Episode 39: Coping with Transitions

Episode 39: Coping with Transitions

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Change is hard. Even the most positive transition in our lives can cause us to grieve what we are leaving behind. While we greet some good-byes with exciting new hellos, those good-byes are still something to look at and honor as we move from one thing we knew to another.

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COPING WITH TRANSITION

BIG CHANGE, LITTLE CHANGE

We all have major and minor transitions throughout our life. Some are unexpected, like an illness and injury, a car accident, or even the pandemic, and we have to figure out how to transition and cope rather quickly.

Then we have planned transitions: Moving to a new house, taking a new job, embarking on a new lifestyle for our health, or starting a new spiritual practice. These planned transitions have an aura of excitement and joy but can also bring in feelings of sadness and loss.

Big and small changes shake things up in our lives. When we say hello to something new, we say goodbye to something else. While we ordinarily focus on only the positives during a transition, it’s equally important to acknowledge the other feelings we experience when something in our lives is changing.

A MOURNING PERIOD

Anytime we experience transition, there can be a mourning period where we experience grief. I call this transitional sadness, which can happen even when we are excited about the change. Moving from Charleston to California with my husband was one of the most exciting times in my life. We were both incredibly excited and ready for the change.

Even though we were both super excited, I still experienced sadness when we left. I was leaving behind my community, friends, the familiar places I knew and loved, and the first house we had together. Being sad is a reflection of how happy you had before you made a shift to something new. It’s honoring the good times and acknowledging you were grateful for them.

PREPARE FOR CHANGE

One thing you can do when a transition is on the horizon is to prepare as much as possible. Sometimes the change is unexpected, and you don’t have time to plan for it, but when you can, preparation is key to a smooth transition into the next phase of your life.

When preparing, you can assess the things that may be harder to say goodbye to and plan for those feelings of sadness or grief. This preparation gives you an honest assessment of some of the things you will miss as you move on but also gives you a chance to reflect on what about your old life that brought you joy.

You can plan in advance as you examine what the new will look like in your life.

For example:

  • What route will I take to my new job?
  • What stores are within driving distance of my new home?
  • What activities that I love to do are available to me in this new location?
  • What new practice will I have time for now that my schedule is open?

Looking into all the new opportunities surrounding the transition can help make it easier.

The grief process will also be easier when you can observe the transition in a healthy way and process your emotions surrounding it.

OBSERVE YOUR EMOTIONS

Preparation for transition includes observing your emotions. When you examine your feelings, you can start to explore your expectations of this change being 100% positive and curb any disappointment you might feel when sadness creeps in. It might shock you that you are grieving when you feel like you “should” only be celebrating.

We often deny ourselves the support we need from ourselves by succumbing to negative self-talk. When you're in the transition, notice if your self-talk isn't positive or is not supporting the transition; ask yourself why.

  • Are you feeling disappointed?
  • Are you feeling sad?
  • Are you mourning?
  • Are you grieving?
  • Are you angry?
  • Are you excited?
  • Are you delighted?
  • Why is my self-talk not supporting this transition?
  • What else am I to be looking at here?

Whatever it is, we want to look at ourselves talk. Because sometimes, we might not even realize that we're grieving the transition. If you ask yourself these really honest questions, you'll be able to assess better what's going on on the inside.

If you notice that you are having some negative self-talk, ask yourself, how can I shift into a positive vibration with this transition?

AVOID THE SPIRAL

Sometimes we get too far in our head during a transition and spiral into the negative what-ifs and fears surrounding the change. If you allow yourself to spiral into negativity, it's not healthy. It’s too easy to spiral out of control with those thoughts, and we want to find a way to bring peace rather than emotional chaos.

If you find yourself spiraling, talking to someone is essential. If you're feeling sad, grieving, or experiencing a more challenging time with the transition, reaching out to your community is super important. I have found that if I can talk it out with someone and examine how I am feeling at a particular moment, it helps me acknowledge that I am sad and grieving, even when those emotions surprise me. Being in community helps with the grieving and coping process.

I have found that most people are going to experience some sort of grief when they are transitioning.

ROUTINES AND GOALS

Two things that have helped me during times of transition are keeping some routines intact and setting small obtainable goals to integrate my old life into my new experience. As we are transitioning my daughter from day-care to school, I have kept our morning and night routines that we are used to, which helps us cope with the change in the middle of our day. We have the familiarity of our routine to help ease us into the change.

The other thing you'll also want to consider when you are in transition and coping with it is setting small goals. Transitions are not easy. Setting small goals early on will help you manage stress if you are going through a significant transition. For example, when my husband and I decided to move across the country, we started working on selling our stuff and getting rid of our stuff several months in advance. Decluttering our home and deciding what we were taking with us and what we wanted to part with helped us with that transition.

