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Monday, July 22, 2013

Life Transitions

Dealing with change
 Life transitions (changes) abound throughout life.  You could say the biggest transitions and the ones with minimal interaction from us are at the beginning (birth) and at the end (death).  Yet the transitions in-between are the ones that we have to understand and learn to adjust to.  Some we can control, and some we can’t.
Examples:  If your wife or girlfriend wants to separate from you, you may try to fix the situation, but failing that a separation is in the cards.  If the company you work for wants to let you go (fire you), you may well be beyond the point of saving your job.  If you are deep in debt living from paycheck to paycheck and you get citation for driving while under the influence; your finances are about to get worst, your insurance will increase, your license might get suspended (that you could have prevented).  However, once it happens, you will have to tighten the belt and ride it out.  Perhaps one reaction could be; that was dumb if not stupid, and I might have killed someone or myself (also known as the silver lining).
Here are some words of wisdom from an expert: Major life transitions -- moving to a new city, becoming a parent, retirement -- can be an exciting and invigorating part of life. Yet transitions, even happy ones, can also be stressful and bring up mixed feelings.
·       Recognize that transitions are hard because they can shake your sense of identity. We naturally define ourselves in part by our surroundings. When these surrounds change, it can be disorienting. Getting married changes your identity from a single person to a partner. Having a child changes your sense of identity from wife or daughter to now include being a mother. A new job changes your identity or role at work. Carrie, for example, was delighted to have been giving a promotion at her company. Her new position had more responsibility, which she liked, but as a manager she no longer had the peer team she was used to working with. She missed her former colleagues and felt overwhelmed. 
·       Being in transition is a wonderful opportunity for growth. Take a look at the parts of yourself and your life that you most value-- how can you bring those parts of yourself into your new role? Next, look at the areas of yourself that you'd like to make changes to. Perhaps you've been neglectful of some important area of your life. Transitions are an opportunity to begin practicing new habits and ways of interacting with others. 
·       Remind yourself why you chose to make the change. In the midst of feeling a little lost during a transition, it can be easy to regret your decision. Why did I break up with Dennis? I'm lonely and it's hard to find someone new. When doubt creeps in, review the reasons you made your decision. 
·       Recall other times in your life when you've successfully dealt with transitions. What helped you get through that period in your life? Looking back, how do you feel about the past decisions you've made? What were you proud of, and what would you have done differently? Reflecting on your past can help you to make good decisions as you move forward. 
·       When you're in transition, it's easy to become overly focused on yourself. One way to shift your focus is to look at others who may need your help. If you're at work, it may be a coworker who you notice is having a bad day. If you're in a prenatal yoga class, reach out to another mom-to-be that seems like she is having a hard time. Making an effort to support others helps you remember that everyone struggles at times, and that human connection can be a powerful aid in helping get through it. 
·       Part of what helps you feel secure in transition is having a support system. Make an effort to stay connected; keep in touch with your family, call up an old friend who lives in the area you just moved to, volunteer or get involved in an organization, ask a new co-worked to join you for lunch. Find people who you can really talk to; whether it's a trusted friend or close family member, being able to share how you're really feeling can be a tremendous source of strength for you.- Dr. Shannon Kolakowski Psychologist, Relationship Expert, Author

Avoiding unnecessary transitions is a good idea, but many people insist in making their own mistakes, and that has always been and unfortunately won’t be changing anytime soon.  Amongst the bigger transitions in life that create the most stress:  in no particular order, relationship change (break-up), change of residence, death of a loved one.  The best is yet to come….

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