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Roadmap for Navigating Transitions

When I was a child, I was inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “I have a dream.”  The famous speech delivered on my birthday in 1963 left a roadmap for navigating transitions within my heart.  This speech spoke to me about the power of having a dream and a purpose.  It taught me that there are two shores, the one where we stand (endings) and the one where we dream of going (visioning the future).  And, the work to reach those dreams is in navigating the distance between those two points (the liminal space).   The sustenance to see the dream through relies on the content of our character.

Each change in our lives, whether invited or imposed, requires our inner presence and attention for a successful transition.

The change is the external event, but the real work of navigating to the future lies in the experience of transition – of moving between the two shores.  We are doing the inner work of shaping our character during the liminal space of transitions, gaining a new perspective, evolving our belief systems, reimagining, and healing.

Because our culture is often impatient with transition, we are often encouraged to push through or push down uncomfortable feelings like sadness and confusion.  We are told to “move on.”

We can find purpose in the transitions if we are patient enough to listen to the messages of our feelings.    

Roadmap – Know Your Stage of Transition to Move Through

In Stage 1, we begin with the Endings.  An ending or a loss often marks endings.  Loss of a job, loss of health, loss of a loved one.  It can also be marked by a stage of life where we leave from one stage (being single) to a new stage (getting married).  In this example, the feelings may be excitement and joy – yet there is still a passage to be acknowledged.  Women’s biology is another layer of endings and beginnings as we move into and through our childbearing years and menopause.

The event = the change.  The transition = the emotional and psychological experience that the ending forges.

The feelings associated with endings can include grief, sadness, surprise, anticipation, and fear.

Tips for navigating Stage 1 Endings:

  • Acknowledge the ending. In your journal or through art journaling, describe what is ending for you.  For example, if it’s a job, it may be income, status, people you saw every day, or personal satisfaction.  Describe this ending in as many ways as you can until you feel empty of all this ending signifies.
  • Mine the lessons. Reflect on what has ended.  What did you learn as a result of the experience?  What are you glad to be done with?
  • Create a symbolic release.

In Stage 2, we are navigating the Liminal Space.  The waiting period between what was and what is next. The feelings associated with the liminal space can include confusion, disorientation, and uncertainty.  When we judge these feelings as wrong, we can also experience depression and anxiety.  The liminal stage is a time to rest and recover and to be open.  We engage the liminal space through active rest.  

Tips for navigating Stage 2 Liminal Space:

  • Reframe your thinking. Remind yourself that nothing is wrong because of what you’re feeling.
  • Practice self-care.
  • Develop character strengths.
  • Tune into your intuition through meditation, yoga, writing, or art journaling.

In Stage 3, we are visioning the future.  We have a noticeable shift in energy.  We have cleared the emotions resulting from the ending, and we have navigated the liminal space in productive and character-building ways.  Our energy is building towards a new direction, but don’t jump too quickly – there is work to be done as we cross the threshold of the liminal space and prepare for a new beginning.

Where are you in the transitions of your life?  Are you in an ending with a relationship? A new beginning with a job?  Or the liminal space of waiting?  The complexity of our lives can also mean that we are in multiple transitions at once.

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