Balancing the inner journey with the outer reality
Sometimes a life change starts from the inside. For instance, as you become increasingly dissatisfied with your job, an inner shift begins to happen. You examine more closely what's working and what's not. You begin to look at what else is out there and assess new opportunities. It's as if a new state of mind is developing in you. When that internal process reaches a critical point, you're then ready to make some external changes.
On the other hand, the inner transition can also be set in motion by some important life event. When my father died suddenly, it triggered a prolonged period of self-reflection (my "retreat" stage), which included examining the two closest relationships in my life -- with my husband and my mother. Peter and I started couples counseling and created some important shifts in our communication. I also initiated conversations with my mom that, even though we've always enjoyed a good relationship, took it to an even deeper level.
What about you? What inner and outer transitions have shown up in your life recently? Remember, whether you initiate a particular life change, or whether it comes flying in from left field, you can still count on moving through those 3 predictable stages: Release, Retreat and Rebirth. Let's take a look at some ways that you can navigate all of those phases more consciously, and keep firmly centered in your "circle of one", that innate core of wholeness and wisdom that lies within each one of us … yes, even you!
The four "S's" of change support
In my work with thousands of women over the years both as a Life Transition Coach and Interfaith Minister, I've developed my own little "change-support toolbox". Here are the basic components and I encourage you to add your own special ones to your unique toolkit:
In a society that continues to assign women the role of primary caregiver, the practice of embracing conscious self care is certainly a radical one for many of us. I like to think of it as a 4-legged throne – how will you take care of yourself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually during each of the 3 transition stages? Maybe you'll take a parenting course (mind), make a commitment to walk several days a week (body), plan a special girls' night out (heart) or commit to a simple meditation practice (spirit). Play with whatever feels most nurturing and supportive for replenishing yourself during this tender time.
Carving out sacred time and space just to center yourself is essential when you're on the verge or in the midst of a chaotic change cycle. Maybe it's simply closing your office door (or hiding out in the bathroom!) for five minutes, closing your eyes and taking some deep, cleansing breaths. Can you curl up in a favorite chair for 15 minutes and do some journaling? Or if you're really lucky, maybe you can create your own version of a vision quest … even if it's just a few hours in nearby woods.