Three Steps to Conquer Life Transitions: Big and Small
In Italy, they refer to life transitions as “lupus in fabula” or the “wolf in the fairytale.”
When you think things are going along smoothly, the wolf suddenly appears and turns your world upside down. Life transitions are changes or adjustments that impact your life in a significant way. A transition alters your plans, your place in that plan, or your sense of purpose. Transitions can be centered around something exciting like starting a new career, getting married, or having a baby. Conversely, life transitions can be instigated by distressing situations such as losing a loved one, breaking up a relationship, or a divorce., Additionally, life transitions can be prompted by milestones such as celebrating a significant birthday, graduating from high school or college, or becoming an empty nester.
To understand why any life transition is challenging, we must first understand a bit about our brains.
One part of our brain is ancient as it originated when humans lived in caves and needed to remain safe in groups and inside caves for survival. We call this our Primitive Mind. Our Primitive Mind wants us to stick with what we know and controls all aspects of our basic needs to survive. Our Primitive Mind is programmed to keep us safe and to protect us from the unknown entities of new experiences. Feelings of worry, anxiety, and fear stem from the thoughts generated as our Primitive Mind attempts to keep us secure and in familiar surroundings.
Additionally, we have the Prefrontal Cortex or our Intellectual Mind.
The Intellectual Mind is the more evolved part of our brain and is located in the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex. This part of our brain is in charge of executive functions such as planning, decision-making, and orchestrating thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals. We must engage our Intellectual Mind to override the natural feelings of fear and insecurity that stem from our Primitive Mind.
As a Life Transition Coach, I offer 3 Tips that I have found helpful for my clients when they are facing any life transition:
1. Check Your Narrative
95 % of our thinking is unconscious. What are you saying to yourself? Notice how your thinking creates your feelings. Are you worried or fearful about the unknown? Understand that this is your Primitive Mind doing its job, i.e., trying to keep you safe. Begin to override your Primitive Mind with thoughts from your Intellectual Mind. Your Intellectual Mind is responsible for setting and attaining goals and executing big and small life changes. Try some “bridge thoughts” that might help move you toward the results you want to create. Some helpful “bridge thoughts” might be “I am becoming a person who…” or “I’m open to believing that I can …..” or “ I have successfully coped with a difficult transition before, and I can manage this too.”
2. Set Goals Yourself
Dream. Allow yourself to want and plan for your future. Most of us are so busy putting out fires and reacting to everything happening around us that we don’t allow ourselves to dream. Setting a goal gives our brain a deliberate focus. You can predict where you are going in life by what you are telling your brain to think about. Write your goals down. Once you get a goal out of your brain and onto a piece of paper, it will suddenly become real outside of your imagination. That is powerful. Read it every single day. Finally, work backward to make an action plan. Allow your mind to arrive at the place where you have accomplished this goal. What are you thinking and feeling? Now, work backward to understand all the small goals you had to complete to get there. If there are things that you are not sure how to do, then that goal would include finding the right person to help you with this step. Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction is the biggest step in your life. What is one small thing that you can do right now to begin this process?
3. Practice Self Care
Understand that discomfort is the price of growth. Change can be difficult, and the reality is that you will only sometimes navigate life transitions perfectly. Failure is part of the process when setting and attaining new goals as you navigate life transitions. Don’t beat yourself up. It is important to be kind and compassionate to yourself with supportive self-talk. Offer yourself thoughts like, “It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and stressed. This is just my primitive brain trying to keep me safe.” Engage your prefrontal cortex in thoughts like “I’m not afraid of failing.” “I’m going to try to do the best that I can at this moment.”
We all experience life transitions; some are harder than others. Understanding a little bit about neuroscience can help you navigate these changes. When you feel anxious, understand that your Primitive Mind is just doing its job as it is programmed to keep you safe and out of harm’s way. Zone in on your feelings and the sentences in your brain that are responsible for those feelings.
Engage your Intellectual Mind to set goals and action steps. This will help you to navigate these changes whether they be big or small. Finally, be good to yourself. Be your own best friend and cheerleader. The Italians have another saying, “A chi vuole, non mancano modi,” which translates to “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Embrace the wolf that has invaded your fairytale and be the hero of your own life story!
Begin Working With A Life Transition Coach in Florida
We all experience life transitions or changes both big and small. Some life transitions are harder and more stressful than others. You do not need to go it alone. If you feel stuck, overwhelmed, or confused reach out for a free consult. I can help you with this stressful moment in your life. I am also happy to assist clients with Mediation anywhere in the state of Florida along with online divorce coaching and life transition coaching. You can start your therapy journey with Successful Solution by following these steps:
- Contact me for a free consultation
- Get to know me and my coaching process
- Start coping with life transitions, big or small!