Major Life Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes
Updated: Aug 21
Have you ever been in the midst of a change and found it difficult to rediscover who you are or where to go now in this new normal? Well, you may be experiencing a life transition. Change can bring about excitement, hope, fear, and joy. However, there is a common emotional experience that is often forgotten even when we are experiencing an exciting life transition and that is the emotion of grief.
Life transitions are difficult because they force us to leave what we know and move forward with a feeling of vulnerability.
Most life transitions begin with a string of losses:
· The loss of identity (who we are)
· The loss of a person (who they were)
· The loss of a place (where we were)
· The loss of your sense of where you fit in the world (where I belong)
Some common life transitions are:
Graduating from high school and going to college
Graduating from college and entering the working world
Moving to a new city
Getting a new job
Ending a long term relationship
Becoming a parent
Whether positive or negative, life transitions force us to adjust to what I call a “new season or chapter”. We get to sit down and re-learn our roles, and ways of relating in this season. This is easier said than done. Here are some signs you may not be coping well with a life transition.
Feeling anxious, irritable, moody most of the time
Social isolation and not wanting to engage with others
Difficulty sleeping or restless sleep
Feeling loss or unsure of oneself
Feeling fatigued or tired most of the day
Difficulty coping with tasks.
Anyone can find themselves in this place and if unmanaged or explored can lead to deeper struggles with depression or anxiety. Here are some helpful tips in dealing with life transitions.
Learn to express your feelings in a safe space. It can be normal to suppress feelings when we are having a hard time. This often leads to greater levels of stress. Find a safe person (family, friend, trained professional, etc.) to talk to about your feelings and thoughts around the transitions. The keyword is safe, an invalidating space can also increase feelings of loneliness.
Identify Values and Goals. Relearning what matters to us can give a new sense of purpose. Get specific and measurable with your goals so you know what you are working towards. When you become firm in who you are to begin to take responsibility for working hard to getting to where you want to be.
Acknowledge what you have lost or are what you are leaving. Healing through grieving means experiencing sadness and what you will miss. Exploring what thoughts come up and coping through it to get to a place of acceptance.
Remember it is a process so take it a step at a time. Healing is not linear in any case including life transitions. Some days will be easy, some days a challenge, but keep moving forward.
If you or a loved one are struggling with life transitions, there is help. In my therapy sessions I specialize in walking through the grieving, coping, and rediscovering process with clients. Contact me today. Let’s journey towards healing and balance together.