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
1. 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.
2. Slow Down. 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.
3. 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.
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