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Transition, even the completely voluntary, can be a source of intense suffering because it involves adapting to new situations and changing your self-conception.
If we understand transitions, we can control our tendency to fight against them. We can turn major life changes into a source of meaning and transcendence.
Transition is also called liminality by psychologists - a state where you are neither in the state you left nor entirely in your new state. This in-between state creates an identity crisis, even in good transitions.
But they are really a predictable and integral part of life and happen regularly. Author Bruce Feiler interviewed hundreds of people and found that a major life change happens, on average, every 12 to 18 months. Even huge collective transitions such as the pandemic occur with regularity.
In hindsight, even the unwanted transitions are usually seen to have been a success.
Research shows that we tend to see past events as net positives over time. Even the most challenging transitions have some positive fruit. It may just take some time to see it.
When we don't resist challenging transitions, we learn how to cope with subsequent life changes. We gain a sense of meaning that makes the rest of life seem more stable.
Those who benefit and learn the most from them are those who accept them and lean into them.
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They are the transitions and moments of disruption that offer unique opportunities for insight and wisdom.
The constant handling of big and small obstacles and setbacks, ironically, is what provides meaning to our lives. It is almost as if a Gateway or threshold has to be crossed, signifying the commitment of the journey from the ‘Hero’ who is able to successfully complete the ‘test of life’.
Life transitions are the interesting chapters of our internal autobiographies, that provide us with the opportunity, tools and the reason to transform ourselves for the better.
We need to take small steps, or ‘microsteps’ to accept these transition moments, visualize and plan out the change, shed our old ways, unveil our transformation and the resulting new self, and to storify the entire transition.
In the face of a crisis, we feel chaotic and out of control. The transition comes in three phases:
Shedding of something we have long clung to, like a certain mindset, delusion, habit or dream, is part of the messy middle.
It clears the unwanted parts of your life, creating space for something new to blossom.