Life is full of 180 degree turns. Just when we think we have things figured out, life throws us for a loop with both “good” things and “bad.”
Falling in love turns our world around. Having children, moving to a new place, getting married, getting divorced, getting a new job, retirement, deaths, accidents, births, accomplishments, graduations—all have the potential to destabilize our worlds. Every one of these transitions puts us into a state of flux so none of us are a stranger to the phenomenon.
Unfortunately, no matter how common transitional funks and confusion may be, what is also common are mistakes we make when trying to deal with them.
Here are three of the errors we tend to make when facing a change—and what we might do instead:
1. We suffer alone. We think, “I'm the only one…” Time and time again I have seen people from teenagers on up think that they are the only one who felt a certain way or they were the only one who suffered from a change or tragedy. Sometimes guilt keeps us silent, feeling like we shouldn’t feel the way we do.
When, instead, we open up about what we are experiencing and tell the truth, we often discover that others have had similar experiences and feelings and we truly aren’t alone. In fact, others who have been through similar events are often able to help us to heal and move forward by sharing their hard-earned wisdom.
2. We get stuck on the drama of the bad news story or perceive the wrong lesson. We look at our past experiences and choices as mistakes rather than realizing that, with time and perspective, even the worst circumstances have something to offer. In truth, the way we see things can improve or neutralize with time.
For instance, someone told me about how he was seriously ill and hospitalized, which at the time seemed awful. But when he and his nurse fell in love and got married, he was grateful for the illness.
When someone hurts us, we tend to think the lesson is “not to trust,” when the more valuable lesson might be to “be more discerning and aware.” Or, perhaps the lesson is “I need to self-strengthen so that I trust in myself and Spirit more.” In my observation, anytime the lesson we glean shuts our hearts, makes us more unhappy, distrusting or less loving, we have missed the real lesson and need to look again.
While we may move to gratitude eventually, my invitation to you is to see if you can move to gratitude immediately—even before you know what the blessing is. In my experience, when we let go of the resistance to what is, the blessing becomes obvious faster.
The exercise in self-mastery here is about disempowering the events that happen and the things other people do, and empowering the way we respond to all that happens.
3. We only capture our suffering in our journals or story telling, reinforcing the pain. Unless we are mindful, we simply retell the “what happened and who done it” story. Then, when we reread or look at our journals, they are full of the sad and painful experiences and devoid of the joyful, juicy blessings that surround us.
As Einstein pointed out, “We can’t solve problems from the same kind of thinking that created them”, so it behooves us to access a different way of thinking. What if, in our journals or even silent inquiry, we explored the thought of “How was this a blessing to me?” or “What qualities and strengths did I draw from to resolve this?” Or “What am I grateful for?” Imagine how improved our self-strengthening for handling the next transition would be!
When we learn to access the wisdom and creativity of our soul, we gain a “new kind of thinking” and all the resources we need for resolving problems. This empowers us to not only handle the transitions that we face, but embrace them and even look forward to them as our greatest source of growth.