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Life Transitions and Coping
“Whenever I notice something about myself I don’t like, or whenever something goes wrong in my life, I silently repeat the following phrases: This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment. May I give myself the compassion I need.” —Kristin Neff
Change is inevitable. Especially when it comes to life transitions, whether it’s heading off to college, changing jobs, moving, having to be a caregiver for someone unexpectedly, entering retirement, blending families, or redefining yourself while in recovery from an eating disorder or addiction. The steps to navigate a major change begin by acknowledging any loss you’re experiencing and working toward letting go of the past. Next, you’ll need to face the fear of the unknown and begin making meaning of your new reality as you start out on a new beginning
Sometimes a major life transition can exceed your capacity to cope. That makes sense, because most of us find comfort in what’s familiar. We also tend to rely on established habits to get us through each day. Change can be very hard because it requires us to take on new responsibilities, face uncertainty, create new routines, or operate outside of our comfort zone. We may feel lost, overwhelmed, afraid, or worried. We may also find our heart racing, butterflies in our stomach, or our energy depleted.
But when you stay curious and trade self-criticism for support and self-compassion, a transition can turn into a bridge.
That is, as frightening as change may be, it also has great potential for personal growth, knowledge building, and creativity. With effective coping mechanisms, you can learn ways to manage big life events in a flexible, healthy manner. Some of the most common and effective coping strategies include: asking for support, problem solving, stress reduction, humor, rituals, creativity, and physical activity.
The therapeutic approach to coping with life transitions will be tailored to you. Here are some therapeutic tools we may use to get you feeling empowered, confident, and balanced again:
- Compassion-focused therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Strength-based, positive psychology
- Life-coaching strategies
- Cultivating optimism
- Values-based therapy
- Intentional living practices
- Complicated-grief therapy
There’s no denying that change is coming your way or is already unfolding in your life. Instead of trying to resist it, avoid it, or control it, let’s work together on using your strengths and building better coping skills to turn this difficult moment into a proud milestone and an opportunity for growth.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” —Maya Angelou
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