Tips for Navigating the Space Between
Are you finding yourself in the midst of Transition? That uncomfortable void where one thing has ended and the new has not yet begun? Transitions are often preceded by loss. It could be the loss of a loved one through a passing, the end of a love relationship, or the loss of employment. Transitions can also follow important milestones, such as a move to another town, a new place of employment or our children leaving the nest. Anytime we find ourselves asking “Now what?” we are probably in a period of transition.
Transitions by their very nature are uncomfortable places to be. As humans, we like routine and predictability. We love to know that tomorrow will bring the same steadiness and comfort that today has delivered. We spent a great deal of energy trying to avoid the discomfort of not knowing.
For most of us, transitions are the place we want to avoid hanging out in. We stay in relationships long after they are healthy for us in an effort to avoid the unknown and uncomfortable possibility of having to navigate this world alone. We try to hold on to our children as they prepare to leave the nest. We stay in jobs that no longer feed our soul, because starting over somewhere new, making new friends and learning new tasks, seems too daunting. Living life in this protective, yet half alive state feels less scary than jumping feet first into the unknown.
If we cannot find a way to avoid it, we try to rush our way through it. Those transitions that are pushed on us are often the most difficult to navigate and are the ones that challenge our spirit the most. The death of a loved one, the end of a relationship we were not ready to see end, losing a job that we loved, chronic illness, those are the places where the void can be felt the hardest. Often times, it leaves us on the floor, devastated, scared and alone. We want to rush through it and get to the other side. We jump prematurely into new relationships, we find unhealthy coping strategies as we try to numb out the pain and fear of the unknown. There is however a way to navigate through the void in a way that honors what was and prepares us to be in a healthy place for what is to come.
Now that you are finding yourself here in transition, what are some strategies you could employ to make this place of transition be the place of rebirth and a newly expanded version of you? Ready to claim your new reality and jumping at the chance to say “YES!” to the next phase of your life?
Honor Your Feelings of Loss. All losses are difficult. Children heading off to College is of course a wonderful event, but that does not mean that there isn’t also the loss of family life the way we knew it to be. The end of a relationship, even if the relationship was not a healthy one, is still a painful loss. We mourn the hopes and dreams of the future we imagined. We might have a hard time forgiving ourselves for the demise of the relationship or for staying in it long after it stopped being healthy for us. If we allow ourselves to feel the pain, without the attachment of the painful stories, we can allow our feelings to move through us. Many times we avoid feeling the pain, because we feel as though we may never stop crying. What keeps us trapped in the cycle of pain though, is our reluctance to feel the immensity of it. Loss demands to be felt. If we avoid the feeling, the feeling gets bigger until it becomes overwhelming.
Learn about yourself. Take this space between not anymore and not yet and dig deep into your own psyche. What makes you tick? What makes your heart sing? What scares you? Who are you? Can you feel compassion for yourself? Can you dig a little deeper to find who you are at your core? These are wonderful questions to explore with wise friends, a life coach or therapist. Take this time to really get to know yourself. What are you willing to accept in your next relationship? What is your worth? How deep is your capacity to love yourself? There is so much wisdom and growth to be had in transition, that if we use this time wisely, we can expand and grow and become more fully who we are.
Keep moving forward. If there are things that you have always enjoyed doing, but you lack somebody to do them with now, due to the loss of a loved on or the loss of friends, do them anyway! Yes, the first time you go to a movie by yourself might feel awkward to you. Going on your first solo road trip feels vulnerable and a bit scary. What will happen though, is that when you do the things you were afraid to do alone, your confidence grows, your capacity to find joy in your life grows. Happiness and self reliance should never be attached to other people. They truly are an inside job. Think of the pride that will be the reward. Imagine how much more alive you will feel! How much bigger your world will be! Every time we shrink back in fear, our world gets a little smaller. Every time we step boldly out of our comfort zone, our life expands.
Try something new! Is there something you have always wanted to learn, but were unable to do so in the relationship, as a busy mom or with a demanding work schedule? Use this time to experiment. Sign up for classes, join a women’s group or a book club. Find a community to be a part of. Yes, walking that path alone can be difficult and awkward. Any new situation, is only a new situation the first time you do it. Afraid of entering that Yoga class alone? You will enter it for the first time only once. Does that not already make the thought of doing it feel easier? Every person in that class had to walk through that door the first time…. once.
Yes, transitions are hard. When they are over, we are happy that they are over. Would it not feel wonderful though, to look back at what was a painful transition and be able to say to yourself….YES! That void was the birthplace of me! That lonely place is where I found myself. That transition propelled me into a bigger and bolder version of me. I rose to the occasion and the Universe met me there.