I’ve been working with people experiencing a transition period for many years. Everything around each of us is in a constant state of flux, to one degree or another. Especially the things we believe are fixed. And, yet, I frequently forget that change is the most normal part of life.

Let today be a day where you take nothing for granted.
For life is fleeting, fragile and precious and can change on a whim.
Say all the things you really want to say to your loved ones today,
say the things you would regret should they pass on and your words remain unspoken.
Rejoice, for you and they are alive today … and should you or them pass on to unknown
shores, rejoice even more for you have a wonderful love story to tell. – Jackson Kiddard

Kiddard emphasises this so well. Transitions happen in less than a moment’s notice; their effects may last for as long as living memory and remain unprocessed in thoughts and emotions – until a new perspective allows for a change in their intensity.

Life moments come and go. Memories of them can be sharp, vague, minimal, possibly even intense and in your face. And yet… all they show is a time that has come and gone, forgotten, remembered, or not. Time maps their presence into some form of order.

Whatever the chronology of events, it is never what really happened that’s important. No. It is always what we think we witnessed happening that determines the impression and belief about the circumstance. Ultimately, it’s always down to viewpoint and perspective.

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First, a reminder. Change is normal. Just look at emotions and feelings. They come and go. No matter how excited, frightened, angry or upset you may feel at the precise moment, with time, they change. Aging, digestion and the position of the sun or moon, all change. They follow their patterns of incremental shift from this now in time, to the next now, during which unrecognisable transformations can occur.

It is human to believe things are fixed or permanent; unable to ever shift from their current position. It is also a delusion that requires us to start examining our psyche and beliefs. We perceive our thoughts/beliefs as carved in stone, as total truths. And yet, they are frequently faulty.

To initiate an internal shift requires a re-orientation away from the fixed towards the possible. An injection of flexibility – a melting of stubbornly held beliefs about the truth of so many things.

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. – George Bernard Shaw

A shift in perspective provides the opportunity for a change to happen. In this Bernard Shaw is correct. Everything in the human experience begins within the mind: first we think, then we feel and then we react or respond; unless we make a different choice, because we’ve reviewed what’s happening and decided another course would be better – for whatever reason.

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In my training as a funeral celebrant, I was introduced to a Latin word: Liminality –

Liminality (n) the transitional period or phase of a rite of passage, during which the participant lacks social status or rank, remains anonymous, shows obedience and humility, and follows prescribed forms of conduct, dress, etc.

Liminal or threshold moments happen frequently in life, from asleep to awake, from life to death, from one place to another – often with no warning. These are profound changes, when the known is stripped away, and everything related to it goes awry.

To me, these are times of transition; times when a relationship is no more, a disease diagnosed, a time of the loss of “a life definite” into an uncertain, unknown territory.

Whilst a transition can be a time of change for the worse, it can also become a change for the better. The arrival of good news, good fortune, a new relationship, new hope, a new role in life – are also times of transition.

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William Bridges defines transitions in the following definition:

Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological.
It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation or self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t take.

Here he is pointing towards a view that for a transition in life, there needs to be a genuine and deeply chosen inner shift of personal awareness; characterised by a definite choice to be other than the current state of affairs. In this, I agree with him. 

Here he is pointing towards a view that for a transition in life, there needs to be a genuine and deeply chosen inner shift of personal awareness; characterised by a definite choice to be other than the current state of affairs. In this, I agree with him. 

Going forward, I’d suggest the following thoughts and ideas:

– Change is a normal part of life, often occurring in ways we cannot imagine. Be aware of this, and accept that they will happen and happen anyway, regardless of what you think

– Transitions and liminality affect us all – you can choose the ‘how’ – your perception and decisions are yours and yours alone. You get to respond with your chosen beliefs, and these can drive your reactions to the circumstances

– You are far more powerful than any fears you have, that tell you things are beyond your power and (inner) control. You have tremendous resources at your disposal, at any given time, and these resources give you power to deal with the slings and arrows of life.

I agree that these suggestions may seem too simple, yet many of life’s issues really do have a simple solution – often just a change of perspective works magic. Let’s look at some examples.

Firstly, surviving a fall downstairs with only a broken arm – some people believe this is unlucky, others lucky – after all it could have been a broken back. 

Secondly, walking away from a severe motoring accident. Walking away is good, regardless of the damage to your vehicle. 

Thirdly, the loss of a relationship that wasn’t working and made you unhappy, such as: a work role where you were unappreciated, a personal relationship that was empty, a business partnership long overdue a divorce. You can certainly grieve for the loss, but the chance exists for you to find a new way to live in the world and to find happiness. A new adventure. 

The difference in each is ‘active choosing’, the choice to see things from another viewpoint. Life is what we perceive it to be. Our view or perception starts with our mind and what we believe, and think is true or real. Make a shift here and everything has the possibility to be different.

And, Dear Reader, I hope that provides you with the tools to deal with life, its transitory nature and seemingly fickle ways. How about a conversation about this?