What comes to mind when you hear the word "transition"?
I have been thinking about the word “transition” for several weeks. I decided to conduct a brief survey with several peers and they provided thought-provoking responses to this question. Here are a few responses: “exhilaration”, “excitement”, “discomfort”, “fear”, “duck and cover” “exhaustion”, “changes”, and “a period of unrest or instability between two well defined points.”
Everyone at some defining point in their journey will experience significant life transitions, whether it will be a job change, graduation from high school, the start of a new season of education, perhaps a change in church community, or marital status. Each life transition can bring a “period of unrest or instability”. For some individuals, the process of change can trigger anxiety, distress, or depression.
According to Bussolari and Goodell (2009), when individuals experience life transitions, feelings of discomfort, tension, ambivalence, and sadness tend to be common themes. The cycles of emotional upheaval can be difficult to navigate.
However, in the midst of these transitions, individuals respond and adapt in different ways. Although some may view certain life transitions as a negative experience, the unpredictability and the chaos can be an opportunity for emotional, spiritual, and interpersonal growth. The good news for those in transition is that adaptation to change is possible.
Previous research suggests that during adversity of loss or transition, resiliency and strength are prominent among individuals in the midst of change. No one desires to live life in a chronic state of chaos, however, understanding and accepting can be helpful for the navigation of difficulty transitions (Harvey, Walker, Mason, & Pauwels, 2001).
So, how should individuals navigate life transitions? Here are a few practical steps:
1. Change brings feelings of instability: When we experience feelings of chaos, anxiety, or anticipation, a sense of ambivalence is normal.
2. Allow time for adjustment to transition.
3. Seek out opportunities for growth.
4. Build social support (i.e. family, church, or small group).
5. Seek professional help. Check your local community for professional counselors.
When thinking of the word "transition", there are a few hopeful words that surfaced from the survey.
“opportunity”, “adjustment”, “something new”
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”. Isaiah 43:19
Bio: Dr. Valencia Wiggins holds a Ph.D., L.P.C., and is an Assistant Professor at Moody Theological Seminary for the Master’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program in Chicago, IL. She is a clinical psychologist, and Licensed Professional Counselor. Dr. Wiggins enjoys helping individuals reach their emotional health potential. In addition, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, and seeking out new adventures in life.
Bussolari, C. J., & Goodell, J.A. (2009). Chaos theory as a model for life transitions counseling: Nonlinear dynamics and lifes changes. Journal of Counseling & Development, 87(1), 98-107.
Harvey, J. H., Walker, S., Mason, K., & Pauwels, B. (2001). The cognitive assimilation of loss events. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press