Creating Transitions -- Who’s in Charge?

Since I’m planning a tele-class on what transitions are about, I was looking again at William Bridges’ defining book, Transitions.  What really struck me in re-reading the first chapter that he calls “The Need for Change” is the organicity of transitions.  As he says, they happen naturally in all living creatures:  “Throughout nature, growth involves periodic accelerations and transformations.  Things go slowly for a time and nothing seems to change-- until suddenly the eggshell cracks, the branch blossoms . . . the hibernation begins.  With us . . . the functions of transition times are the same.  They are key times in the natural process of self-renewal. 

            I’m imagining this re-framing of transitions as “key times in the natural process of self-renewal.”  As in the somatic trauma theory of Peter Levine, PhD (author, Waking the Tiger), animals have the inner survival mechanisms to allow sudden and slow-moving changes of all kinds to happen without permanent distress.  Humans, on the other hand, with our more complex brain and upbringing processes, unconsciously learn to resist and question the process of change-- or transitions-- making it harder in our bodies and minds to accept that these can be a “natural” part of our own “self-renewal.” 

            On a different tack, in this week’s New Yorker magazine (9/13/10), an article called “Power Lines” explores the mystique behind a major inspirational documentary, The Secret.  Three years ago, Oprah Winfrey introduced Rhonda Byrne, creator and producer of The Secret, and some of her colleagues on her show by saying, “My guests today believe that once you discover the Secret, you can immediately start creating the life you want . . . They say you can have it all, and in fact, you already hold the power to make that happen.” 

            As a career and life coach, I’ve guided people into feeling this power to move successfully through their transitions-- from feeling stuck in some work or personal situation, to exploring the place of not-knowing and going deep into their own selves, to moving forward into a new, more rewarding direction.  They were empowered to create a new reality for themselves through learning to focus on what really mattered to them.  And yet, this new reality was born of both their desire to take charge in their own change process-- AND their acceptance of the natural movement of the change process within themselves.  By learning to connect to that universal flow, they accepted their role as co-creators of change and did not have to work so hard to reach their desired outcome.  

            It’s clear that a transitional period in your life can feel easier and more acceptable if it’s experienced as part of a natural flow towards self-actualization-- or being fully who you are.  Unlike the redwood tree in my backyard that sends its roots as far as it can, we humans often struggle to accept our instinctive desire to grow and manifest deeper and fuller aspects of ourselves.  We acclimate to others’ expectations of ourselves in order to be accepted as part of a family or a work team.  And yet, to stay fulfilled, resourced and balanced, we need to stay mindful of the powerful need and movement within ourselves to unfold into our full potential. 

            For those of you who are interested in exploring this aspect of transitions as a natural time of self-actualization, I invite you to join me for my upcoming free tele-class, “Career & Life Transitions-- Am I in One?  What Do I Do Now?”  For further information and to register, please go to:  http://www.kailaslifecoaching.com/?id=presentations

                 Join in the Discussion! 

  • What is an ending that you feel coming up in your career/life now?  How do endings make you feel? 
  • What is a transition you’ve gone through that had a lot of impact in your life?  What has opened up for you because of it?