Transitions often start with denial and resistance
- Denial – I’m in control, I know what I’m doing!
- Resistance – what worked before will work again!
This thinking causes us to get stuck – we can’t go back and we refuse to go forward. The opportunity to grow from the transition is lost, but it doesn’t go away. If we are lucky, the next time the transition presents itself we are ready to “take it on”. If we are not lucky, the need to transition will be stored away in our cellular memory, along with the other transitions we denied and one day we will be compelled to take action – loss of our job, a heart attack, death of someone close, divorce, a disabling injury. And so, our denied transitions will begin as we take stock of our new situation.
The Phases of a Transition
Transition is a 3 stage psychological re-orientation process that people go through when they are coming to terms with change.
- It begins with an Ending with people letting go of their old reality and identity.
- Next is a Threshold. A time and state when old behaviours and attitudes die out and people go dormant as they prepare to move in a new direction.
- New Beginning.
The ending has 3 parts. a) Reflection on how things have changed, b) Envisioning a new future and c) Letting go of old beliefs, assumptions and ideas that could hold you trapped in the past.
a. Reflection – how have things changed?
Consider your current mental models. What has been working for you; what has not been working? How you have been, how you have been expected to be, show up in the stress you feel. Some stress is necessary for survival, but much of it is situation induced. Now is your opportunity to let go of the stressors that don’t work for you.
b. Envisioning the Future – looking inward
What is your picture of the future? What do you think the outcome of this Transition is going to look like.
During the Threshold phase of a Transition you will be spending some time ‘looking within’, and in the New Beginning phase you will be guided through a variety of ideas and activities that will help you envision that future very clearly.
c. Letting Go
What are you holding on to as you transition to this new future? Old ways of doing things will pull you back. The past got you where you are now. New situations call for new ways. How else could things be?
This is a time for an Inner Journey. A time to develop an awareness of your unconscious mind. Everything you have done so far has been at the conscious level – a level we are comfortable in because we are in control of our thoughts (or are we?).
In the Threshold you have an opportunity to listen rather than control; to listen to your body, your emotions, your thoughts and your interpretations of events and feelings. It is an opportunity to be the Observer of your life.
From your Threshold experience you will be able to consider images, ideas and intuitions about the future. You will begin by considering how you would like things to be and will start to redefine the person you want to be.
You will identify your goals and your purpose in this new phase of your life and will start to behave in a way consistent with those goals and purpose.
If we try to ‘shortcut’ these phases we find that we carry with us a lot of old baggage and that baggage stops us from embracing the new. Our whole life thus far has been conducted according to the thoughts and beliefs we hold.