Sometimes, we might have an unexpected transition that we can't plan months for, but we can still set small goals along the way. So if you know a change is looming, you can ask yourself:

  • What is one small goal I can accomplish within the next hour?
  • What is one small goal I can accomplish today?
  • What is one small goal I can accomplish this week?

Looking at your goals and setting small obtainable mile markers throughout the day and the week is beneficial in creating a smoother transition.

SELF-COMPASSION

Another thing you want to consider when you are going through transition and coping with change is self-compassion. We want to give ourselves self-compassion daily, but during a time of transition, it’s extra important. There are moments when we go through things where self-compassion is critical.

It is okay if you are in mourning. It is okay to admit that you're in mourning. It's okay if you're sad, angry, frustrated, or upset. There are times in life when things will happen where we don't have control over the transition. But we can acknowledge how we're feeling, give ourselves some compassion, and ask for support from our community.

It is okay if you grieve. You will make it through it. Transitions are always going to be part of our lives, and we want to respond in a healthy way. Acknowledging sadness is going to be a part of that.

Transitions are also an excellent opportunity for us to grow and change. Growth happens outside of our comfort zone. Transitions can be challenging, even if the changes are exciting and planned for or scary and happened before we could prepare for them. So be kind and compassionate with yourself, and celebrate that something beautiful will always come from the transition.

If you enjoyed this episode with Amy Robeson, we would love to invite you to check out other inspirational episodes by clicking here. Enjoy!

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Full transcription of the episode:

Hello and welcome to today's episode. I'm so excited you are here. I was talking to one of my team members and we were talking about how sometimes we can go through major events in our lives that are big events that feel so good and we're so excited for the event, but that transition can be scary and then there can be some sadness around that transition. And so I wanted to talk today about coping with transition, even if it's a positive transition. We all have major, minor transitions all throughout our life and some of them are unexpected, like an illness and injury, car accident, or even the pandemic. That was an unexpected transition and we had to figure out how to transition and cope with it really, really quickly.

And then we have planned transitions. This could be maybe moving a job because you got a different opportunity or maybe moving across the country, or maybe you're thinking about starting a new healthy routine or starting a meditation. We can have a planned transition as well and we can still experience sadness during this transition. And then we have also transitions that we're preparing for and we see and we're excited about, or we have unexpected transitions that we prepare for but we're not excited about as well.

So anytime we have a transition, there can be a mourning period where we experience grief. I call this transitional sadness and it does not matter if it is something you are excited about. For example, we've moved across the country a couple of times and my husband and I were both very, very excited about the moves that we were embarking upon. That does not mean I didn't experience sadness when we left. So we moved from Charleston to California and saying goodbye to my friends, saying goodbye to the community that we created, and saying goodbye to our first house that we bought together. It was all very sad, but also very exciting.

And so it's okay if you are experiencing sadness. I know that even like motherhood, we go through different experiences in motherhood as our child gets bigger as well. And so if you experience transitional sadness, maybe you're a breastfeeding mom and you are breastfeeding and you put all this hard work into breastfeeding and then your child is transitioning off of breastfeeding, that could be very sad when you're first going through it. So anytime you're experiencing transition, there are several things that you can do.

One is you can prepare when you can. Sometimes it's unexpected and we can't prepare, but if it is an expected transition, you can prepare. And by preparing, you can talk to yourself about things that you might be grieving about within this transition. When you're preparing, you can look at things that you might find sadness or grief around that you're leaving behind or you're transitioning out of. I find that this is really helpful because it gives you an honest assessment of some of the things that you might miss after you transition.

And then if you are able to look at that, you're able to observe it in a very healthy way, process your emotions in a really healthy way so that the grief process is easier for you as well. The other reason why we want to prepare if we can so that you can also look at some of the transitional pieces to make them easier on yourself. So let's say you're starting a new job and you're saying goodbye to your old job. How you can prepare is, "What's my new route I'm going to take for work?" Or, "What are some of the new things that I want to prepare for this new career that I'm transitioning into?"

Another reason why you'd want to prepare also is so that you can set your expectations up in a different way. By preparing, you might notice there are things that you didn't consider, and by taking a moment to consider them, you have a different set of expectations. And then this will help also curb any sadness or disappointment if it should arise. Now, it might arise, it might not arise. And that's the other thing that we want to look out for with transition, is our self-talk.

