Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Private Nature of Transitions

The transition process is challenging whether it be a divorce, loss of a loved one, or loss of a job. What makes it even more difficult is the fact that the light is shining on you. Eyes are on the person going through this change. With that come opinions, judgments, and projections. So, now you have a person trying to manage her own grief, sense of loss, confusion, and uncertainty and you are adding the harshness of other people’s judgments and expectations. It is a poisonous combination.

When my clients are going through challenging transitions, I always ask them to be gentle towards themselves. This gentleness is not because they cannot handle the challenge, it is because a transition is just as much about a birth as much as it is about death.

A new person will emerge from this change, this new person has to go through the stages of growth just like a new born baby. In order for the new born baby to thrive, it needs to be cared for tenderly.  Just like a new parent shies away from crowds, staying home and immersing himself in the care and love of his new baby, people going through transitions need to be with themselves away from crowds.

And just like a new parent who is getting bombarded with unwanted advice, the new person emerging from a transition, needs to be shielded from unwanted advice. It is not that advice itself is of no value. It is just that the person is being reborn, recreated, and unsolicited advice can be rough and even damaging to their new creation. They need to figure it out by themselves.

When you lose a loved one, you are not only facing their loss, you are facing the “you” without them. This “you” is someone you are not familiar with. This “you” needs to form its own roots and become what it intends to become without the tweaking and twisting of others, free from the pain of loss. This process takes time and requires patience and gentleness.

Losing a job isn’t so much about losing a source of income as it is about losing who you were when you were employed. When people come at you with: “oh, you can now stay home and be with the kids”, or “you can retire now”, or “when my cousin lost his job, he…”, it is denying the opportunity for the new “you” to form in its own way and on its own time. They have their plans, suggestions, expectations, judgments, assumptions, and advice, and you are trying to learn how to wake up being the new you. You have your own demons, inner critics, judgments, confusion, beliefs, and doubts. You don’t need to carry on their’s.

So, if you are going through a difficult transition, remember that it is an intimate and private process. You don’t have to share your plans with anyone else. You can graciously bow out of being in the spot light. This does not mean shutting people out. It means nurturing yourself by being in the company of those who can be gentle with you. You don’t owe anyone any answers. When you know you are ready to share, then and only then, you can choose to go in the spotlight. Your baby is a toddler now and it can certainly thrive through playing and engaging with others!
If you are going through a challenging transition and are uncertain about how to be, what to say, and how to keep it all together, you may want to work with a spiritual life coach. Spiritual life coaching is about creating a safe space for exploration, learning how to be gentle with yourself and the freedom to express thoughts that you might be afraid of expressing to those who have agendas of their own. Contact me for a complimentary 30 minute coaching conversation to determine if you would like to work with me.

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