Sustaining Yourself During Transitions
Transitions are those uncomfortable moments between our sense of certainty and the unknown. It’s the moments in the middle where is ambiguity, gray space, and the steps forward are unclear.
We can find ourselves in dramatic transition when a job has ended, we’ve come to a milestone birthday, or a loved one has died.
But milder, even positive, transitions happen all the time – and these moments point our routines in different directions. For example, your child starts kindergarten, you begin a new job, you graduate college 20 years into your career, and so many more.
Transitions can even be moments we take for granted like the changing of the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, the phases of the moon, going from weekday to weekend behavior, or self-care practices.
Our lives are filled with transitions – the state in-between what was and what is yet to come.
So, how do you sustain yourself during this ambiguous in-between state? Do you drive yourself to make things concrete as quickly as possible?
What if concrete actions aren’t possible? What if you could learn to tolerate the ambiguity?
There is so much to be gained and learned during these moments of transition. In fact, these are often the richest learning periods of our lives. They cause us to slow down and if we can see these moments as the opportunities they truly are, we can learn invaluable lessons and make life-enhancing decisions.
Here are some suggestions to help you learn to tolerate the ambiguity of transitions:
- Come back to the present. When you notice your thoughts becoming overwhelmed with worries of the past or future, bring yourself back to the present moment. Perhaps you have a grounding exercise or meditation that soothes you. A kind of music that allows you to settle (My new favorite music is a cellist by the name of Hauser. I listen to his music and feel like my heart is getting a loving massage.)
- Come back to your core rituals. Our core rituals can sometimes fly out the window when times are good, and we are going 120 miles per hour with our hair on fire. Our rituals are there to help us regularly reground and regroup. Do you have a morning or evening ritual that needs to be propped back up?
- Come back to your body. What does your body need to feel alive and vital? Rest, nutrition, and movement are core basics for sustaining the hard times and while we are waiting to get back to the better times.
- Come back to what is most important. What are you most appreciative of in your life? Reset what is most important and remind yourself of the sustaining value of these priorities. For me, it is my family and their well-being, remembering we have enough, and reminding myself we’ve been through hard times before and we will be ok. Do you have a gratitude practice?
- Come back to giving. During times of transition we may feel overwhelmed. Look around. Are there others are who are struggling that you help? Can you drop off at the food bank, can you shop for an elderly neighbor, can you write a letter to a lonely senior? What is your way of giving and sharing?
- Come back to your creative practice. Whatever that art is. Painting, drawing, photography, jewelry making, cooking. Do your art for you.
- Come back to hope. As in life, each day the sun rises and sets, the moon rises and recedes, the weather is crummy then improves, we get sick then feel better. We can count on the cycles in nature to remind us that better days will come back, and we are just weathering the downturn as best we can.
I have noticed recently that many people are downloading a freebie on my website called “The Hope Map”. This is a positive psychology activity designed to introduce you to the power of pathway thinking, while tapping into the motivation to fuel persistence towards your goals. Hope works because it broadens our thinking and fuels our persistence. You can download this freebie here
Stay safe, make art,