Coping with life transitions
Whether we like it or not, we are constantly faced with the unknown in our life. And the the realization and anxiety of the unknown is often most stark during a period of transition. Just when we get comfortable with where we are at, something can change and disrupt how we have come to know the world and where we think we fit in. These transitions can include being let go from a job, losing a loved one, or moving to a new country, new city, new neighborhood. They can also be times of excitement, like the birth of a child, graduating or getting married. Navigating the wildly rich, inspiring, unnerving and vulnerable space of being in between endings and beginnings does not have to feel scary or intimidating. Here is what I have found has helped me and helped my clients.
Find your purpose:
Victor Frankl said “Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.” And I truly believe all of us need to know our why. When clients come to see me during times of high anxiety because they are in this transition period, I find that working on getting clear on their values and their own personal mission is impactful. It is a great reminder as to how much the world needs people driven by the smallest acts of principle and dedication. Purpose can be big or small. It can look like “I want my family to be healthy.” It can be as simple as “I want my neighborhood to be safe.” Or it can be more specific - “I want to work with children with special needs.” Purpose can be changeable and there is no right or wrong. It is your purpose and it is waiting to be articulated! And when reservations surface or anxiety lurks during this time, remember your purpose.
Call on your tribe:
Transitions can be lonely. Call on the people that will love you, pick you up when you fall down, hold your doubt tenderly and be the ones to remind you of your purpose when you might forget. And community can look and present itself in the most unexpected ways. It can also be the voices that you have never met in person but their words and lyrics feel like a life raft in a wide open sea. Who are your people? Who are the voices that nurture and encourage you? A trusted counselor can be one of those voices who can help you find your way back to center.
Practice self care:
Moving from one stage in life to another requires a fierce practice in turning inward and healing yourself. It’s ok to be kind to yourself during this time period. Being kind to yourself is a practice and it takes repetition and manifests in small ways. It can look like a bath, a walk along the Burke Gilman, a Menchies froyo, blasting your favorite song in the car. As Audre Lorde said “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” and in these challenging, fraught and uncertain times we live in, it is a must.
Purpose, tribe and self-care. Think of them as guiding lights during the sometimes uncertain parts of life called transitions.
Jaya Ramesh is a therapist who works with individuals, couples, and families.