Change – whether sought or unwanted – disrupts our routines, pulls us out of our comfort zone and forces us to navigate new territory. It is an event, a physical something that we can point to and say, "It is no longer here." Or, "It is here now when it wasn't before."
With every change, a transition follows and it’s the transition
that is more complex and challenging.
Transition brings disengagement, deidentification, disenchantment and disorientation. It’s in the season of transition that we experience debilitating emotions like fear, denial, anger, sadness, frustration, uncertainty and even a sense of loss.
Transition is the inner psychological process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the change or changes, they have made – or have had thrust upon them.
In his book Transitions (1980) William Bridges introduces us to four facets found in the transition process: disengagement, disidentification, disenchantment and disorientation.
Even now as I'm writing these words, I get little chill bumps as I recall how I felt in those times of change. Let me briefly share what each means.
Invariably a significant life transition leads us to disengage from an old situation; an aspect of our lives that we were familiar with and able to count on has come to an end. We are moving away from a known situation.
Ending our connection with the familiar impacts our sense of self. We lose self-definition and often our self-confidence will be shaky for a while until we are more certain about what is next.
Leaving the old evokes memories and experiences of disappointment and we move through a period where old dreams carry less meaning or fade away altogether. We become disenchanted, sometimes even nearing a felt sense of depression, which helps us with the process of letting go. Disenchantment represents the necessary death of the dream and prepares the way to dream anew.
When we leave the familiar and enter new territory, feeling disoriented is to be expected. All the customary signs are gone and the “I-know-where-I-am-going” feeling is replaced with a sense of being lost or feeling undecided about which direction to turn.
Bridges alert us to the meaningfulness of disorientation. This disorientation signals that we are taking the necessary steps toward emptiness. In many indigenous cultures this emptiness, while not enjoyable, is celebrated. Rites of passages are designed to lead the person toward the threshold of that emptiness. The emptiness represents a kind of death which is an essential step in process of becoming ready for the new.
Everything you will experience in change and transition serves the purpose of a (1) Ending (2) (Transitioning and (3) New Beginnings.
It's in the New Beginnings that we begin to experience engagement, identification, enchantment and orientation.
I am living proof that when you have successfully navigated change and transition you can, and will feel reoriented and renewed.
Understanding the transition journey is the ultimate blueprint for Leaving Almost.