Monday, June 2, 2014



Life twists and turns in directions one might never imagine, and transitions can be emotionally charged even if the new path is one you choose.  We all expect to have lots of feelings during the "negative" transitions, like a break up, death of a loved one or pet, or loss of a job.  But the emotions that often come with more "positive" transitions can blindside us.  When supposedly happy changes evoke sadness, fear, anxiety, nostalgia, or even anger, you aren't crazy.  All change comes with some mix of emotions.

"He finally asked me!  I'm getting married!  Yea!  Whoa, I'm getting married.....?  I'm scared."

"We're moving from our cramped apartment to our dream house!  Why am I feeling sad?"

"I got a promotion and a raise.  Why do I feel guilty instead of elated?"

"The windfall I've waited 40 years for finally happened.  Why don't I feel happier?  Why don't I feel anything?"

It's important to honor the whole range of feelings that go with life transitions.  Usually the more negative feelings about "happy" events don't stick for long if you don't try to brush them away or stifle them.  Acknowledge them, honor them, have a good cry.   It's okay.  It's actually more normal than totally positive feelings about life transitions.  Humans are complicated beings with messy emotions.  Thank goodness.  It's what makes us interesting and unique.

Letting yourself feel the whole range of feelings, regardless of how "illogical" is important.  It helps them begin to dissolve, making room for your satisfaction and gladness.

A life transition can evoke all manner of historical feelings for us, even those we are sure we "worked through" and put to rest long ago.  Fear of the unknown can be powerful, compared to the comfort of the known.  Something happy can evoke the opposite feeling alongside the happy one.  Take the examples above.  The happiness of getting engaged can bring up fear of losing the one you love, or fear of being trapped.  Moving can evoke nostalgia for the life or place you are leaving behind, even while loving the place you are going.  You may be moving into a new place and new life, but losing the old familiar one.   Promotions can bring up fear of failure, or embarrassment about being promoted above your peers.  Winning the lottery, settling a lawsuit, getting an inheritance can evoke all kinds of feelings associated with childhood, self esteem, and even challenge your world view. (Is it fair that I'm so lucky, when people are starving in the third world?)  Money carries all manner of feeling with it.  We each have a lifetime of assumptions, and attach all kinds of significance to money or the lack of it.

Embrace all your feelings about the transition.  Try not to let the negative ones hold you back from what you know is a positive move forward.   Taking a well thought through step forward, even if it seems into the unknown, keeps life interesting.

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