Sometimes, you will be punch blind-sided in the face by an unknown force that will knock you off your feet and on to your backside. It doesn’t matter what you may have known before, but after one of these, it is without a doubt that when you get back up your perspective and life as you know it will never be the same.
In the last two months, I’ve been dealt first hand, a major deck of intense change: the end of one relationship and the beginning of another, moving out of an apartment in the city and moving by ferry to a cabin in the woods, my first real experience of a dear friend passing away suddenly, a new work position and re-evaluation of my business, and new perceptions of my identity and purpose in life. Through all this, I can confidently say that I am thriving during this time, and these experiences have taught me a thing or two.
Your life may feel like a dramatic movie at this point (mine sure did!), no doubt it’s asking you to take notice with great observation, consideration and contemplation. Now, this dramatic shift could lead to a positive or negative experience; sometimes it’s hard to tell which it exactly is when you’re just regaining your clarity of the situation. It could be anything from a death, a promotion, a pregnancy, relocating for a job, a spiritual awakening, to falling in love. Dramatic moments of change in our lives leave many people ill equipped in the transition of one life chapter to the next, everything seems out of your control and in many ways it is.
However, how you choose to respond to life is your greatest gift and power. It is important to use it wisely during these challenging times, as life is asking you to decide who you are going to be.
Whatever you choose, some will help you thrive and rise during these transitions, and some will cause you more discomfort and may even drag you into suffering.
So here are 5 ways to thrive in major life transitions:
- Take everything in strides, be present and go with the flow!
While you’re in the thick of it you’re going to lose all bearings, and you’re most definitely not going to be able to predict what will happen next. So, the only thing you can do is pay attention to what is going on NOW. That means be present and take strides in your decision making by being aware of the new information as it arises!
This is calling for your adaptability skill to the fullest; go with the flow. Don’t resist - it’ll only make it harder on yourself. Life is asking you to trust the direction it’s taking you because you have the ability to walk it with grace; find the rhythm and dance to the music!
As you gather more information and as time passes, the pieces of the puzzle will start forming a bigger picture and from there you’ll begin to get your bearings back. With this new ability you can gain some foresight into the situation, giving you an opportunity to adapt with more ease and enjoyment.
- When you’re feeling confined or overwhelmed, look at yourself in the bigger picture.
One way is looking at the bigger picture from your past to present. And remember you’ve gone through challenging times before and that you’ve made it out alive. You probably have forgotten most of what the struggle was like, especially if the outcome was a good one, even if it wasn’t - we tend to think that our current challenge is always the worst. So, you’re going to be just fine this time too - you may even do a better job at adapting than before and come out with a winning situation.
Or, you can imagine yourself at the end of your life looking back at this situation and ask yourself if it was worth it to be under this much stress. Whether or not you could’ve changed your physical, emotional, mental or spiritual approach to the situation so you lived with no regrets. When you see the bigger picture, it can help change the immediate and limiting perspectives.
Also, go outside and find some quiet natural space. Take several deep breaths will full exhales, look up at the open sky and literally remind yourself of the bigger perspective. When feeling confined, don’t physically confine yourself further - it’ll mess with your psychological and emotional health, causing more discomfort and unnecessary suffering.
- Learn to see and believe the real opportunities for positive growth and trust in yourself.
This is the truth. You can either see your major life change as an opportunity or an obstacle. Depending on which one, you can either rise out of a challenge or suffer in it. Now, to be very clear, it is up to you to decide what those real opportunities are. This means being realistic, honest and looking at the bare bones of the situation and answering these two questions: “At the very least … and, at the very best…” Then truly accepting this for yourself, because no matter how it actually turns out, you have already defined the opportunities that you can gain. Anything better is icing on the cake!
You can trust yourself. You can elevate the situation, give yourself enough credit that you’ve come this far and that if life is handing you more lemons it’s because you make a damn good lemonade that is unique to you! Take pride in your journey, have courage to keep going, and believe that whether you can see it or not - you’re guiding yourself to living a life as the person you want to be.
- Have a tangible sense of gratitude for each moment when you’re in the thick of it.
Gratitude is an acceptance of life’s blessings, which then becomes your power source. If you don’t know how to be grateful, there’s no better time when things get tough. It’s so easy to slip and fall into victim mode - the champion of not-thriving in major life transitions. It’s basically the blame of all things happening to you, when in fact you are co-creating each moment in your life.
Gratitude, when you can truly feel it in your being, allows you to live the first three points above with that much more ease. It will literally remind you that you have the power to thrive in this situation because you are open to receiving the blessings and bounty that will come out of it.
Now I know this may seem like a lot of fluff, you may be going through a very challenging time. But gratitude gives your life worth and meaning, with meaning there is purpose, and purpose is the driving force of the human spirit. Otherwise, what is the point of living if the very essence of it is not worth it? Being grateful for all aspects and situations of your life is a power source to creating a full and content life.
- Stop doing things you don’t need to do and focus on your health. And ask for help.
This goes for both the lazy procrastinators and the active anxious.
To the lazy procrastinators - life is literally going to pass you by if you don’t engage with the situation or the situation will get more challenging while you do nothing to change it. You’ll sit in discomfort and begin comforting yourself with things that are not good for your health. This may appear in a lot of junk food, escaping in drugs or alcohol, Netflix binging or maybe extreme shopping. This will only create a bigger hole for you to climb out of when you are going to have to eventually engage in life - and your physical, mental and emotional departments will be in need of a serious upgrade - creating more work for you. This is a dis-service to your self and your life, ask for help and get support so you can take care of your health. With a sound body, mind, heart and spirit - you’ll be surprised at your ability to thrive.
For the active folk who feel like they need to fill their time with all these other activities because “There’s so much to do,” “Nobody else will do it,” or they “I need to get it done.” The only need is to stop, re-evaluate, and ask for help. What are the priorities that actually need to be focused upon in the moment and where do you need to share the load? If you don’t do this you will burn out and you will not be able to focus your energy where it is most needed - on your wellbeing and the major life change you’re going through.
Finding a healthy balance will take time. It’s important to recognize when you need to take a break and have that ice-cream or watch your favourite show on Netflix. Or when you need to get to bed on time and plan your meals so you are well nourished and energized for a busy day. I’m not perfect at this by any means but the force of hand life has given me recently has taught me to learn to practice the balance now.
Life truly is unpredictable and full of surprises, and we are only able to perceive a very small portion of it - the portion that is uniquely lived by us. You cannot solve the mysterious nature of life, but you can thrive while you live it. Know this is just one chapter in your great story, become the creator of your life and decide how the story goes.