Sara had recently broken up with her longterm boyfriend and though it ended amicably she was now feeling adrift. But then much to her surprise she was offered a promotion on her job – heading up a new office in another state. She’s accepted the position and is looking forward to the challenge and change, but, quite honestly, it doesn’t take much for her to feel overwhelmed and even a bit depressed.
Ready or not, we all go through numerous transitions in our lives – leaving high school to go to college or work, changing jobs, getting married, getting divorced, having children. These become those weeks, months or longer of awkward emotional spaces where we have cut ties with what we know and have not quite settled into what is new. Some are by choice or by opportunity; others come from natural ends – the graduating from college – and still others are unwillingly imposed on us – sudden layoff from a job, unwanted and uninitiated breakups in relationships. Whatever the circumstances, navigating this gray zone of transitions can be difficult, presenting us with new problems and demanding us to respond in new ways.
Here are some tips for surviving and thriving through these difficult and uncertain times:
Expect to feel depressed and anxious. Even though Sara’s relationship with her boyfriend ended relatively well, a loss is still a loss, a major change in her life. Even though her job is a promotion, she is still going to leave behind both colleagues that she has grown close to and a job that has become comfortable and familiar. Whenever we move forward we leave something behind, and this creates a psychological state of grief, however small. And if the change is unexpected and unwanted– the sudden job layoff or relationship breakup – the shock and depression are greater. And with such turmoil comes anxiety. We are out of our comfort zone; our imaginations run wild; we worry about an unknown future.
Realize that this is a new / old chapter in your life. While you need to acknowledge your loss, you don’t want to get stuck in the past. Acknowledging that a door is closed is psychologically healthy; spending your time staring at it is not.
While it sounds like a cliché, the next step after an end is a new beginning, a new chapter, and keeping this in mind can give you a sense of a fresh start. And while the particular circumstances are new, the process itself is familiar. You have, after all, made transitions before – changing schools, neighborhoods, relationships, jobs. You know the terrain, you’ve acquired experience and skills along the way. You can do this again, and this time even better.
If you are struggling with a life transition, even ones that “should” be positive, we can
help. Call us today to schedule an appointment.