What is change? What is transition? What is grief? These all have connections.
Have you ever had a promotion or learned you were going to a better school and still felt unsettled? Perhaps you just got married or purchased a new home and you would think that you would be elated, right? Perhaps you are but that little gnawing tugs once in a while. For some it is total confusion and disparity. You would think that change for the better would automatically make you happy, right? So why the mixed feelings you wonder.
Imagine that your former life (single life, old school, old employment and home) are on one side of a building. Each in their separate room and in order to get to the newness of whatever you have earned or acquired, you need to get out of the room. You open the door and find yourself in a long corridor. The new life is in another room across this hallway and the door is slightly ajar. You excitedly push the door open and start to enter, filled with a joy yet trepidation. The longer you stay in the New room, the anxiety mounts or you start feeling depressed. What the heck is going on! You shout at yourself and are boggled about what could be happening to you. You run back into the hallway and aren’t too sure what to do. It is safe in the hallway but inside you feel chaos in your gut.
In any type of change or transition in life there is also a grieving process to let go of the old before taking on the new. Even if the old was not that great, it was familiar and it was a part of who you were and who you knew for some time. For some people, that mourning phase can take a short time and for others a bit longer. What IS important is to acknowledge you are turning a chapter in your life.
Years ago, I read Transitions by Bridges and he called that phase the “neutral zone” as it has a bit of positive and negative feel to it. For some it is apathy…totally neutral but unfeeling…not happy or sad, just apathy.
A woman gets married and moves into her new home with her husband. The first few months it is like an extended honeymoon but then she starts having bouts of mood swings. A mother gives birth to a healthy little boy and several months later she is feeling sad. It`s not postpartum she was told by her doctor but still she can`t shake the longing for her old life and now starts to feel guilty. A man gets a huge promotion with big pay increase. After working at the new position for a few months, he is feeling sluggish and not comfortable in this new change in his life.
Most people have adjustment periods they need to transition into a new role but most are never told why. We are back in that corridor again. The new life door is open and yet you cannot totally embrace it until you close the door to the former life. And you can`t really close that door until you actually give it one last glance. Does this make sense?
It is a bit like when you move out of a house, before you give the key to the new owners/tenants, you walk around each room, pause at some areas, a window…reminded of something you did, heard…it was here you celebrated the news (new job, wedding, etc.). Embrace those memories, walk through them one more time…and slowly let them go. Now you can close that door and confidentially cross through that corridor and open the door to your new life.
I am simplifying this a bit but if you are interested in reading about this further, I recommend you to read Bridges’ book. I have used his techniques many times over the years with adults and youths.
Before turning that last page of your life chapter make sure you have read it entirely.
© Cheryl-Lynn ’14/11/11