We will undergo many changes in our lives, but only a few genuine transitions. Transition is characterized by: Disorientation, Loss, difficult Decisions, a change in Identity, New Relationships, and going onto the next Stage of Life.
Some “normal” transitions are: Birth, School, Adolescence, Marriage, Military Service, Choosing a Career, Unemployment, Disability, Divorce, Midlife, Retirement, and Death. In each of these, who you were before is different from who you are afterword. Your key relationships change. The type of decisions you make, and how you make them, changes.
Unexpected and unusual transitions, such as ones caused by the coronavirus, war, natural disasters, have a similar effect. We may physically recover, but feel spiritually and emotionally at sea. We find we can’t really go back to the way things were before.
1) Always practice self-care. Body, Soul, and Mind, each have needs. Which have you been neglecting?
2) Stop trying to save others. As one book title puts it, “Put on your own oxygen mask first.”
3) Be careful of free advice or commonly held opinions. Listen instead for the softer voices of those you failed to notice before.
4) Know that your leaders, bosses, and trusted guides may change or abandon you. Moses gave way to Joshua in the Exodus transition. Don’t rush to replace your fallen heroes. When the student is ready, the teacher will come.
5) Be honest with others and yourself. Now is the time to hate half-truths and white lies.
6) Focus on your process and the natural order of things. Sense what is healthy, compassionate, and soulful.
7) Don’t set hard goals. Wait to act until you are clear about your destination. While in transition, you are only responsible for taking the next step.
We’ve read the sign. It says “Thwop.” And now we experience Trauma. You can think of poor Ziggy tumbling down the hill. At the bottom he will be disoriented. He may have lost his pack. He has to decide if he will to go to the hospital. For a while, he will identify himself as a victim. He will form a new relationship with whoever comes to help him.
Again, transition differs from change in that it is characterized by:
Disorientation, Loss, Decisions, New identity, New Relationships, and the need to move on to Another Life
It’s really nobody’s fault. When we experience a trauma, receive terrible news, or enter a wilderness period, our natural reaction is to seek an explanation. We begin to bargain with ourselves. If I can just recognize what I did wrong, then I can fix it. Things will go back to normal. Maybe I can talk the boss into not laying me off. Perhaps a change in my lifestyle will take the cancer away. Stop the divorce proceedings, I’ve found a fantastic counselor. Or, “they say, ‘it’s a pandemic.’ But, we’ll find the cure next week and get back to building our economy.” It’s all very much like trying to unscramble eggs.
Self-care in transition often requires a list. In normal times, we take care of ourselves within limits. Work needs done, our family cared for, friendships kept current, etc. We allow ourselves a limited amount of self-indulgence, just to keep sane enough to do the more important stuff. In transition, self-care is vital. There is chaos all around us, we need some time for ourselves.
Make a list in which you specify:
Anxiety is a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension. It is ubiquitous fear. Fuzzy fear. In Anxiety both the thing(s) that we fear and the thing that will make us feel better, is undefined. Anxiety often leads to compulsive behavior and panic attacks.
To paraphrase Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, All normal time is normal in the same way. Each time of transition is anxious in its own way.
Anxiety hates process. It hates it when we simply accept the journey, pack for the wilderness, and trust that we will get through this. Anxiety keeps the mind racing. It wants to skip to the end, or to go back. We have to remind ourselves to put one foot in front of another. Stay calm and work through the transition.