As I reflect on my life decade that is soon drawing to a close, one word comes to mind: TRANSITION.
Perhaps more than any other decade, my 50s have been a time of enormous transition – some great, some not-so-great. I never would have imagined 10 years ago that I would undergo so many monumental changes in my life, or that my sense of safety and well-being would be challenged to the extent they have been.
I have experienced some very difficult circumstances at times that, while I was in the midst of them, I just couldn’t see my way through to a happy (or, at least, satisfactory) resolution. The discomfort I experienced would become overwhelming until I could manage to wrestle my thoughts away from the negative events of the past and the uncertainty of the future.
I would sometimes feel completely stuck in the liminal space of knowing I couldn’t continue along the trajectory I was on and not knowing how to reclaim my sense of purpose and well-being.
But what is required of us while in those liminal spaces is … well … to remain in them for however long it takes for clarity to arise.
That is the path of true growth.
The alternative is that we slip back into the old ways of being that no longer serve us. Or to leap forward without a clear sense of where we’re going and what we want to create.
No, in spite of the discomfort and dis-ease we might experience during those times of transition, if we don’t allow ourselves to feel the feelings that accompany uncertainty, we’ll never experience the kind of growth we’re being called to step into.
So how do we manage our emotions during times of transition? How do we avoid the frustrations, the fear, the sense of overwhelm?
The first task is to accept that life is non-linear, and as such, it naturally includes times of upheaval. Most of us in our middle years have experienced at least one major “life quake” that seemed insurmountable at the time.
And if you’re not in the midst of one now, you probably have been already. At the very least, you’ll know someone who is. Lots of someones, even…
With that acceptance comes a kind of surrender to what is, a releasing of the need to know the outcome now, to somehow force it into existence before its time.
Then – and this is a BIG ask – if we can bring a sense of curiosity to the experience, and simply ask I wonder how this will all unfold? we will be in a much better frame of mind to come through it in a way that expands and uplifts, instead of allowing ourselves to be contracted and defeated by it all.
Asking for help can be crucial in times of transition as well. We don’t need to go through it alone, and getting support from another or others who themselves have experienced something similar can be powerfully connecting and restorative.
And finally, knowing you will get through it, no matter how bleak your circumstances may seem, will give you a sense of empowerment and agency that will stand you in good stead the next time a difficult situation arises.
Because, my dear souls, they will arise again. And that is a beautiful uncertainty you can count on!