It's been a few months since I last wrote on this blog. Since the last post, I have ended a job, moved to a new state, moved in with my partner, and started a private practice. So much has happened and I feel almost like a different person from the one who last wrote in June. Through this time of transitions, I am reminded that transitions are hard. They are hard because they are full of instability and the unknown. They require so much physical, mental, and emotional energy to get through. I found myself feeling excited, fearful, anxious, on-edge, sad, overwhelmed, rejuvenated, creative, optimistic, and empowered. So many emotions at once! Here are the three practices that have kept me grounded in the past few months:
"There are times when the integrity of our foundation becomes compromised and we have to find new footing."
- Mark Nepo
Practice Self Compassion
As someone who has perfectionism tendencies and is hard on myself (as I mentioned in the previous post), I have found practicing self-compassion to be the key to a better relationship with myself. When I feel anxious about the future or obsess over details, I try to take a moment and tell myself, "It makes sense that I am anxious/stressed/overwhelmed/need control. Many people in my situation feel this way. I am still a worthy/lovable/competent person. I have been through challenging things before. I have the strengths and resources to make it through." In my compassionate statement to myself, I try to acknowledge that my challenges are shared by many others. I am not alone in my struggle or suffering and I am perfectly normal in my flaws and mistakes. The practice of self-compassion is shown to significantly improve our emotional wellbeing. Here is an excellent article written by Dr. Kristen Neff, a leading researcher on self-compassion, on the myths of self-compassion and the research supporting the effectiveness of the practice. Check out her very helpful website for more information and resources on self-compassion.
Another tendency of mine is to work as fast as I can to accomplish a lot. This tendency in and of itself is not a bad thing. In fact, it has helped me to, well, accomplish a lot. However, the cost of this pace of working is burnout. During the recent transitions, I found myself feeling very impatient with all the things that I needed to do in order get settled, find a routine, and start my business. There were a few days when I pushed myself and my partner way too hard and the result was exhaustion, grumpiness, and conflicts. In contrast, when I have been intentional about slowing down, enjoying what each moment has to bring, and trusting the process, I have found more joy and energy. For example, when I take time to meditate in the morning, I find that I have more brain space the rest of the day to get things done and feel at peace. Here is a great article on the benefits of slowing down, which surprisingly, includes being more productive.
Reach Out and Connect
Transitions can be a lonely experience. I left a strong community of friends and mentors behind when I moved. Although I am loving the new city and excited to make new connections, reaching out to strangers can be daunting and scary for an introvert like me. However, I know that the benefits of connections and relationships outweigh the costs. Talking with my friends and about my struggles have been normalizing and validating. I have been so touched by the openness and generosity of strangers who have been willing to provide guidance and encouragement when I took the risk to ask for help. I found it comforting to hear about other people's struggles with transitions. Recently, I read Dr. Christy Barongan's blog post on transitions and breathed a sigh of relief that I am not alone in feeling like a tantruming child during the most stressful part of the move.
How do you manage and thrive during transitions? Share with me in the comment section below.
Online Counseling in Seattle, WA
Transitioning into a new phase of life can feel daunting. Our emotions can reach a breaking point, and it can be hard to find stable ground. Our clinicians at Thrive for the People offer evidence-based treatment which will allow you to foster self-compassion and growth during this uncertain time. Contact us to learn more, or schedule a 15-minute phone consultation today.