Is a transition an ending? Or a beginning?
Does it matter?
By Chris Klonoski
Recently, Root + River hosted a client appreciation celebration – a virtual event that felt so rich and warm that it was immediately determined that it had to occur again. Triumphs – big and small – were shared and cheered. Continued progress was encouraged. Good vibes were absorbed and reflected.
Celebrating feels good. It feels right. We need to do it a lot more.
Most of what was celebrated was born from transition, significant change. Many of these changes were choices, even desired. Shares included new partnerships, new ventures, new clients. Some were more personal – resolved health issues, moving homes, children’s accomplishments. And some transitions were universal. As Suzanne noted during the celebration, COVID was “warp-speed transformation.”
Transitions can be a choice, but even welcome change is disruptive. It can be uncomfortable and confronting. And often, we live there much longer than necessary. Transitions are so much more than the change itself. What’s actually significant is what happens after the shift.
During times of stability we know things. We are confident of our experience and knowledge. But inside the anxiety of a transition, it is easy to lose our sight and our knowing. We long for the comfort of the before, the familiar. We seek – yet don’t believe – the reassurance that all will be OK. We willingly cause our own pain by resisting.
- Recognize the transition. It’s real. It’s happening or happened. Name it if you want to – but don’t attach yourself to the name. Just allow yourself to see it, be aware that it is happening. Think about it obsessively. Think about it casually. Just be mindful that your life has changed.
- As always, pause. Honor the anxiety of change. Even good change can be intimidating. Pause is the opposite of escalation. Pause is the opposite of ignoring. Pause is the opposite of filling a void just to have something. Pause is simply quiet. A lack of expectation. A lack of responsibility. Pause is freedom. Take a pause. For ten seconds. Or ten minutes. Or ten days. It’s OK to not think, not to deal. Not to overcome. It’s OK to just be. It’s the spaces in between where we fully shift, actually alter, truly grow. This only happens inside the pause.
- Radical Acceptance. Once the transition has occurred, even if it’s not entirely complete, life is different. Acknowledging that, radical acceptance, lessens the pain. The simple ripping of the Band-Aid: Gather the courage to gently fold up one little corner, take a deep breath, riiiiip. The pain is sharp. Then it’s over. You laugh, embarrassed. What was the big deal? You ask yourself. Sometimes it helps to find a safe person and just tell them about it. Start out with this has happened. True naming – saying it out loud – can make it real.
- Find the scripts. All of them. Examine them and then lose them. Create new ones. Better ones. Here are some of the identifiers: “always”, “should”, “never” “but that’s not how we do it”, “can’t” “of course, this…” and so many more. Throw away the old stories you told yourself that explained everything. Throw away all the reactive thoughts about why people treat you a certain way.
Replace them with curiosity. Replace them with an open heart. Replace them with love. After all, everything changed so why not the old garbage? As Byron Katie writes in Loving What Is, also know as The Work, “You’re either attaching to thoughts or inquiring. There’s no other choice.” In her work she posits four questions to ask yourself: 1. Is it true? 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? 3. How do you react when you believe that thought? 4. Who would you be without the thought?
For our purposes, it’s question #4 that I find the most exciting.
Who are you, now that things have changed? Who have you always wanted to be? You can write yourself new scripts – intentionally, carefully, creatively. And if they don’t cut it? Who cares? If change is the only constant, then everything is fluid, amorphous, seasonal. Make it work for you. Now, go live. You are going to be in this new life anyway – so you may as well do it with more space, more oxygen and more possibility. Give it a shot…and we will cheer you on.