This is my first article in nearly three months and to my readers I apologize. Yet I find, as with all my articles that life experience makes for the best opportunities to reflect and share. The delay is the result of my own transitions, in life, in my career, in my mind, body and spirit. I emerged from my latest transition wiser, stronger and more confident, but I assure you that during the journey, I felt anything but. I recall using words such as “crash and burn”, “overwhelming” and “what’s the point” on more than one occasion. I also have to admit that I found myself listening to and reviewing my own previous works, especially my journal, built off my never-ending journey of self discovery. This helped me to find or reset anchors, to be open to myself and the support of others and ultimately to find the power to drive through the transition ultimately under my control. You would not think I’d need to regress to my original journey notes, given that I authored them in the first place, but the truth is that any of us can stumble along our journey, the key is to be able to face our situation eventually allowing us to regain our intended direction, and to see the light at the end of the tunnel. To me at least this offers an element of validation and strengthening, or refinement, to my theory of life transitions and to the relationships that have been formed as a result, perhaps a more critical realization.
I am sure that in these wonderful economic times we all have some form of transition in our lives. Keep in mind however that transition does not have to involve a major life event such as the loss of a job or a loved one, the majority of our transitions are normally much more subtle. They can be an internal manifestation happening within mind, body and spirit, or they can be a combination of factors working synergistically to improve, or worsen our current reality. How we deal with transition, how soon we define the factors, how we determine what actions to take and who we look to for support, will define our physical and mental well-being for the rest of today and the many tomorrows to come.
We all go through transitions, physically and mentally, both good and bad. Some make us stronger, and some can take us to ruin, all have a beginning and an end. Some transitions can last for many years yet others may last only an instant with the change of a perception, awareness or new understanding. There will, fortunately or unfortunately, always be another tunnel. How we prepare ourselves for the next tunnel is paramount to the time it takes to pass through it and the intensity of the light when we emerge.
The tracks that lead to the longest, darkest tunnels are often laid by others; we simply did not realize the signals and continued down their track. The key is in identifying which tracks led to these tunnels and making a switch before the next one. If you are in a tunnel now, you must prepare to make the cutoff right ahead.
The length of any transition is dependent on how you react or the actions you take in response to a series of stimuli or situations in your life, it is uniquely you. You have your reasons to act in a certain way, some are more thought out than others but they are yours and you hopefully learn, embrace the positive and transform your negatives. Perhaps more importantly you gain the wisdom that allows you to know the difference. The intent here is to get you to write your own transition guide based on your unique circumstances, experiences, desires and beliefs.
I could write all day about this but there is a risk you may fall asleep, so now it is time to bring out your journal. Jot down some of the transitions you have gone through. If you are with someone who went through the transition with you, ask them to help you jot. Think of a time when you made a decision that led to a positive transition in your life. You changed jobs, choose a school or course to take, decided to nurture or end a relationship, whatever it is write it down.
Now try to think about all the factors that led up to the transition. What was behind it? Was it a self directed transition or was it imposed by someone else. List other factors that influenced your actions; better pay, better recognition, more compatible mate, brighter future, following your dreams and visions, etc. What were the high (good) points during the transition? How are you stronger, more OK, today than you were before the transition? By the time you get done you will have a relatively clear picture of why you acted as you did and will be reassured that it was the right move.
Now that you have experimented with the easier positive transitions, reflect on the negative transitions and apply the same mindset. Do not be afraid to confront your skeletons, in fact you must to prevent recurring journeys deeper through the darkest transitions you have experienced.
Transitions imposed by others, forced transitions, are more often negative than positive and are usually identified when you first mutter, “What in the Heck?” This provides you with the first realization that you have been led into a tunnel and that the transition you are going through is directly related to someone or something else in your world and your perceived need to comply, fit in, or follow some preconceived or imagined script.
Often times this is a subtle occurrence, we may have been influenced by someone else’s expectations, or our perception of someone else’s expectations, and this could include society in general. A parent, a spouse, an authority figure, a boss, the latest media hype, or economic plight, regardless the source of the transition, you need to deal with it and take some sort of action, execute a plan, not just be pushed through by inertia. The situation must be analyzed balancing emotion with reality, assessing our inventory of assets, abilities and perceived limitations, built off conscious effort and strategy, mixed in with a good dose of spirituality and self reflection. To insure effective transitions, our faulty process loops must be analyzed and rewired, and our mental anchors must be set on solid realities.
You may find that a transition that appears negative on the surface or to someone else, made perfect sense given your understanding at the time, and indeed may be the same decision you would make if you were given the opportunity to make the decision again, under the same circumstances with the same external influences in place at that time. If the transition was negative, you most likely will not have to look too far to find the person who directed you into the tunnel. The biggest take away here is not to beat yourself up, the past is gone, leave it there, now it is time to move forward following your script, not anyone else’s. One last piece to the puzzle is that in some cases transitions that appear negative at first may actually be positives in wolves clothing. Transitions or changes in your life are normally never easy. At times they may seem quite difficult but that does not immediately classify them as negative, even if the drive for the transition was scripted by others.
Once your reflections on the past are complete, it will be much easier to identify and plan for those transitional tunnels around the next bend, or the ones we find ourselves in now, no matter the source. Use your journal to brain storm what track will best lead you to the most positive outcome. You must write it down. The more you know about your motivations, your strengths weaknesses and spirituality, and what impact your actions will have on you and those around you, the easier it will be to embrace any transition and emerge wiser, stronger and more confident. In closing, as the greatest rock band in America say’s, “It’s amazing, with the blink of an eye you finally see the light….and always remember that the light at the end of the tunnel may be you!”
© James D. Tippett