What Now? Transition to Transformation
Transition is so uncomfortable and scary! But it happens throughout our lives - over and over again. So, why do we NEVER feel prepared???
All transition is an invitation for transformation, but that doesn't just happen. It takes focus and attention.
Join in today and listen as we pull apart this topic of transition, crisis, transformation and evolving. And let's talk about why it feels terrible and what could help with that... and also, specifically who can help us in the middle of it all.
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Question… I know it’s a podcast and I can’t see you but humor me… raise your hand if you have ever faced a major life change, for which you felt completely prepared.
You know, maybe something like total career change, marriage, divorce, parenting, life-altering illness.
And just past the crisis of it all, you looked back and thought ya, I nailed it.
I wonder how many hands are raised. I’m guessing not too many. My hand is not up.
And I think there is a good reason for that. Not too many of us go into or through big transitions feeling prepared. But we all go through transitions. And they often tend to send us into a tailspin, spiraling out of control.
But you’d think that since we all go through big changes and transitions, we’d be ready for them. They’d at least seem more normal, normalized as a life experience we all have, and usually more than once.
For some reason though, we continue to feel surprised by transitions, and unprepared to handle them.
Has anyone ever sat with you though, at any point in your life and said, “listen, I want to teach you how to be prepared for big life changes”?
I don’t ever remember that happening anywhere along my journey to now.
It’s like when we say to children, “pay attention”. Do any of us really stop to teach them what that means and how to do it?
No. We just say it and think somehow they should know how to do it because we told them to do it.
Well, that’s the same kind of thinking as coming into another transition in life, feeling unprepared and then thinking, “what is wrong with me? Why do I feel like I can’t handle this?”
Well, we often don’t think about it enough to learn how we did it before and how we can do it again. We just survive it and then move forward when we are able to. When the crisis of it all has passed.
All transitions can be experiences of transformation, but that doesn’t just happen. Having the experience of transformation is intentional and needs effort on our part. Because inside every transition is an invitation to transform, to evolve, to grow.
But that doesn’t happen just because someone told us to “pay attention”. Someone also has to give us some clue as to what that looks like.
And believe it or not, you can google “steps to transformation”. And you will find pages and pages of articles that say:
10 steps to transformation
6 steps to transformation
4 steps to transformation
I mean obviously we want to look into the 4-step process. Seems like it might be a time-saver and we can get right to being a new person faster.
Some steps are all laid out to all start with the same letter. That’s fun.
And then we have the articles on speeding up your transformation. Because no one has time to do anything extra in life. With all the laundry, and the kids, and work… who’s got time to evolve slowly? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
The google search really is a reflection of where we are in life.
We don’t want crisis. We don’t want discomfort. We don’t want to take the time to grow.
We want to avert anything but comfort and just level up be grown.
And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we celebrate people’s achievements. We celebrate the fact that they have survived, have grown, have transformed.
But we still shame people and make them feel inadequate, like a failure along the journey of transforming.
Listen, many times when we get to a transition in life, it’s not our doing. We are faced with something life has thrown at us. An injury, an illness, an accident, some sort of crisis that has emerged in our experiences.
We may not have chosen it. But what we do about it staring us in the face is now what we must decide.
Other times we do choose to be in the situation we are in. And it’s not for any negative reason either. In fact, it’s positive. It’s something really great but it still comes with so much change to reckon with.
Marriage, going back to school, changing careers, parenting.
How or why, something comes into our life demanding to be dealt with is initially less important. Realizing that it’s here and needs our attention means more to how the outcome is going to look.
I meet people everyday who are on a journey of transformation. But they don’t walk into my office saying that.
They come in and sit down and tell me about something terrible that has happened. They tell me about something they are currently experiencing, or something they have experienced that is really affecting them. It’s a crisis. It’s affecting their ability to live and enjoy life day to day.
I’m not sure I’ve ever had anyone sit down and say, “now let me tell you about this exciting opportunity I have to grow, evolve, and transform”.
Cause it never feels like that!
They don’t come in and say, “now this is what’s going on in my life and it’s hard and uncomfortable and it feels like the biggest thing I’ve ever faced, but I’m prepared!”
No, we come to the crossroads of a transition in life, and it feels like a crisis and sometimes it is. And we stand there and say, “I don’t know if I can do this. This just might destroy me”.
I’ve never met anyone who I thought might not make it through whatever was going on in their life. I’ve met people I thought were at risk for giving up on themselves, who might hurt themselves, who’s life was a risk because they didn’t think they could make it through.
But I’ve never heard of a situation that was bigger than the person sitting across from me.
Here’s the thing about why a situation feels like it’s just too much, and why it doesn’t feel like anything to do with growth in the moment.
All transitions and new beginnings start first with something else ending.
And what do we know about the ending of something? That involves grief.
We forget this sometimes when we are faced with a transition, especially one that is supposed to look exciting and so great.
New marriage? That’s the end of being single. That’s the end of being completely independent in your decision making and knowing that you think and make choices that affect you and you only. Now it’s all about you and your partner. Many things will change now. Many things will end now, and must, for this new beginning to take shape.
I remember finishing school. This is what I had been working towards. The papers were done, and the exams were finished, and the assignments were behind me. This is what I had dreamed of since starting school.
But that meant it was time to say goodbye to classmates and teachers that I had spent years with. They became part of my every day. I said goodbye to my identity as a student. I knew who I was as a student! I didn’t know who I was now. I was really good at school. I didn’t know if I would be really good practicing what I had been learning to do. I was saying goodbye to my confidence as a student and hello to insecurity as a counsellor.
