It’s been exactly 3 months since leaving the house I’ve lived in for 19 years, packing up a husband and 2 cats and an overstuffed car, driving from Philadelphia – and arriving in our new city, Los Angeles. Well, Burbank, to be exact. I highly recommend moving cross-country with 2 cats for someone who is searching for something akin to an electric shock from their present day-to-day routine.
It seemed to be the mother of all transitions in my multi-faceted life.
Transition is a natural, 24-hour-a-day state of being, if you think about it. Every minute a change occurs, whether it’s going from your kitchen to your living room, or crossing the street from one side to the other. These are natural, everyday events, which don’t require extensive emotional effort. But what about the “big ones,” such as divorce, death, career change, and yes, moving (across the country)?
When transitions don’t go as planned
When I was planning the move I envisioned life in L.A. to be warm weather (it was the end of Winter when we moved) and a fresh start with new opportunities. I was so excited to begin our adventure, and I was not prepared for the setbacks that occurred when we arrived here. We were greeted with a backed-up kitchen sink, a broken washer and dryer, and a shower head that provided a slight drizzle. It was the beginning of a wake-up call to me that involved an awareness of my comforts, and how I was accustomed to my “ways,” as my husband and I refer to our hard-wired habits.
Resilience clearly took a back seat. Our cats, too, were having an equally difficult time adjusting, which added to the tension. It seemed like every day there was a new problem which required spending more money. I tried to stay positive and make the most of it, but inside I felt out of control and confused. I felt as if I had been taken over by another personality. I did not recognize this person. I wanted to love being here right away, and I just didn’t.
Eventually, we sorted out all the household problems and began to explore the outside world of L.A. I started enjoying and living out my expectations, and I can actually say I have survived this “big” transition. I am able to look back now and recognize how and what I was feeling by understanding what was happening inside me.
7 Steps toward transition-warrior status
So how do you gracefully navigate the emotional challenges and sometimes contradictory feelings of transitions?
- Accept and face this transition. Embracing the situation can help you deal with it and strengthen your resiliency. Stop and take the time to imagine the best possible outcome that could result from this change. If you start thinking optimistically, chances are you will create positive results. Understand that there will inevitably be challenges, and that those are a normal and temporary part of change. Write a list of all the new and positive opportunities you could gain by this transition.
- I’m overwhelmed! The biggest emotion coming from a transition is the out-of-control feeling of overwhelm. Take baby steps. Write down as many thoughts and feelings about your overwhelm. Focus on just one at a time. Think about what are some steps you can take to help reduce this feeling. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, just step back and remember to take this one at a time.
- Be honest with yourself. Look deep inside at your feelings and accept all of them. Even the ones that are difficult to face. I was trying hard to be outwardly positive when all I wanted to do inside was crumble. Not only was I being inauthentic, but it took so much energy to try to appease myself. It wasn’t real. Be okay with your sadness or anger. Know that it’s natural to feel these feelings. And I repeat: they are temporary feelings.
- Be kind to yourself. This is a new stage where you might find yourself suddenly vulnerable. It’s okay to be insecure, scared, unsure. Understand that the outcome of this transition will bring you new strengths and a new awareness. So be sure to compliment yourself often because you’ve made it through this phase, and onto the next! You will have the strength and knowledge to face new transitions because you will have already experienced a challenging one.
- Think about your past transitions. If you’ve had challenges in transitions before, reflect on them. What were some steps you took to overcome them? Is it possible that repeating those actions would benefit you in this situation?
- Rely on your support network. Your friends and family want nothing more than for you to succeed. They will be your cheerleader, shoulder for crying onto, and advice-givers, whether you want it or not. It’s all for love.
- Get moving, inside and out. The best way to get out of your head and get rid of stress is to move: rigorous exercise or even just a walk around the block helps. Briefly after we moved, while facing emotional turbulence, a friend introduced me to meditating. There is a growing part of me that can say it was a life-changing addition to my life. It has provided much-needed direction and calm. Every day.
Now you’re ready to be a warrier next time you face a major transition.