The first stage of transition
(to a new job, to a new home, to better health, to motherhood, to a new way of being, to a new life)
I, perhaps like you, was a little shocked when I read this in William Bridges’ famous book on life transitions. I thought, “but even when the change at hand is exciting? is so right? is adorable and squishy or fancy and new or thinner?”
And then I realized.
Some of the changes that I’ve had the hardest time adjusting to in my life have seemed positive and exciting and so right and adorable and squishy and new and thinner on the outside. And because of that, I kind of forgot to leave behind what I was leaving behind.
That unfinished business was what rocked my world during those transitions.
Because even if I felt ready for a change, the way I was was
perhaps working for me on some level
And it was me.
Even if, during transition, you are leaving behind a version of yourself that didn’t feel aligned, that was resentful or dreaming of something better or unwell,
please don’t deny that it was you. And that that you needs to be taken care of too, even if she wasn’t completely happy, even if she was so ready for the next step in her life.
That you – that misaligned you – needs to be acknowledged.
She needs to be thanked for what she’s offered you.
And she needs to be released from her role in your life.
I used to think Letting Go of The Past was something for people with Issues,
a practice better relegated to therapy rooms.
But the thing is this: we don’t live in a vacuum. Our past affects our present. And it can affect the future, if we don’t acknowledge it, learn our lessons, and put it where it belongs.
And so you might be led to wonder: how do I acknowledge my past – the person I used to be or the person I want to unbecome – learn my lessons, and put the past where it belongs?
(because when you put it that way, it sounds like easy business)
The answer is: it depends. The answer is: I can’t answer that for you.
But I can help.
Dive in here:
What experience from my past am I still holding on to?
(some things that we hold on to from the past show up clearly, like a memory that keeps popping up. Some things are more subtle, and show up in other ways. For example, you might experience a fear of failure when you try new things, and be able to link that back to a negative experience of failing when you were a kid. Also, this is not relegated only to negative experiences – sometimes we can cling to positive experiences. That often shows up in the form of high expectations for the future, or a nagging sense of nostalgia for “the good old days.”)
What did I learn from that experience?
(these learnings can be adaptive or maladaptive. An adaptive learning is something that you gain from an experience which is positive and helps you carry on in a healthy way. For example, you might have gotten fired from a job, and learned that you can do hard things, or that that type of work wasn’t right for you. Maladaptive learning is something that you learn that works in the short term to protect you from hurt or failure, but is harmful to you in the long term. For example, a bad relationship might result in you learning that you should never trust anyone again. Sometimes, in the case of really painful experiences, those maladaptive learnings can be what hold us back)
How is what I learned from that experience serving me?
(this too has a light aspect and a shadow aspect. If, for example, your most recent failure has caused you to learn that you shouldn’t try things you’ve never done before, then it might be serving you in the short term by keeping you safe from feelings of failure, but in the long term, it’s probably damaging).
What do I want to take with me from that experience? What do I want to leave behind?
How can I leave that experience behind?
Sometimes shedding a previous experience or way of being can be a long and deeply challenging process. Sometimes you feel the need to seek support from a coach or therapist to help you on that path before you can truly step into what the future holds for you.
Or you might want to DIY it.
One of my favourite ways to release past experiences is to hold a releasing ritual.
I usually do it on the full moon, which is ripe for supporting the release of what’s not serving us anymore.
Or you can join me in two days – on January 12th at 9p.m. AST – for a group coaching call where I will support you to release the aspects of the last year that are no longer serving you. The call is free, and I would love it if you would join us. Here is the link to the call.
I wish you all the best as you begin this journey forward. And, in the wise words of my daughter’s favourite Disney princess…. “Let it go!”