How do you feel about change?
Some people love change and new experiences, and others have a harder time making big life transitions. We often understand that transitions of all kinds are tough on children, but we forget to acknowledge that major life changes are tough on adults too.
Why are life transitions hard to deal with?
Life transitions can come about for a lot of reasons. Some common transitions that can be difficult to cope with include:
- Going to college
- Moving to a new house / town
- Changing schools
- Starting or ending a relationship
- Moving in with a partner
- Becoming a parent
- Friendships ending
- Changes in financial situation
- Being diagnosed with or developing an illness
Life transitions can take us out of our daily routine, away from our support networks, and our comfort zones. They can even bring up feelings of grief, like grief for what used to be, or grief for what will no longer be because of this life transition. Fear of the unknown can also make life transitions daunting.
Change can sometimes make us feel unsafe, because it takes us away from our daily routines where we feel comfortable and secure. This is especially true for folks who have a trauma history. People with traumatic experiences in their backgrounds often experienced intense life transitions or chaotic environments that led them to feel chronically unsafe. Changes in the present can bring up those memories and make life transitions feel even more upsetting than they already are.
Are you in the middle of a life transition?
Life transitions can be complicated emotionally, even when it’s for something positive. If you’re going through a transition in your life, here are 6 ways to make peace with this shift:
How to make peace with life transitions
Make time for your memories
Life transitions can bring up a lot of grief. It’s often painful to have major changes in your day to day life, even if they’re changes based on choices you decided to make. Lots of folks feel like if they make a decision to change things, they can’t miss the way things used to be. You’re allowed to feel whatever feelings come up for you, even if they’re confusing. It makes sense that a major life shift would bring up feelings of missing the way things used to be or wondering if you made the right choice. One way to acknowledge the complicated feelings that come up in regard to life transitions is to make time for honoring your memories. What about your old life do you miss? What do you wish could have stayed the same? It’s okay to think about those things when you’re in the midst of a life transition.
Develop a ritual
A tough part of life transitions is the way they get in the way of our daily routines. We thrive on routine, and for a lot of us it can feel like our lives are out of whack when we don’t have a set routine. In times of transition, see how you can implement some new rituals into your life to help give you a sense of support throughout your days. Maybe you can come up with a daily routine that feels supportive for you in this new phase of your life.
Rituals can also help you say goodbye and feel closure regarding how your life used to be before this transition. It might feel helpful to find a way to acknowledge the loss and confusion you feel so you can move forward.
Trust in yourself
Sometimes it’s helpful to remind yourself that you have your own back. Trusting yourself to figure things out can make you feel more empowered and less flustered when things get tough. Even if you’re struggling, remind yourself that you are capable of getting through this. You’ve figured out everything else so far. Trust that you can figure this out too.
Practice self compassion
Sometimes life is hard and you won’t have it all together. Even if you’re not handling something as well as you want to, make sure to give yourself lots of self-compassion. We’re all a lot meaner to ourselves than we even realize.
Try to pay attention to that little voice in your head that isn’t that nice to you. We all experience self-talk, and a lot of the time it’s automatically negative. Learning how to notice your negative self talk gives you a chance to interrupt it and show yourself compassion instead.
Give yourself things to look forward to
When life gets hard, it’s important to give yourself things to look forward to. This can be something like going to see a movie, picking out a new book to read, or visiting a friend. Anything that makes you feel good and helps you take your mind off of the stress of this life transition works!
The feeling of anticipation and hope that come up when you’re looking forward to something can go a long way when you’re struggling to adjust to your new daily life. Remember, you’re allowed to enjoy yourself, even if you’re going through something difficult. You can hold more than one truth at a time – life is hard and weird right now, but you’re allowed to find joy where you can.
Ask for help
We’re not meant to go through life alone. We’re social creatures, and connection is wired into our brains. Connecting with others helped our ancestors survive when things got hard, and connection can help you in the present when you struggle. Who is in your support system? Maybe you have folks in your life locally, or maybe most of your loved ones are at a distance. Spend some time thinking about who is in your support system and how you can ask for help when you need it. A lot of us feel uncomfortable asking for help because we feel like we have to figure everything out on our own. No one can make it alone, and asking for help (and giving help) is a big part of how we relate to others in our communities.