Navigating Life’s Transitions

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Transitions occur throughout our lives on a regular basis, but they can cause us to be troubled and confused no matter what our age. Many times I have asked myself the question why is this? Because change is inevitable. But it is a rare occasion when I see someone embrace it. Over the years I have helped many people through different types of transitions all the while wishing there was more that I could do, it can be very tough.

Examples of life transitions are:

  • Accidents.
  • Buying a house.
  • Changing jobs.
  • Divorce.
  • Getting married.
  • Having a baby.
  • Leaving for college.
  • Relocation
  • Moving out of one’s home into a Retirement Community.
  • The death of a loved one

Carol W. Berman, M.D. – the clinical professor of psychiatry at NYU Medical Center in New York City has 8 tips for navigating life’s transitions that I think can be extremely helpful for everyone.

  1. Realize that transitions are inevitable. There is no use in wasting energy to stop the changes. Try to accept the change.
  2. Another choice: Instead of being passive and letting changes occur, try to be active by anticipating what could happen, how you could make it better and how to solve problems as they surface.
  3. Adjust your usual schedule around the transitions. For instance if you have trouble sleeping as winter passes into spring, set your alarm to wake up earlier so that the light shining through the curtains doesn’t disturb you as much and you are more in control of your sleep cycle.
  4. Take the time to acknowledge the past, the present, and what you believe is the future. This time out may feel like a waste, but it will allow perspective on the situation.
  5. If you find that anger or sadness, or some other strong emotion is holding you back, acknowledge the emotion. These emotions are pathways to a deep intuitive part of ourselves that needs to surface and be dealt with.
  6. If you are able to break the transitions into smaller pieces you may deal with them better. For instance, a person who is moving into a retirement community may go and visit a few times before moving. He/she would be able to talk with other residents and the staff, ask questions, look around, and eat a meal there to become more comfortable with the new environment. When a major change is broken down in this way, it is not so overwhelming.
  7. Reinforce each positive step you take towards the transition. Credit yourself mentally and reward yourself with something special.
  8. Educate yourself about what this transition means to you. Are there some positives that you haven’t considered? Think about the pros and focus on them.

I think that we all should try to be happy when change occurs, but if that is not possible there is one thing for certain, things will change again. That is life. I have decided to enjoy things as much as possible whenever I can and I am going to take up on some of Carol’s advice when it comes to the tougher transitions. How about you?


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