Change is the only constant.
Sometimes it comes in small, barely noticeable drips into our lives, and others it swoops in and transforms our worlds or our communities overnight. It can also be highly personal or affect an entire society all at once—just think about how the digital revolution has reshaped entire industries, making some jobs obsolete and creating myriads of new ones.
But no matter what shape or form change takes, one thing is for sure: we need to accept it, embrace it, and work on making the most of it.
Indeed, whether a change is voluntary or involuntary, smooth or rocky, a lot of work goes into starting fresh—and it will never be all smooth sailing or a straight-forward process. So what's the best way to go through such a transition and come out as a better version of yourself, fully equipped to write a fresh new chapter in life?
Feel Your Feelings
A major life shift can range from a traumatic experience to the end of a relationship or a working partnership, a cross-country move, or a significant loss. No matter what it is, an initial shock to the system is always involved, followed by a period of mourning. It's always important to accept those challenging emotions and make space for them, so you can then truly let them go.
"Emotions are real. Emotions are not good or bad. They are flowing every day: sometimes they flow freely and others, we block them inside and push ourselves physically and mentally. Our bodies are containers that hold and let go of emotions, memories, feelings and thoughts. We are not supposed to lock them all up and keep them inside," said Phoebe Greenacre, a spiritual coach and therapist. According to Greenacre, there's nothing more powerful than acknowledging and then letting go of those heavy feelings, be it through breathwork, taking time off work, or simply allowing yourself to cry.
The Power of Patience
But even when you do start to feel better and find gleamers of positivity, the challenges won't necessarily disappear overnight. For instance, you might have found the courage to quit your job, but you will need to face setbacks and rejections before your new business idea takes off. Or you might have finally found the courage to let go of the toxic friendships holding you back, but rebuilding your social circle will take consistent effort—the right people won’t just suddenly come knocking on your door.
Sounds harsh? It doesn't have to be, because a slower process of transformation makes for a more rewarding journey and better results at the end. Think of yourself as a caterpillar, inkling to escape its cocoon and see itself blossom as a butterfly, but having to wait until it has shed all its layers of skin before the time is right to fly away.
It's why patience is probably one of the most important virtues you will work on developing, when undergoing any shift in life.
You might have a certain timeline in your head about how much work a new project will take or how much time off you'll need before life feels easy again. But sometimes there are bigger forces at play than the narratives in our heads, and the transition might just take a little longer than you had imagined. When you trust the process and constantly remind yourself that everything you seek will come at the right moment, the process will flow more easily and you might even learn to appreciate the waiting time, as much as the final reward.
Stay Close to Your Vision
Alongside patience, having a vision will make all the difference. How do you want the challenge or the transition you're currently facing to transform you? Do you want to come out mentally stronger, more intellectually fulfilled, and healthier instead of dwelling on the past? Visualize the version of yourself who has gone past the uncomfortable stages and emerged new and improved. Think of that person's journey, the challenges that made him or her so resilient, the values and daily rituals they live by.
You can do this by setting time aside to get lost in your thoughts and daydream—contrary to popular belief, we know this is far from a waste of time. You can also visit your future self during a meditation, write about your vision in a journal, or create a vision board with images of what you want your future to look like.
Never Forget Gratitude
During those uncomfortable periods, where emotions and situations are shifting, daily journaling and reminders of what you are grateful for will become your best friend. It might seem harder or near impossible to find positives in the face of loss, rejection, or a sudden change of circumstances. But this is when you need gratitude more than ever.
You might need to start small and give thanks for your delicious morning coffee, the blue sky, or a smile from a passerby. But as time goes by and you dig deeper, you will inevitably find people, situations, and personal gifts worth being grateful for. They will in turn act as your guiding light out of the darkness, the doubt, and the confusion that usually comes with major change.
"When something terrible happens in my life, like the unexpected death of my former husband, I look to see what else is happening in my life at the same time. Any upbeat developments I see can help to point to a way to heal. The universe will always strive for balance by delivering happy news, often at the same time," wrote celebrated astrologist Susan Miller, who looks to the stars and the planets to better understand the energy and state of the world.
These magic synchronicities of the universe have been proven time and time again, both in our own lives and those of the people around us. So when experiencing a challenging shift in yourself, your circumstances, or the world around you, it’s worth remembering that things always fall into place. With patience, a compelling vision and heaps of gratitude, you have the power to turn around any period of discomfort into an opportunity for rebirth and renewal.