Are you feeling disappointed? Are you feeling sad? Are you mourning? Are you grieving? Are you angry? Are you excited? Are you delighted? Whatever it is, we want to look at ourselves talk. And if you notice when you're in the transition, if you notice your talk isn't positive or is not supporting the transition, ask yourself why? Why is my self-talk not supporting this transition? What else am I to be looking at here? Because sometimes we might not even realize that we're grieving the transition. And so if you ask yourself this really honest question, you'll be able to get a better assessment of what's going on on the inside.

Also, if you notice that you are having some negative self-talk, ask yourself, how can I shift into a positive vibration with this transition? What can I shift my mindset to in order to experience something different with this transition? Because if you allow yourself to spiral into negativity and it's a transition that you didn't ask for, but it is happening anyways, it's not healthy to spiral out of control with it. We want to find a way to bring peace inside. We want to find a way to bring peace within. And so if you find yourself spiraling, talking to someone is going to be really important.

Also, just talking to someone in general, if you're feeling that you're sad or you're grieving or you're experiencing a more challenging time with the transition. Having community is really, really important. I find that if I can talk to someone about how I'm feeling in that particular moment or later on, once I realize like, "Hey, I am really sad about this," it helps with the grieving and coping process. I find that we are all going to experience some sort of grief when we are transitioning.

I know for me, when I transitioned careers, even though it was my choice, even though I knew it was happening, I still to this day, I still miss the community of my previous career. I have a great community now, but I worked in a location, I went somewhere every day. We were family, and I still miss these guys. That doesn't mean the transition that I chose to make is not the right decision for me. It was absolutely the right decision for me. But I can still have those feelings and still do something really well in the transition and feel really still good about it. And so having a community is really important. Talking to someone is really important.

To help with transition, another thing that you want to consider is to set up routines. Now, this is really important because it eases the transition, it helps bring down the stress, and it's something that will allow you to stay consistent. Now, for us, right now, my daughter is transitioning out of daycare and is going into school. And so our new routines are going to be very different than our old routines. What I plan to do with our new routines is coupled up with some of the old routines that we had in the morning. And then after school, I'll couple some of the old routines that we had with some new routines as well, and then her evening routine will stay the same. But this helps with transitions because I'm able to think about how I can keep us feeling good while we're doing these new transitions and allows us to look forward to something new that we're going to do as well. So routines are key.

The other thing that you'll also want to consider when you are in transition and coping with transition is to set small goals. Transitions are not easy sometimes, and if you are doing a major transition, setting small goals early on will help you manage stress. So for example, my husband and I, when we decided we were going to move across the country, we started working on selling our stuff and getting rid of our stuff months and months and months in advance. This helped us with that transition.

Now sometimes we might have an unexpected transition where we can't plan months and months in advance for, but you can still set small goals along the way. So if you know, hey, I'm going to be going through this transition, you can go, what is one small goal I can obtain within the next hour? What is one small goal that I can obtain today? What is one small goal I can obtain this week? It just depends on what type of transition it is. But looking at your goals and setting small obtainable goals throughout the day and throughout the week is really important with the transition.

The other thing you want to consider when you are going through transition and coping with transition is self-compassion. Now, self-compassion is something that we want to give ourselves on a daily basis. But there are some moments in time when we are going through things where self-compassion is absolutely key. And it is okay if you are in mourning. It is okay that you can admit that you're in mourning as well. It's okay if you're sad or you're angry or frustrated or upset. I remember reading some posts on social media during the pandemic and a girl that I went to high school where she posted how sad she was that State Fair wasn't happening, that she couldn't go to the State Fair. It was something that she thoroughly enjoyed doing and she was so sad about it.

Was her sadness as big of a deal as what was going on? Some would say no, but it still means that she was sad, that sadness was there. It's okay that she was sad. You know what, it was really healthy that she admitted it, that she was sad about it. Because there are times in life when things are going to happen where we don't really have control over the transition. But what we do have is the ability to acknowledge how we're feeling and then give ourselves some compassion and lean into community so that we can feel supported and feel seen, so we can allow ourselves to feel better and to start the healing process.

It is okay if you grieve. It's okay if you're sad because you will make it through it, I promise you. Transitions are always going to be happening and it's how we respond to the transition. And we want to respond in a healthy way and acknowledging sadness is going to be a part of that if you are experiencing it. Transitions are also a great opportunity for us to grow, change, growth happens outside of our comfort zone and transitions can be really hard sometimes while we're experiencing all the changes. So be kind, and compassionate with yourself, and celebrate that something beautiful will always come from the transition.

I hope you have an amazing day. Please like and subscribe and share this podcast with someone that you think might enjoy it. I look forward to seeing you on the inside. Bye.

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