Life is often bigger than your plans. When your schedule is disrupted by unanticipated events, you can always choose how you respond. So, I’d like to invite you to view these changes as special opportunities to grow and broaden your vision of life.
How do you relate to your power when you undergo change?
Remember, when you make a transition, you are transforming yourself. It is natural to feel off balance initially, so go slowly. Affirm to yourself that important learning can temporarily upset your equilibrium. Encourage yourself to proceed gently, with eyes wide open.
Learning about your unique approach to transitions helps you create a pathway of power that is both grounded and balanced.
So let’s start by shining a light on what transitions and change mean to you.
Illuminate your inner landscape to find your footing.
Your transition style intimately reflects your history and hopes. You may bring creativity and initiative to upcoming transitions, especially if they are changes of your own choosing. However, your default responses may also include rigid coping patterns you developed early in life, when you may have been overwhelmed and under-informed.
It’s easy to resort to old behaviors under stress. Unfortunately, reflexive actions rarely do justice to complex demands. So offer yourself a special gift — explore those reflexes and stuck points with curiosity and compassion.
Here are two common “default dances” you might revert to when faced with big changes:
- One is a white-knuckled grip, as you try to manage so much of what’s beyond your control that you burn out.
- The other is losing your grip and allowing yourself to be carried along by the rush of events, as if you were in a spinning kayak without a paddle.
But rest assured, there is another way. The more you assist yourself, the more you evolve. The following guidelines will help you ease the pressure and establish a realistic middle course where you exercise positive control.
Accept that transitions are challenging and disorienting.
Schedule in extra time to adjust; plan on new activities taking longer than expected. Recognize when you feel overwhelmed. Defer decisions until you regain your equilibrium, and be sure to provide yourself with ample time to decompress and debrief.
View your new situation with fresh eyes.
Use journaling and lists to clear your mind and refresh your perspective. Identify what is actually within your control, and what you must simply accommodate as best you can. Know that you may need to revise your assessment periodically. Change is a new landscape. It takes time to learn its contours .
Cultivate sensible serenity.
If your expectations of yourself are not realistic, revise them with care, creating a grounded image of a successful transition. Rather than focusing on a specific destination, envision your process of moving forward. It’s wise to frame success entirely in terms of the quality of your choices, not an endpoint. This keeps the success criteria firmly within your control, and quiets the voices of self-sabotage and self-criticism.
By cultivating a supportive inner dialogue, you bring the best of what is familiar right along with you as you navigate your transitions. Enrich your self-talk with encouraging mantras, examples of prior successes and realistic questions. In this way, you grow as you go!
Simplify big transitions into workable components.
Resist the temptation to lump everything new together. That’s a sure-fire recipe for becoming overwhelmed and feeling more out of control.
Envision the upcoming portion of your new journey, and write down the challenges you anticipate. Brainstorm options for each, and then take a short break. Once you’re refreshed, come back and familiarize yourself with your possibilities. Remain flexible, confident, and alert as you move into your day.
In times of transition, you may not be able to see very far down the road. Knowing this, take the opportunity to focus on incremental progress. Plan small action steps you can accomplish in a single setting, and revise them where needed as events unfold. To help coordinate tasks and re-orient yourself, jot down notes and refer to them as needed. If it’s useful, identify how long it takes you to complete new tasks. This helps you schedule realistically as you “find your feet.”
Remember, your transition is your journey. As you open to the lessons to be found at each turning of the road, you build skills and you enrich and deepen your life!© Copyright 2012 Paula Eder, Ph.D.