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Resilience Through Transition

May 25, 2018 in Change
by Dr. Jill Langer

Fall is a time of transition. The weather cools, the leaves turn – well, at least they do in most of the country! As in nature, so in life as fall brings the opportunity for transition in our personal lives. We may find ourselves or our children starting or returning to school or college. We may have to navigate disruption to our health, career, or our most important relationships.Whether we deem the transition positive (progressing in school, entering a new romantic relationship, getting a promotion, moving, retirement) or negative(leaving home and relationships, being diagnosed with a health condition,losing one’s job, divorce or separation), most of us experience transition as difficult. This is, in part, because transitions bring change, and change brings loss.

Transitions are as challenging as they are inevitable and require adjustment and adaptation to the new and unfamiliar. Here are some helpful ways to increase your resilience and coping as you navigate the transitions you face in your life:

Acknowledge and accept your feelings. Know that when we are in transition, it is normal to feel a wide range of emotions including feeling uneasy, lost, afraid, and anxious. It is also normal to feel excited and energized or, conversely, overwhelmed and drained. Rather than judging or dismissing your emotions (a common response), do your best to make space for these feelings by recognizing them as a natural part of the experience of transition.

Acknowledge the losses and embrace the possibilities. Transition brings both loss and gain. Imagine and focus on the possible positive outcomes.

Do what you can to influence and bring about the positive outcomes you want. Be active rather than passive in all that you can control. And – here’s the harder part – let go of the need to try to control the rest.

Seek support from others,especially those who have successfully navigated a similar transition. They are living proof things can work out for you, too.

Keep as many aspects of your life and routine that are available and helpful to you. Try to maintain your eating, sleeping, and workout schedule to the extent that you can. If you regularly attend church, continue to do so. You may want to increase your worship time for additional support.

Remember your values, goals, and hopes for the future and remind yourself of ways this transition can enhance your life’s overall purpose. For example, the challenges of school lead to a more fulfilling career. The end of a relationship opens the path for a relationship that will better meet your needs.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from a qualified professional. Working with a psychologist who specializes in helping navigate life’s many transitions (including myself) can help make your journey through transition more successful, faster, and less painful.

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