the difference. It is the difference between slumping down in a puddle of tears (which may not be totally unhelpful). And, mindfully taking a breath, and starting to tackle a plan of action that will help get you through it with flying colors.
Change happens in all facets of life. In adolescence, change is basically the main factor in life. The change you feel throughout your adolescence prepares you to handle bigger change in your adult life. The changes that occur in your adult life may make you question your current life situation. For instance, they may make you question your goals, aspirations, or re-evaluate yourself or your surroundings. Even more, there is so much uncertainty that comes with change and the unknowing of what will happen next. Overcoming these major life transitions can breed anxiety, fear, and depression. Thus, it is critical to learn proper coping mechanisms and ways of adapting to change with ease, patience, and loving kindness.
Major life transitions can come to us in many different forms throughout our life.
Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist and scholar believes that each life transition is a “call to action” from the universe. He states that every individual receives many life-altering calls to action throughout life. Each one poses a different threat to security such as losing a job. Or disrupts the comfort of ordinary life as we once knew it such as, losing a job. Calls to action however, are very powerful. They remind us that change and life transitions are just that. Transitions. They do not need to shake us to our core and deconstruct or unravel our lives completely. Conversely, life transitions can propel us into action and make us stronger than we were before.
Therefore, if you commit yourself to your call to action, you will uncover hidden powers. Ultimately, you might find insights that move you closer toward reaching your fullest human potential.
Now I invite you to ask yourself this.
Are you undergoing a major life transition right now? Do you need guidance in navigating through the change? Do you have fear? Do you have greater concern than the concern for yourself? Do you have anxiety about your future? Do you have doubts about your ability to complete your goals?
If you answered yes to any of the questions, then I invite you to read the following with care and attentiveness. Whatever your fears are it is important to acknowledge those fears as your calls to action. Just as Joseph Cambell’s infamous Hero’s journey refuses the call, you too must move past that refusal and lean in towards your demons. You must move past your fears and attempt action. Only then, will you become aware of all you are capable of.
Here are our tips on how to deal with major life transitions:
1. Trust Yourself
If you are dealing with major change, you might be making up every excuse in the world to blame the circumstances in your life for it happening to you. This is normal, but it is not helpful. Rather than blaming others or your environment, focus on what you can change within yourself. You can trust yourself. You can change your attitude and you can change your behavior. You can also change your despair into purposeful action. When one door closes, another one opens. Trust in your own ability to make a decision to choose which door to open and to take action once you open it.
Be gentle with yourself during this time of transition. Things are up in the air. Life feels incomplete. It can get messy. This is a time of contemplation. A time of being patient with yourself. A time of allowing yourself to indulge in life’s little pleasures. Make yourself feel good by taking a bath, going for a nature walk, or eating a piece of pie for dessert if you want to. Projecting strength and fearlessness when that is not our truth does no one any good. Sometimes, it is ok to cry and admit that we don’t know everything. When we show our vulnerability and our weakness, other doors and often people, will open. It is surprising how often people enjoy offering help to us in times of great need.
3. Acknowledge and Embrace the Change
When one door closes, another one opens. During a big transition, think about all the ways this could positively impact your life. Yes, it is important to feel everything that comes up. But, it is also as important, if not more, to embrace the change at hand. Further, the more we embrace the change, the more we take action and move forward. Have confidence that no matter what happens, you can handle it. You are fully capable of adapting and embracing the unknown.
4. Be present
During transition there are so many moving parts whirling all around you. And, there are so many unknowns. It is crucial at this point to bring yourself back to your truth with mindfulness. Invite a sense of calm into your daily routine. You might take up yoga or meditation to become more present. Or, you might simply leave your phone behind and take your dog or yourself for a nice walk everyday to stay present. Enjoy the new connections with the world and with yourself during this time of transition. Ask questions. Do research. Take notes. And, always remember that transitions are reminders that we are capable of anything. They offer opportunities for us to grow and learn from these transitions.
5. Ask for help
Often, we forget to ask others for help when we really need it. We think there is a stigma against asking people for help. Society has painted a picture of weakness on those who can’t do everything for themselves. This is wrong and often has the opposite effect. Let go of some of your normal activities like laundry or dishes and ask for help. If you are feeling stuck or distressed about a new task, reach out to others for wisdom or guidance. Even more, no one knows if you need help if you do not communicate it. Being able to communicate what you need gives people a sense of worthiness in your life. People like to be helpful. Also, this lets them know how strong you are that you are capable of asking for what you need.
6. Be Flexible and Have Realistic Expectations
So often in our lives we have unrealistic expectations of how things should go in our lives. Or what they "should" look like by a certain age. Stop this. If you were to ask yourself 5 or even 2 years ago what your life would look like, I bet your truth is far from your answer. These expectations and comparisons to other people’s lives do us more harm than good. However amazing you think that Instagram yogi’s life is, you have no real clue of what that person is going through. So save yourself the energy spent worrying and start reflecting. Take note of what you have right now that you can be grateful for. Chances are, the things in which you are most grateful for, you didn’t even plan did you? All these wonderful opportunities and blessings we are gifted on a daily basis often are what we never imagined. So stay true to yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others. And, be flexible. Rewards come when you exist outside your limitations.
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