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Part 2: Advice on Navigating Life Transitions and Insights about Life Transition Therapy in Georgia

In our last blog, I utilized the picture of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly to talk about a common feeling of becoming “goo” that we may have during the shift from one life transition to a new one. In part 1 related to explaining life transitions; I noted that not only does the term life transition include the big moments that we commonly think of but it also includes smaller moments, or as Fleurish counseling notes anytime that there is a change in our status quo.

As a life transition therapist and a group practice with a team of therapist that commonly walks alongside our clients in a holistic, trauma-informed perspective we may often usual metaphors or visualizations to help our clients discuss concepts like life transitions and moving through them.

Another common picture that I talk about with some of my clients is imagining going on a road trip. 

Car driving down the road towards a destination

This road trip or a car driving down the road picture can be used to describe many aspects, especially as you visualize a life transition. 

Some of my clients talk about feeling “stuck” or that they don’t know where they are going. They describe how this can be some of the hardest part of the life-transition times or even the time leading up to the life-transition season. 

What I mean by that is that sometimes we know a change is coming and have time to “prepare” for it. That time can be a season of unsettledness as well because it can feel tough to be present in the current reality of life, but we also may experience uncertainty of how to get to the next place / what the next season will be like. Or for some of my clients who identify as “high-achieving” or “perfectionist,” they want to prepare the “right” way for the upcoming life transition.  

In today’s blog post, I wanted to share some examples of how to prepare for upcoming life transitions if you know one is coming, and I also want to share some recommendations for when you are in the midst of the life transition. Because I am a therapist and this is a group counseling practice, I will also share a few reasons therapy could be helpful during seasons of life transitions. 

How to prepare for upcoming life transitions:

Let’s continue using that picture of a road trip; I was talking with a client recently and we were exploring things she might do to prepare for an upcoming trip and then considering if that could also be applied to the upcoming life transitions. I recently went on a big roadtrip with my family, and there were a few things I did to prepare. 

  1. I looked up the place we were traveling to and used that to be mindful of what things we might need to pack.

  2. I considered who was going on the road trip and what things I might need. Personally, I have two young kids. That meant that we needed a whole lot more than when I used to pride myself on traveling as light as I could. 

  3. I took time to think about how long I would be gone and if there was anything that needed to be done in my personal life before I got there and while I was there; my goal was to be able to feel present in the moment while on the road trip and trip.  

  4. I thought about what we might be doing on the trip and if there was anything I needed while I was there. This might be special gear, a document, a training, etc.; it depends on the trip you are going on. 

  5. I did what I could do to prepare ahead of time. When I was growing up that meant that you printed off MapQuest directions and prayed that there was no detour because the map didn’t update as you went along. All jokes of the past aside, I prepared for the trip and car ride. Because I have young kids, I took this a little more intentionally than I would have if it was just me. 

How does this connect to preparing for life transitions that we know are upcoming: 

  1. Take time to consider where you are going / where you might want to go.

  2. Ask yourself what kind of preparation would you want / need to get there. Is this a course or a moving truck or to connect to feelings; perhaps an acknowledgement that the life-transition change might take time to settle into. There is power in validating and naming. So, naming that a move to a new city might take you a few years to feel more at home might be helpful to lower the expectations and hold space for all the feelings you might have. 

  3. Ask yourself if there is anything that might be helpful to do / learn / take time for before you get there. Here is an example of what I mean by this: If I know that I am moving away or starting something new, I might decide that I want to spend time with friends that I may not see as often. One unhealthy coping strategy in moments like this is thinking that it will hurt less if you don’t have fun time with friends. I say this is an unhealthy-yet-common strategy because usually this leads you and your people into missing out on time together out of a false narrative that it might decrease the pain. 

  4. Take some time to think about what life transition is coming up and consider anything you might want to do to prepare. For example, if you are changing schools or having a baby, there may be a few things you want to do ahead of time to feel a little bit ready for what is coming. **I am going to give a huge disclaimer here: Many of us are hoping to feel 100 percent ready for an upcoming change. I don't think this is possible, truly. There isn’t such a thing as being 100 percent ready because there are so many unknowns that we just can’t predict. 

Moving on, what if you have found yourself currently in a life transition and you are trying to figure out how to cope with the life transition. 

Ways to cope with life transitions: 

  • Remind yourself that life transitions and in-between spaces are a normal aspect of life. They occur regularly, and some can be bigger or smaller life transitions. As we hold space to normalize the experience, this may help decrease some of the “should” or “suppose to” statements. Holding space and reminding yourself that feeling a mixture of feelings is normal can often help us cope with current life transitions. 

  • Journal. Keep a written record of thoughts and feelings. This could be helpful to identify patterns, themes, and make sense of what’s going on in your head and body. I love how research shows how cathartic the process of writing can be. 

  • Practice mindfulness. Focus on what you are sensing and feeling while trying to not interpret or judge how you are feeling. 

  • Pay attention to expectations. One big thing I notice is that, often we carry / society carries unrealistic expectations about life transitions. For example, how long it might take to be back to “normal” after having a baby, or how long it takes to feel at home after a move, or what we “should” do at each age and stage. Being aware of expectations can help us practice more compassion, decrease some of the pressure or “should” statements, etc.  

  • Therapy. I am going to expand on this more later in this article, but, in short, therapy can be a supportive place to talk about what you are experiencing. 

  • Practice a new hobby or old hobby. This could be helpful as a method of self-care during transition seasons.

  • Engage with your support system. The goal of a support system is that they are present for you in the ups and downs. They could be the ones who listen as you talk about what you are navigating, that you engage in a hobby with, etc. 

  • Care for your body. Through sleep, movement, what you are eating, spirituality, etc. 

  • Accept that life transitions are a part of life. As we can move toward acceptance, we may be less uncomfortable or disappointed with life transitions. Recognize that, often, we don’t stay in the “in-between” or the “new beginning” phase for as long as we think that we might. 

Part of naming we won’t stay in the “in-between” or the “new beginning” is rooted in hope. Our practice is called Steady Hope — I think hope is helpful to talk about when it comes to transitions. I hear so often that as we anticipate transitions or are in the midst of life transitions, it can be so easy to lose hope or feel hopeless. One of our aims is to help clients explore what it looks like to find sources of “steady hope” even when circumstances are uncertain.   

Benefits of therapy during life transitions:

  1. Have a guide to support you. One of the things our team of therapists loves doing at Steady Hope is to provide a steady presence that can help you process where you have been, where you are at, and the hope for where you are going. Within that, we will explore your thoughts, feelings, and any actionable steps. 

  2. A therapist can help normalize, validate, and potentially provide research-based information surrounding life transitions.

  3. A therapist can help you explore your expectations and discuss ways to manage expectations around life transitions. 

  4. A therapist that focuses on the whole person can help you discover ways to care for all parts of yourself and might be able to provide recommendations of resources to care for each part. 

If you are looking for life-transition counseling in person in Decatur/Atlanta, GA, or for virtual life-transition therapy, our team can accept clients virtually throughout the state of Georgia or Florida. Our team of trained therapists would love to support you! Reach out to our admin coordinator to learn more about services, rates, and our team of therapists. Or, you can complete the contact form on our website. 

If you reside outside of GA/FL or are looking for in-person therapy related to life transitions, here are a few recommendations for finding a therapist. 

How to find a therapist that specializes in life transitions outside of GA/FL: 

  1. Ask friends and family.

  2. Google and look for therapists in your area or state that specializes in life transitions.

  3. Look through online directories. 

If you are looking for a book recommendation related to life transitions, one that we often recommend is William Bridge’s book Transitions.

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