So…I’ve been thinking….
Maybe the transition times of life have commonalities that we can all learn and grow from as we examine them and discover ways of coping and moving forward.Â Here’s a brief list of things I have personally found helpful for moving forward during my time of transition; my hope is that you will find these useful in navigating your own season of change. If nothing else, please let it be a reminder that you are certainly not alone — and not losing your mind — we can learn and grow and move forward together!
- Identify specific emotions.Â Â
When I can name something, I am one step closer to getting my mind around it to bring it under control. I literally have taken a spiral notebook and written down the date, what I am feeling, and what prompted it. I have aÂ feeling wheel that helps me identify what is happening in my emotions when I can’t articulate it. This is a practical action I can take when I feel my emotions are becoming unmanageable.
- Examine my thoughts at this time.Â
Our thoughts drive our feelings. Whatever I am thinking will produce something in my emotions. If I can get my thoughts in line, I can manage my feelings. Any transition in life, but perhaps especially when our children leave home, is naturally a huge adjustment because we have thought about their needs and well-being for years. Now, we still think of these things, but there is no way for us to take action on our thoughts like we did when they lived under our roof. So — what do I do with my thoughts of them? How do I direct them in a healthy way? As a person of faith, I have turned to praying for my children in a new and deeper way. When I think of them and begin to feel sadness, I stop that unhelpful thought, and use that opportunity to pray specifically for them. Almost always, I can see that my thoughts center on my own feelings of loss; I can choose to flip that, and instead, trust God with the concerns of my heart, and use my mental space to lift up my children in prayer. I must force myself to focus on the truths that I know.
- Look forward to the future.
It has been immeasurably helpful to me to focus on what’s coming up, what I can look forward to, what’s happening next.Â Â At first, this was centered around my kids….when will they be home for a visit? What fun thing can I plan for that time together? When might I be able to go for a visit to see them in their new environment? It eases pain to look past it to the good that’s coming. But, I’ve also noticed, as time goes on…it’s important to think about MY life now, too. It has changed. That’s good in many ways. What does God have for me now, in this new season of life? What are my interests, gifts, abilities, strengths, desires? I have found that my desire to show love and affection, my desire to teach and guide, to coach…none of that disappeared when my children left home. So, I am in the process of figuring out what that might look like now for me with a different set of ‘students’.Â I am looking for ways to live and produce and create and thrive in the way God intended, using the gifts He’s given me. It’s exciting! And it feels good to be excited again about future possibilities.
These are just 3 small steps that I have taken that have helped me enormously in coming to terms with my ‘new normal’.Â One final thing I’d add — it is important to grieve this transition — that is healthy. Change is hard and seems abnormal.Â Â But, in our grieving process, we do not want to allow our lives to become unmanageable. I hope that you find these tips useful and something you can easily put into practice!Â If so, I’d love to hear what’s working – or what isn’t – we’re in this together!
If you are still reading this, know I am praying for you, dear reader. Whatever your particular season of transition is, God knows and He sees. You are not alone.Â