“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but we rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” –Maya Angelou
Change is the constant companion of life. Some changes result in major transformations while many of our changes are minor. It is important to recognize that change of every type is a source of stress. Even exciting new beginnings create stress responses in the body. With this knowledge, it is advantageous to learn how to embrace the steps of change. Learning to make transitions smoothly reduces stress. Resisting and fighting change magnifies stress. The choice is ours.
Some changes are planned and desired, such as weddings, graduations, promotions, retirement, and so forth. What many of us overlook is that these new beginnings are also endings. One way of life is ending so a new way of life may begin. All beginnings mark the end of something. Even changing a habit requires that something must end.
There are endings that we don’t desire, for example, being fired from a job, loss of our health, loss of a home, the death of a loved one, and so on. Although it may be challenging to see in the moment, these endings mark new beginnings—a new way of life. Every change, large or small, includes an ending as something new begins.
I gained in depth knowledge regarding the process of transformation while serving as a certified hypnotherapist. There are three primary components involved in transformation; they are: what is ending, what is beginning, and the adjustment to the change. The challenge in managing transition is that all of these phases are occurring simultaneously. In most cases, you don’t have the luxury of handling one step at a time. In successful transformation, there is a dance moving us from one foot to another. Loss, adjustment, and new beginnings are interwoven.
Here are a few pointers that may help you move through changes in your life. First, recognize what is ending and do your best to honor the loss. This process may be long when the loss involves death or other significant life changes. Grief is a process that requires awareness, and it includes more than one phase. Realize that we grieve losses of many types. For example, welcoming the first child into the family is a joyous occasion. However, the couple loses the pleasure of focusing exclusively on each other. Even though the baby is welcome, the couple must adjust to changes in their relationship.
Second, allow time for mental and emotional adjustment to change. This adjustment period may be uncomfortable, and it could appear unproductive. For an unknown amount of time, depending upon circumstances, you are redefining, or perhaps even reinventing your identity. Consider the transition that occurs upon graduation. Your identity as a student suddenly ends, and the new lifestyle of career building begins. While you were a student, you developed a familiar routine around your identity. When school ends, a significant identity transition occurs. For a brief time, you may struggle to find yourself and develop new routines.
Whether the transition you are making is major or minor, be gentle with yourself as you move through the adjustment phase. The renovation period is often a time of insecurity. Sometimes we want to go back to the way things were before the change. If we didn’t initiate the change, we may feel angry and defiant. We might deny the need for the change. We might feel disconnected from others or ourselves. The good news is that this phase will pass. One tool that helps us through our momentary instability is to recognize the power inherent in renewal. Ask yourself, who am I in the present? Who do I want to be? Then, breathe deeply and remember that change serves us in many ways.
Next, remember what is beginning. Every ending and every change marks a fresh start. Find the creativity and inspiration present in each transformation. Feel the joy and excitement of change. This phase of transformation is a healthy celebration of what is arriving. Planned and unexpected transformations offer the opportunity for extraordinary growth. Remember that every moment offers the chance for a new beginning. To foster the creative spirit within, remind yourself that my life begins today.
In conclusion: change happens, adjustment takes time, resistance is stressful, and acceptance is helpful. In the face of major change, accept that you have closed a chapter of your story, or even a book, and you are starting fresh. Above all, be as mindful as possible in each phase of the transition dance. Be like the caterpillar: The process of transformation brings forth your untold beauty.