Introduction to Positive Transitioning
by Sheri McConnell
Excerpted from Smart Women Embrace Transitions
What does it mean to be a smart woman?
A smart woman is a woman who consciously does better when she knows better. She does this gracefully and peacefully. She still makes mistakes a lot of the time because after all, smart women don’t sit still and they are always trying new things. They love to live a full life.
For over a decade, I’ve coached hundreds of women through various transitions (business and personal) and discovered that many people struggle a great deal when it comes time to grow—to transition into the new person they are meant to become. For many, it is absolutely painful. They avoid various types of transitions no matter the cost to themselves and the ones they love.
My hope is that by learning how to “lean” into transitions, you will no longer try to force yourself to just be happy but instead you will move forward and do the work to get to the magical life you can have on the other side of the transition.
Why Lean Into Change?
Accepting change can be mentally overwhelming, so I believe if you lean into it, you’re more apt to get started on the process of acceptance today vs. putting it off, burying it, projecting it, or ignoring it all together.
If you’re growing, then transitions should be occurring often in your life. And so transitions can be peaceful once we learn healthy ways to process them. Even something like a divorce or the passing of a loved one can be a peaceful experience. My intention is that this book be a guide… and the many stories in it serve as a safety net of support as you need it.
Five Ways To Lean Into Change Easier and Faster (AKA Positive Transitioning)
Tip Number One
Accept the Present
Part of accepting where you’re at right now is taking responsibility for at least 50% of the current situation. You can’t focus on blaming others or you won’t grow.
So even when bad things happen to us, which we do not knowingly cause, you have to accept the present and trust that there is a bigger purpose even if you can’t see it. And so accepting the present is really the first step in leaning into any type of transition.
Who you spend time with can really change and/or inhibit your ability to be able to accept the present. Because if you’re around blamers and you’re around negativity in any way whatsoever, it can be really hard for people to accept the present. So it sounds like somewhat of an easy thing to just accept the present, and yet, in reality, it is not easy for most people.
Once negative people are removed from your environment, your energy will rise and you will be able to accept the present much easier, no matter what life throws your way.
You May Feel Helpless At Times
You will most likely feel helpless as you begin to learn how to embrace transitions. It is hard to imagine what life will look like on the other side when you make any important transition decision.
Know this: It is not your job to even know the other side yet. It isn’t even your job to imagine what is on the other side. People say to me, “How can I make an important transition decision without having some inkling of what to expect?” That is your head talking, not your heart.
I believe we, as humans, should create with our hearts, not our heads. So the problem for most people is they forget to consciously create their lives. They instead let their lives happen to them.
The universe can be very, very magical, but you have to just trust the process of accepting the present as it is.
So what if you still need more help learning how to accept the present?
Tip Number Two
Practice Gratitude Specifically By Keeping A Gratitude Journal.
I went through my first divorce in 1996. And that one wasn’t very peaceful at all compared to how easy the second divorce was. That one was really, really bad, and some days, I was just grateful for air. I was just grateful that I had a job. And some days, the day had just been so awful that it was really hard to write anything down. But that was the entire point, that there’s always something to be grateful about even if it just basic food, water, and air. That is more than a lot of people have. Get it?
So after practicing gratitude journaling for a couple of years (because back then, I needed the daily practice to heal), a new person emerged out of the transition.
This new person was someone who was grateful by default.
And now today, I literally don’t know any other way to be each day but grateful at my core. It is a very natural thing for me, no matter what is going on at any moment, to pretty much be happy and grateful. And I think that’s one of the keys to why I’m able to process things so quickly.
One of the things I was taught about life lessons is that until you heal in a certain area, you never move past it. The issue will keep recurring. So there are a couple of reasons why gratitude journaling, is very important.
First of all, gratitude heals. The process of journaling is a must because getting things out of your head and onto paper is a very therapeutic process. Journaling is also powerful because it puts something into physical form out in the universe. And once it’s in a physical form in the universe, the universe will help you.
Tip Number Three
Trust Yourself to Change Patterns
Some of our unhealthy patterns may be patterns that we’ve practiced for years and years. And as we get older, we begin to have a deep, underlying belief that we are never going to change and we just kind of accept that “this is all that we’ll ever be.”
The first thing you need to know is you are absolutely going to need support to change patterns. Yes, you must trust yourself to do the work to change the patterns. But please don’t take the journey alone without support.
And so trusting yourself to really be able to let go and change patterns is huge. There is a lot of support that you can dabble in if you don’t feel like actually being accountable to a human right now. I think books are a great way to get that initial support.
You have it in you to transition from unimaginable circumstances very quickly when you just trust yourself to have what you need within you in the moment.
The thing is that in the past, you weren’t accepting the present. You might have been placing blame. You might even have ignored things that never worked in the first place.
