Uncertain change. That’s what most of us fear. Whether it’s the end of a relationship, moving to a new location or work environment – when we don’t have control over what’s changing it’s scary.
A flood of questions takes over our minds and we wonder how and if we will be able to survive it or at best adapt to it. This world is facing so many changes and there continues to be so many unknown variants of how the change will continue to evolve and impact our daily lives.
I used to think that I was really good at adapting to change. I’ve lived in over a dozen homes throughout my life, held almost twenty different corporate positions, worshiped at nearly ten different congregations, been married, divorced, and married again. Change is my middle name – especially when I control it. But, I recently learned something about change.
Change is actually the easy part. Transition is where all the work takes places.
“Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t “take.” “– William Bridges
Think about it. You can change your hair when you end a relationship in hopes of boosting your confidence. You can change the color of your room or home to affect a different mood. You can change your job or the position of your desk to feel more in control. You can even change the place where you live or worship because you don’t like the people.
But, those things don’t change YOU. They don’t impact your self worth or how well you interact with other people. You’ve just changed the external thing so that everything can appear to be normal or under your control.
Delaying the Inevitable
After my divorce in 2014, I moved from Michigan to Arizona. In my mind, I was being brave by embarking on such a huge change. Living in a new state for three years was both challenging and exciting. I learned to embrace a variety of cultures. I reconnected with my love of writing and even discovered a new love of hiking. It was fun.
It was delaying the inevitable, though. I was living on an island of having things be just as I wanted them. Surrounded by people who allowed me to play ‘make believe’ as the person I always wanted to be. I don’t regret my rendezvous. It showed me what it feels like to love myself (enforcing healthy habits, practicing the rituals and routines that allow me to be at my best).
But, since meeting my husband and moving back to Michigan it increasingly became apparent that transition – to coexist with the same people who knew me back then – was the hard part. That was the part that I was running from when I left. I didn’t want to do see myself through the lens of people who might judge, condemn or ask impertinent questions. I didn’t think I had the strength to both heal and redefine myself in the spotlight of familiar faces.
It was so much easier and frankly, more liberating to simply silence the noise of others in that way.
When the world (people, habits, activities, environments) as you know it implodes in your face you might do one of two things: retreat to safety or run away from (resist) the thing that’s changing or the impending conflict. In either instance, you’re grasping to feel in control.
I chuckle to myself now when I think about the webinar I unsuccessfully launched back in 2019. It was called “Prepare to Leap“. No one showed up. Not a single soul. (I saved it though and you can watch it here).
It turns out my leap was actually my go to trauma response: Run for your life! It’s what has been safe and familiar for me since childhood.
And, divorce is a traumatic experience. If you’ve faced it, you know.
Even if you initiated it, the ripple effects are pervasive. The way you view things are forever changed. You search to find meaning, reason and purpose for it all. In time you give yourself grace, compassion and permission to start over.
And that’s when you face the real question: “How well do you Transition?”
I view transition as a Metamorphosis – a developmental change that results in the greater, Authentic version of yourself.
Ask yourself: How well do I look inward, improve my self awareness and then make necessary changes for self improvement? How well do I move with the change and evolve as a person?
Truth is: Transition takes Bravery.
Brave means living from the inside out. Brave means, in every uncertain moment, turning inward, feeling for the Knowing, and speaking it out loud. Since the Knowing is specific, personal, and ever changing, so is brave.Glennon Doyle, Untamed
It takes bravery to acknowledge your mistakes. To receive feedback and ask for help. To persevere through uncertain change. To flex your confidence muscle even when you feel afraid. To be willing to learn new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.
Tap Into Resilience
I believe – and it’s been my experience – that we each have the ability to be resilient. Heck, these last eighteen months should be proof that you can dig deep down in yourself to find strength and courage to adapt to change (even in small ways)!
Resilience not only allows you to bounce back from challenging times. Resilience allows for recovery and healing to happen as you’re growing, evolving and transitioning.
Here’s one thing I know to be true: Resilience is already within you. You just have to know how to tap into it – over and over again.
Here are 10 Ways to Brave Through Transition:
- Look for your strengths in other areas of life.
- Ask yourself how this strength has helped you in the past.
- How did you feel and act when you were using your strength?
- How can you use this strength now?
- What obstacles do you anticipate?
- Who do you know that has successfully overcome these obstacles?
- What habits, activities, people or environments replenish you?
- Focus on the behaviors you will be exhibiting when you are thriving.
- Practice mindfulness (noticing feelings, thoughts and behaviors) and self care.
- Give yourself a mantra: “I can…”
Transitioning is an ongoing process. And you don’t have to be perfect. So, even when you make a mistake or feel like you’re failing remember to show yourself some grace and compassion. Acknowledge that you are learning and growing.
And above all,
Celebrate your Wins – big and small.
LaQuita Fergerson – Coach Q Simone LLC
Divorce, Transition and Recovery Coach
Clarity. Confidence. Purpose. Your Metamorphosis Awaits.