By Marianne Clyde
Have you ever walked into a House of Mirrors at an amusement park?
Sometimes it feels disorienting, doesn’t it? Trying to navigate your way through it, especially without help, can be frustrating and confusing. The similarities with a life transition can be uncanny!
You look into one mirror, and you look distorted, misshapen, not like yourself at all. You find yourself asking, “Who IS that?! I don’t recognize her at all.”
When you find yourself alone after your children leave the nest, you might be wondering who you are without them.
Feeling unsteady after losing a job, either through retirement, being fired or just deciding it’s time to go? It’s such a common feeling when a career or community or scheduled existence becomes part of your identity, you can easily feel lost when it’s gone.
It can feel like a house of mirrors as you try to find your way through. You make a turn and bump into an obstacle; you try to change direction and feel dizzy. You think you had a clear view of yourself, now it’s all distorted.
To help ease your fear, confusion and sense of imbalance as you are making a life transition here are a few ways to navigate through the changes you are experiencing: (Next week I’ll add some more.
Embrace Change as an Adventure: Approach life transitions with a sense of curiosity and excitement, just like exploring a House of Mirrors. Acknowledge that change is a natural part of life and can lead to new opportunities and growth. Instead of focusing how much you will miss the familiar routines, try to focus on the freedom and choices that come across your path that might not have been possible in your previous situation.
Reflect on Past Achievements: Just as you might glance back at the reflection of your past in a mirror, take time to appreciate your accomplishments. Reflect on your strengths and experiences to build confidence and resilience for the upcoming changes. Allow yourself to consider that fact that you really are AMAZING and have learned and accomplished some truly impressive things over the years.
Identify Your Values and Goals: Similar to finding your bearings amidst distorted reflections, clarify your values and long-term goals. Understanding what truly matters to you will help guide decisions and actions during these transitions. Sometimes when we are in the heat of the battle, we don’t have the time, or take the necessary time to identify where we are and what we really want out of life. This is a perfect opportunity to slow down and get your bearings.
Seek Support from Friends and Family: Just as friends can be your guides in a House of Mirrors, rely on your support network during life changes. Share your thoughts and concerns with trusted friends or family members who can offer encouragement and advice. This is even a wonderful time to forge new paths and explore new relationships. Consider if the relationships you have been in are the relationships that are best for you. Perhaps it would be a great time to join new associations and groups, or even just identify people that you think are interesting and schedule a lunch or coffee date with them.
Consider Professional Guidance: In the House of Mirrors, you might ask for directions from an attendant. Likewise, consider seeking guidance from a counselor, coach, or therapist. They can provide objective insights and strategies to manage challenges. There are people along the way that have been where you are and have gained some wisdom and insights into the journey that you might have not been in a position to consider before now. This insight, advice and encouragement to look at things in a different way can be extremely helpful and shed some new light on the situation.
Action Step: In order to get control on things, try each of the above steps and see if it helps you reframe your sense of well being during your transition. Watch for Part two of this blog next week.