Hard to believe we’re rounding the corner and nearing the end of July. It’s been a busy summer for me, as I’m sure it has been for you too.
I’m paying particular attention these days to life transitions and their impact. My firstborn is just weeks from heading off to college. We’re incredibly excited for her but I have to say, the thought of her heading out into the world also makes me sad. It’s a big transition for her, for sure, but I think it’s an equally big change for me.
Transition navigation is tricky; not many of us are taught how to move through the challenging emotions that these types of changes bring up. Fear, uncertainty, worry, a sense of loss all can crop up from time to time, whether we’re sending a child off to college, changing careers, or starting our own business. So we sort of stumble through the experience, hoping that we’ll find our footing along a rocky path.
One of the biggest challenges for people undergoing change is understanding that emotions are liminal. Like the tides that ebb and flow, the emotions that accompany significant life events tend to rise and fall, appear and disappear. In my situation, I vacillate between brilliant excitement for my daughter’s big adventure in a new city and a deep sense that things will never be exactly as they are right now.
And that’s okay.
It’s okay for me to swing between those extremes. I’m keenly aware that by acknowledging exactly what I’m feeling (melancholy, anticipation, tension, etc.), the feeling I’m experiencing is free to expand my awareness. It’s a natural part of the human journey and the more willingly I accept it and acknowledge it, the more quickly the feeling moves on. Or, if it’s something that motivates me to change, the more easily I can take the next step.
I’d like you to consider whether you’re resisting something that you’re feeling deeply. (And it doesn’t need to be a negative feeling either.) Maybe it’s angst? Excitement? Frustration? A call to an adventure? Thoughts about a career change? Ask yourself what message is behind the emotion. What, if anything, are you resisting? And what might happen if you simply let that emotion move into your awareness, acknowledge it and then release it? Or if it feels inspiring, might you take the next step toward something you really want to see happen.
Maybe you’d ask for the promotion? Or revisit the book you’re writing? Maybe you’d pick up that camera again and start taking more photos? Remember, the feeling has a message for you. You are worth the time it will take to figure out what that message is.
Martha Beck-certified life coach, Equus coach, Penn State journalism instructor and professional writer.