Over the last two years, transition and change seem to be hitting me from all sides. In just two short years my son got married, my daughter moved out on her own, and my son and his wife graduated from Gonzaga University, moving to the Seattle area.
On top of that, I left my position this month as the Executive Director of a non-profit serving churches in the area of mental wellness. I spent five and half years building a program with wonderful teammates and friends. It was a job I expected to have indefinitely, but life doesn’t always turn out as we expect.
Why are Transitions Hard?
Above all, transitions are inevitable, but our brains literally fight against it. An article from Forbes magazine explains it perfectly:
“Thanks to neuroscience, a field of study that helps us understand how our brain works and the impact of change on its performance, we know today that the brain perceives uncertainty, volatility, ambiguity and unpredictability the same way as it would when it registers a threat of a lion in the savannah. It activates the exact same part of the brain and triggers the same reaction — an acute stress response (aka fight or flight response) as if we were faced with an actual life-threatening concern.”
Therefore, it’s easy to see why we struggle with change in our minds, bodies, and emotions. It doesn’t seem to matter whether we face a happy change, or a transition full of grief. We feel a sense of uncertainty and a loss of control.
How Do You Feel?
I’m curious to know how you feel during times of transition? Maybe you became a grandparent, changed careers, faced health challenges, or experienced the loss of a relationship. It’s okay to say that change is hard, because it is. Admitting the struggle can help you to be real with your emotions, and connect to God as you process the shifts in your lives. You only need to read the book of Psalms to see how King David didn’t sugar coat adversity or change, as he called out to God for answers, and help in his time of need.
6 Ways to Triumph through Change
Without a doubt, it’s easy to try to skip over your grief, but this might be the most important step of all. Change brings loss. Maybe it’s a loss of a dream, expectation, or a loved one. Grief is messy and pops up when we least expect it. Lean into grief, it will help you accept your loss and give it the value it deserves.
Reframe Your Story
Obviously, there are some changes that happen that are simply out of your control. However, you do have many choices on how to respond to transitions that are unwanted. What is the narrative you are writing? Are you making assumptions without facts? Reframing your story can give you a healthy perspective as you move forward.
Give Yourself Grace
Undeniably, change can be exhausting. You might struggle with motivation, concentration, or depression. Please extend grace to yourself. If you aren’t performing at your usually capacity, it’s okay. Think of what you would say to a dear friend about your situation, and say it to yourself.
It’s easy to spiral into the “what ifs” and “should haves.” But ask yourself if this is helpful. Has it ever brought you peace? When you refuse to release the past, it is hard to move toward the future. It’s important to understand that transition, whether you actively chose it or not, can be exactly what you need.
The discomfort of change can either paralyze you or propel you into something new. Transition is an opportunity to challenge old ways of doing things, and seek God for what is next.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)
Thanks to my counselor, I have realized that I often choose work over life giving people and activities. Can you relate? During times of transition, it’s especially important to find out who lifts your burdens and makes you laugh. What activities bring you joy and fill you up?
I wrote this post to myself as much as I did for you. This is my current reality; it’s not passed tense for me. I don’t have all the answers, but I am confident that God does. I hope that you are too!
Finally, thank you for letting me pop into your inbox again after an extended break! I would love to hear from you about the changes you are going through. How are you processing transitions? What helps you to move forward?