TRANSITIONS by Hope Baer, MSW, LCSW
Today in a vastly changing world we face many unknowns, which often leaves us asking what’s next? How much longer? How can I prepare? How can I change? Our lack of control, certainty, and predictability puts stress and anxiety on our everyday lives. As humans, we learn from experience and when we look ahead and can’t envision a certain future or have a map to what’s next it is deeply unsettling. This is what the pandemic and the world we live in have triggered.
When our external environment and world around us feel chaotic, disorganized, and unpredictable our internal world can mimic that. Our minds use past experiences to help us react to situations, communicate, and attempt to predict the future, they help us to mentally prepare. These transitions in the world around us can trigger internal conflict and flight, fright, or freeze
responses. Transitions and adjusting to change can result in panic attacks, anxiety, stress, and depression. You are not alone. So what can we do?
Accept the reality that change is inevitable. This does not mean just “go with the flow” it means practicing flexibility and compassion with ourselves and others. By accepting change you are removing the idea that change is bad. Our comfort zone is not our growth zone. Tolerating and getting through uncomfortable situations, and feelings can build our confidence and reframe challenges as growth. Accepting change also means letting go of the past. Many of us are grieving what life was like, or what life will be like. This makes it extremely difficult to sit in the present of “what is”. When we can sit in the present moment and adjust “our new normal” it can often be met with self-judgment and resistance. Understand that this is all practice, it’s new, it’s growth, and practice takes time and is lifelong. Do not judge your process, growth, or where you “should be”.
Practice compassion. This is easier said than done. Compassion with yourself starts with resetting your expectations for yourself. Resetting your expectations of yourself means letting go and acknowledging the existence of the ego. The ego, your sense of self-importance, wants to be perfect, wants to be always right, wants control, aims to always win, and be all-knowing. By understanding and adjusting your ego responses you are letting go of the idea of perfection, and allowing space for imperfections, and vulnerability.
Abbie Kelley (Director and founder of AMK counseling) always says “we reserve the right to change our minds”. Knowing that just because you said something or did something in the past doesn’t mean that you have to force yourself to continue. Knowing that feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are fluid and change over time. Our expectations of ourselves and the world around us can impact the way we communicate with ourselves and others. By letting go of this ideal you are making room for growth and sitting in the vulnerability of “I don’t know” and that’s okay.
Reframe self-care. Self-care is time that we prioritize for ourselves. It means, finding the things that make you feel good. Self-care looks different for everyone, so do not compare yourself to others rather find what makes you happy. Reset your expectations for what workout, eating healthy, socializing, and resting looks like. Start with small attainable goals. For example, rather than “workout” make it a goal to “move your body”. Accomplishing goals feels good, and setting unrealistic goals sets us up for feelings of “failure”. Growth is a process and takes time. Allow yourself to dip your toe in rather than jump in.
Lastly, practice sitting in vulnerability and seek help from therapists, friends, and family. Asking for help can be difficult, and can bruise the ego at the idea of needing help. But we are human. We are not alone and share similar experiences. Sit in the vulnerability, express feelings, and share with others.
What is my expectation of myself? (in the workspace, at home, in relationships)
How does the way I talk to myself feel?
How can I strengthen my relationship with myself?
Ego work: How do you reject others’ views?
What are small goals you can set for yourself?
To learn more visit…
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.