And those moments of saying good-bye didn’t feel like an exciting opportunity to grow. Those moments just felt like fear and sadness. It was an exciting time FULL of new opportunities, but first… the grief of something ending.
And this piece matters very much for those who will be sought out as support people too. We need to stop saying to other people, “hey, what’s wrong with you? This is great. This is fantastic and going to change your life. Why are you so negative about it?”
What if we could learn to say something else like, “yep, this is scary. I’m so excited for you and what’s going to come next, but I totally get that this is also the end of something in your life, so it makes a lot of sense that you’re feeling that too”.
We already said that we will all experience transition, and we will over and over again throughout our lives, so doesn’t it also make sense that we could normalize ALL that’s involved. The grief and the excitement. The fear and the enthusiasm?
I meet people in the grief and in the fear and in the anger etc. And so much of the healing happens and growth starts to begin, just in us normalizing those feelings.
Let yourself have that. Give yourself permission to say goodbye to what was, so that we can then focus on what will be.
So many of us are trying to go through the transition and into transformation dragging behind us the old stuff we were supposed to grieve.
If you don’t grieve being single, but drag it into your marriage with you instead, you will be bitter about NOT being single, every time there is any issue with your partner.
Because embracing the new WHILE carrying the old, is too heavy. And it makes us tired. And how many of us are at our best when we are tired?
I know I’m not! But I wouldn’t be able to fix my thoughts and feelings and behaviors by having a nap either. I’d have to stop and focus, pay attention if you will, to see what I’m carrying from before, making it too heavy to handle now.
And I have to be aware of the fact that when we are uncomfortable, we tend to cling to what we know, what’s been comfortable. So, we cling to the past.
But clinging to something that is no longer reality, doesn’t bring you the answers you were looking for. It brings more grief.
In a time of being uncomfortable, due to change happening in our life, we need to surrender control of the situation. We look within to what we have to make it through this, within, not behind, and we need to look to others to help us too.
We need to look within ourselves and look to others to help us answer a big question that change, and transition evokes. And the question is this:
And this is not a question to answer, based on what you think SHOULD be the answer.
This takes a lot of honesty.
Here I am facing something new and really hard. I’m scared. I’m sad. I’m tired. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I can do this.
We can’t journey through transitions alone. Again, we are often taught to try and do all the suffering, grieving, hard parts quietly and alone.
Get a hold of me on the other side, I’ll celebrate with you!
You need to know who will journey with you. Who will walk the part when you’re grieving. Who will walk the part when you’re sad. Who will be there with you when you’re tired, and grumpy, and tell you to go have a nap. And then they’ll be right there for you too, when you wake up again.
Our community is so important. And it’s made up of so many different relationships within in. I’m happy for you if you have your coffee friends. Happy for you if you have your holiday gathering family.
I really want to know though, if you have those people who will tell you what you don’t want to hear… but need to hear.
I want to know if you have those friends or family that will love you enough to make you mad in the moment, because they were right, and it needed to be said.
Who loves you enough to tell you the truth?
Because we need coffee date friends. We need those times of just having fun or being comforted or feeling warm and fuzzy.
We need or holiday people too. We need to know we have somewhere to go and somewhere to be when it’s time to be surrounded by people.
But who are your people who love you enough to disagree with you and challenge you?
I don’t have a lot of those people in my life. But I do have them. And you don’t actually need a ton of those people, as long as you do have it.
You need a special someone who isn’t afraid to smack you right in your flawed logic. That’s love.
We need people who will message us saying “thoughts and prayers”. We need someone who will leave a casserole on our doorstep. We need someone who says, “meet me for coffee”. But we also really need someone who will ask us questions like, “are you sure that would be your best move right now? Is that really going to get you where you want to go, or make you feel better for just a minute? Is that really the message you want to send to yourself or the world?”
These people are the people we can ask hard questions of and get real answers to. Questions like, “where am I not seeing the big picture here? What are the things you see here holding me back, keeping me stuck, having me afraid? How do you experience me?”
If you ask these questions of those who make casseroles only, or drink coffee with you only, they will say you are absolutely perfect… and it’s everyone else who has a problem.
Which feels great but doesn’t help.
The last thing we need when facing a major transition, is a fake smile or a superficial pat on the back.
We need to know who people our are. We need to know the truth. We need permission to feel the grief of the old thing ending, and we need to be accompanied through the new thing beginning.
If you aren’t facing transition right now, you will. Something will disrupt your life at some point. More than once.
When your next transition hits, will you consider that you have what it takes to turn this into transformation? Will you look within and be honest with yourself and your thoughts and feelings? Will you consider who your community is and who will meet your needs vs comfort you – knowing both are important but may not come from the same people? Will you allow your transitions to change you, in ways of growth and evolving, even if it takes you through grief first?
That’s how we survive what we are faced with, saying goodbye and then hello, but also welcome. Welcome to a new world, with a new me, facing new things, in a new way. And I am unstoppable. I can get through this. I will get through this. I am getting through this.
Like I said, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t bigger than the transition they were facing. No one listening to the sound of my voice lacks what it takes either.
Find your community, find yourself. Your transformation will happen. And it will be amazing. But before you look at who will celebrate with you, look for who will walk the journey with you. All of it.
This is Tina saying thank you, for coming through another episode with me here today. This good-bye for now, but we will speak again soon.