My second ex and I both agreed our divorce had been coming from the day we said “I do.” And it’s been very interesting. We’ve talked about this very openly and it felt very, very healing for him to agree that it was our truth, because I let go of guilt in that moment and transitioned. Letting go of guilt helped me move forward and helped him move forward. We both really felt that honoring ourselves was also the best way to move forward for the kids as well.
So we had to trust ourselves to be able to create new, healthier lives and realize that we weren’t supposed to get married in the first place, and yet have no regrets that we did.
I accepted the present and had gratitude for everything that was right along the way. And then I worked at trusting myself to change the patterns that got me there so I could move into a new way of being.
The entire reason to take the transitional journey is for what’s on the other side. And so you really do have to have that deep trust in yourself to learn in each moment.
Move Faster By Having Someone Hold the Space For You
If you want to process transitions faster than you must have a person that you can be accountable to like a coach or mentor. Everybody needs this. I hold the space for so many people to grow and I, at the same time, need people to hold space for me.
Tip Number Four
Forgive Yourself First Then Forgive Others
Forgiving ourselves is part of the healing that allows us to transition. By forgiving ourselves we can grow to be completely new versions of ourselves that we never even imagined ourselves being. But before we can move forward, we have to forgive ourselves for how we got here in the first place. And this can mean forgiving yourself for all of those times that you failed yourself over and over… and over again.
So for example, I’ll talk about weight. It’s something for me that has gone up and down for years and years. Part of my journey in 2011 was the awakening I experienced when I read a book by Marianne Williamson called “A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever”. And when I was reading this book it took me a whole entire year to read. For me at the time because of where I was in my life, Marianne’s message came across so dense and every line seemed so heavy to process. And remember, I am a person who has learned how to process things outside of myself pretty fast. This time however, I finally took the time to process what had built up on the inside of me. The topics she brings up in the book penetrated my psyche so deeply that I experienced an awakening.
I awakened to the fact that I had become a workaholic who sought love from the outside world because I wasn’t getting it at home in my marriage. And I do own the fact that I created at least 50% of the marriage dynamic I found myself in.
In addition to working too much, I used eating as a way to find comfort. During the last 20 years, I found it easier to do these external behaviors than go inside and do the work I needed to do to heal from my childhood. After my awakening (my healing), I was willing to lean into and begin the transition to change.
Forgiving others is also a very important part in your journey of transitioning. You have to work at forgiving others if you ever want to have peace.
So let me share an example on forgiving others. I let my mom go 12 years ago. She’s bipolar and I had her in my life until I was 30 and I let her go so that I could be a better mom. Because I found that when she came around, I was not the mother I wanted to be to my kids and it was because I was so frustrated with her energy because she was just so crazy. I don’t know any other way to say that. If you’ve experienced a bipolar person, then you know what I am talking about.
After letting her go, I had to work through forgiving myself for it, because the guilt would surface on birthdays and holidays. I would say it took me about three years to forgive myself.
When I was able to forgive myself, I started to heal. I’m an amazing mom today. And I don’t know that I could be who I am today had she remained in my life. I share this very personal example because similar but different dynamics keep all of us from really living very peaceful, amazing lives of service.
Tip Number Five
Change Your Environment
While all the previous tips were centered around the internal work you need to do to be able to embrace transitions, this tip is equally powerful but focused on the external. It is also a great way to jumpstart the internal work because it lies in the physical realm.
For most of my clients (and myself at times), we need to change the environment when there is clutter, when we are not taking care of responsibilities or when there is chaos in our lives that prevents us from doing the internal work discussed in all the other tips. And you guessed it… we often subconsciously create the chaos so we don’t have to do the internal work. I know I did and I know my clients do.
Pay attention to your environment. At least once a week, make sure that it’s clean and that it’s pleasing and that it’s always inspiring you. We aren’t seeking perfection here… we are just seeking a pleasing sense of order that will support your growth. This is the physical form of literally having space held for you to be able to lean in and embrace new transitions. The energy of chaos and clutter is a heavy weight on our souls.
I know for me, my mom’s homes always felt heavy. She had clutter on every flat surface that existed, as this was a symptom of her being bipolar.
Creating healthy environments are a part of the healing we do while in transition. Many of you will need a professional organizer to help you remove the clutter. Don’t underestimate how therapeutic this tip is for every part of your life. When you begin to clear away the clutter, pay attention to how much guilt shows up in things that you have trouble letting go of. Remember as life occurs and you spend time on processing a transition and helping family members process transitions, clutter can pile up again. This is normal and your job is to use the physical clearing process as a cathartic way to bring closure to the transition.
Want To Use This Article In Your Ezine or Website? You have my permission, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Sheri McConnell is the CEO of the Smart Women’s Institute. You can visit Sheri, access her free article archive, and grab lots of free tools to live healthy, wealthy and happy at http://www.smartwomeninstitute.com.