How to Get Through Tough TimesLife transitions such as moving, change of job, retirement, personal changes in health, or death of a loved one opens an emotional can of uncertainty. 

Change can shake you to your core.  Feelings like anxiety, confusion, and sadness can paralyze your efforts to move forward.

Transitions dare you to adapt to change in new ways.  Fortunately, wisdom from past experiences help serve as your internal compass.  Change offers opportunities to learn new tricks with new tools – which open new doors to new opportunities.

“What you are is what you have been,” said Gautama Buddha. “What you will be is what you do now.”

Easier said than done.

It takes time for your emotional center to adapt to changes and rarely do internal changes occur at the speed of external changes.  When life transitions rattle your cage and force you to make changes, you adapt by making internal and external adjustments to the circumstances.

William Bridges, author of Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, explains that successful change takes place when you have “a clear purpose, a plan for, and a part to play” in the circumstances affecting your life. He describes three phases that allow you to successfully move through change:

  1. Release old ways of doing things. Old habits often feel comfortable.  When habits no longer serve you, it’s hard to let go of them because they are familiar.  Time is needed to grieve the loss of what was and to adjust to living your life in new ways.  
  2. Prepare for change during the in-between time.  Bridges calls this a “neutral time;” Jeff Bracken says this is a time to “creatively explore and discover new ways of doing things.”  Bracken adds that chaos of uncertainty provides opportunities to spark new interests and experiment with new tools.
  3. Adjust to new beginnings. When new ways of doing things replace old habits and common rituals, you forge a new identity.   You regain confidence when you learn new skills and new ways of adapting to the changes around you.  You begin to feel more optimistic.  This leads to a renewed sense of purpose.

“Sometimes to get from where we are to where we are going, we have to be willing to be in-between,” explains Melody Beattie, author of The Language of Letting Go.  “To prepare ourselves for the new, we need to first let go of the old.  This can be frightening.  We may feel empty and lost for a time.  We may feel all alone, wondering what is wrong with us for letting go of the proverbial bird-in-hand, when there is nothing in the bush.”

As you move through change, you will gradually regain your footing and find solid ground.  Circumstances that once seemed like roadblocks become important arrows that lead you in new directions and to new experiences.

Mike Dooley, author of Leveraging the Universe: 7 Steps to Engaging Life’s Magic , insists, “Our positive thoughts are at least 10,000 times more powerful than our negative thoughts.”  Positive thought motivates you to focus on positive outcomes and offers opportunities to explore new experiences you might not have previously considered.

Consider these proactive transition tips when you experience change:

* Begin a gratitude journal.  When you feel uncomfortable thoughts creeping into your consciousness, recall those things for which you feel grateful.  Gratitude shifts your focus from lack to optimism – even when it feels like there’s nothing that deserves your appreciation.

Melody Beattie offers reassurance and explains, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

I began a gratitude journal when I lost my job.  I wanted to experience something new – even though I did not yet know what the next career move would be.  I committed to a daily writing practice of writing at least 3 statements of gratitude about positive blessings in my life.  Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, provided wonderful gratitude journal guidance.

* Write positive affirmations.  Put the positive in your affirmations by focusing deliberate intention on what you believe is possible.  Affirmations are personal and specific.

A constructive affirmation such as “Lucrative opportunities always come my way” invites prosperity and celebrates abundance.  When I say “Spectacular ideas flow to me in a river of abundance,” I acknowledge creative opportunities are at my disposal whenever I am open to inspiration.

* Do something you love to do every day.  It may feel more comforting to withdraw from others or postpone the work of adapting to changes in your life, especially if you are experiencing multiple transitions.  Although it is important to take good care of yourself, especially during transitions.  Do things that make you feel confident, positive, and in control.

Transitions often make additional demands on your available time and financial resources.  Set aside as little as 15 minutes a day to do something you enjoy.  Focus on the time you have; not on the time you do not have available.

* Find support.  Find a group with members who are experiencing similar changes.  Many groups have well-organized and detailed directories that promote meetings, sponsor special events, and attract new members.  Local libraries, community centers, churches, and on-line networking groups provide information and resources that connect like-minded individuals in ways they can inspire and motivate one another.

Bob Marley once said, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”  Even when change leads to wonderful opportunities, it is often excruciatingly difficult to let go of what was.

Change is not easy, but it can inspire you to do new things in new ways.  As you look back and examine the fabric of your life and recall how you adapted to change over time, you discover you actually are stronger and wiser in ways you never expected.

That is what growth is all about.

What new opportunities do you want to explore?


Use these tips and discover How to Feel Gratitude (Even When You Don’t Want To).

Find out How to Manage Change (Without Chaos).

Moving through change is easier when you have a system of support. Use these tips to Build Your Support System.

Need help expressing what you want to say? Check out How to Say What You Want & Need.

Change your direction by changing your thoughts. Read Escape the Scarcity Mentality Jungle.




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