None of us can escape loss. Life's challenges are universal and eventually will find us. Whether you're moving to a new city, leaving for college, or experiencing a divorce in your family, having life throw a major curve ball can leave us longing for the way things used to be. Yes, there is often grief and pain associated with these transitions, especially the surprise attackers, such as losing a job, or discovering we have a serious illness. It doesn't matter whether a life transition evolves slowly over time or is forced by an unexpected event; we have to plunge ourselves into purgatory. Life transitions can be periods of enormous personal and psychological growth. Instead of falling into fear or avoidance, we can realize that every change we faceóeven the most difficult and painfulógives us an opportunity to receive the miraculous gift of self-realization. It is a golden opportunity to reinvent ourselves and find wholeness in our lives.
Just when you think you've fallen completely to pieces, your inner guidance system can and will help you understand that loss is only what you make of it. Rather than deny it, become a victim, or reach for whatever addiction you feel may cover up the agony, you can actually learn to embrace your pain. In so doing, you will realize that everything that happens to you, every situation in which you find yourself, represents a lesson that could teach you how to take the next step forward in the actualization of your selfhood. Growing up is all about learning to leave some things behind in order to embrace the new. In fact, transition periods can become some of the most exciting, creative, and even liberating times of our lives. They can become catalysts for our personal evolution by forcing us to face every issue we have ever avoided facing, thereby uncovering the essential truth about who we really are. This is the true meaning of spiritual renewal.
If you are in the middle of a transition, take a deep breath and know that by supporting yourself during this time you are setting the stage for a brilliant new phase in your life. In my book, Life in Transition: An Intuitive Path to New Beginnings, I suggest many ways in which you can not only move past the fear and embrace the change, but come out on the other side better and stronger than ever. Below are seven suggestions for moving through any life challenge.
- One Day at a Time. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it's time to change time zones. When you stop stewing over the past and fretting about the future you will suddenly find that your challenges are much more manageable. Focus on what you can do in the moment each day, here and now. When chaos is swirling around you, your normal routine will become a stabilizing force. Just getting up, getting dressed, and going to work can provide you with a sense of comfort. Naturally, there will be some routines that change with your transition, but try to hold on to as many as you can so you don't lose your footing entirely. Every change brings something new and beautiful into your life. Simply do the best that you can every day and take time to be kind to yourself. Go slow. Rest. Eat well. If you had the flu, you would make time to heal; it's no different in cases of the heart and soul.
- Why...Not. I get it. I for one have an almost obsessive need to know why something happened, because I don't handle ambiguity well. But I've learned the hard way that the answer is not always what I think it is, and it sometimes takes months or years to discover why I went through what I went through. I have also come to realize that many of my perceived failings were simply that: perceived failings. And sometimes transitions just can't be analyzed and thought out. Someone telling you that everything happens for a reason usually doesn't help; even if it does, it doesn't help you move past it. Often, there is no logical explanation and it doesn't really matter why it happened. Let's face it: life is not fair. And if you really want to know what you did to deserve what happened to you, the only answer would be that you were born. You can't change the past; all you can do is learn from it and move on.
- Be Optimistic. A shift in perspective can work miracles. I know it's easier said than done, but try to focus on the positive aspects of this life-changing situation. The healing process has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You will get better. You will survive. Saying affirmations by rote won't help, but if you can find one that resonates with you, stick with it. Some thoughts to help you through a troubled time may be, "This too shall pass," or, "I know things will get better," or, "When life gives me pits, I plant them and grow cherry trees." Anything that helps you look at the bright side and move through the crisis is beneficial. Remember that God's rejection is also God's protection.
- Listen to Your Intuition. Your intellect is how you process your challenges, but your intuition is how you will experience them, and ultimately walk through them. Knowledge can help you understand the pain, but it's your inner voice that will guide you towards the wisdom you will gain from it. No matter how subtle the changes and shifts you are going through may seem, you must sit quietly and listen intently to your gut reactions. When you don't know what to do next, your internal guidance system will naturally lead you to the next step, whether or not it seems logical at the time. Let your heart guide you. It generally knows what's best for you long before your brain does.
- Don't Force Yourself to Heal. Being in a transition of any kind is a process. You can't walk around it, or slide under or over it; you have to move through it. Some people will fight the process tooth and nail, so they can hurry up and get to the other side. You can try that. But eventually your psyche will fight back, usually by becoming angry or depressed, anxious or physically sick for much longer than necessary. Accept, and if possible embrace, the changes you are encountering. They are all part of the body's natural healing process. You may think you know what stage you are in within the transition, but then again, maybe you don't. The unsettled feelings that come with transition are uncomfortable, but you can't jump ship at the first sight of land. You want to plant yourself firmly on a solid foundation and not a sinking island. Allow yourself to mourn meaningfully. You might as well do it right the first time.
- Take Time to Go Inward Every Day. Surrender to the fact that the Universe may have a better plan for you. Take time to allow yourself to make room for miracles to happen. It doesn't matter what your faith may be, but it is imperative that you seek the still, quiet voice within. Grieving your old life, even in minor transitions, is to be expected. You are simply letting go of all that was and all that might have been. This is normal and an important part of the healing process. If possible, write down your feelings and then write some more. Journaling is so cathartic during life transitions; it is good for your soul to release your churned-up emotions.
- Find Support. If you start to feel as if you are no longer in control; have a history of emotional difficulty; or find that you are turning to drugs, alcohol, or other abusive substances, it's time to reach out and get help. There is no shame in asking someone to help you maneuver the bumps you will encounter. Asking for help is not a cop out, or a sign of weakness; in fact, it takes a great deal of courage to ask for assistance when you need it. Also, finding others that have gone through a similar loss can provide a great deal of support and guidance. Just remember that anyone can offer you advice, but only you know what is right for you.