In my last few posts, I’ve been writing about transition – what it is, what’s hard about it and what’s wonderful about it.
When I wrote that first post about transition a few weeks ago, I was steeped in the hard side of transition – the fog, confusion, the loss of an old self. Now, much of the time, I’m swimming in what is rich and exciting about transition – new ideas, new possibilities, the greater vividness and intensity of life that comes with phases of change.
One of the things that made difference – that made the exciting parts come to the fore, and the harder parts fade to the background, was taking care of myself in the little ways. I’ve been spending so much more time with people I love, and taking the time to get out and do my work in beautiful cafes – doing the little things that nurture me.
The second thing that has made a big difference happened right here. Writing about how I was feeling really helped. When I sat down to write that first post about transition, I didn’t know what it would be about. I wasn’t even yet using the phrase “I’m going through a transition.” I just knew I was feeling disoriented and sort of sad.
It was in the writing process that that idea – oh, transition – arose. It was in the writing process that truths about what I was experiencing came to the fore. Then I had some clarity, some concepts, to frame and understand my experience with. That helped.
Then remarkably, just a few days after writing, I shifted out of the state I had written about, and into the next phase of my transition. What had been stuck for a while finally moved.
Have you ever had the experience of writing something down, or speaking it aloud to someone else, and then feeling like as a result, it somehow lost its aliveness? Maybe you told a friend about a precious experience and then suddenly felt like it lost its magic. Or you told someone about a new idea you were feeling super passionate about, only to find afterward you felt inexplicably less passionate.
This is the negative side of how language can de-activate ideas and feelings, or cause them to expire. But there is a positive side too. As we find words for something, that something is changed by being named. It is moved from something formless and unprocessed in us to something processed, drawn out of the ether into form. It then takes a new shape in us, an evolved form, or simply moves onward, allowing space for the next energies to arise within us. From our perspective, this feels like we move through the thing, like what was “up” for us before just isn’t anymore, like we’re on to the next question, feeling, struggle, possibility.
It’s tricky, because we can also get in our heads with language. When we’re over-thinking, obscuring the truth, getting lost in intricate and irrelevant rationalizations or arguments, language is one of the star characters of the show. But that’s when we use language to try to declare our decisions, say what’s right, say what’s wrong, or define the future. When we use language simply to give words to our present moment experience, we tap its power as an accelerant of movement, a way of out of stuckness. It will never allow us to rush through or avoid what we need to experience, but it will us moving forward.
That’s not the only power of language during times of transition. For me, naming my experience, putting concepts and words to it, also gave my mind and ego enough of a foothold that I then could allow transition to happen in a different way. And it gave me a way to validate and connect with others around my own experience, which in itself was healing.
Sometimes we forget that language itself is a kind of gift for us human beings, a blessing, here to help us crystallize, draw forth, pieces of reality. It is hear to help us liberate what is inside of us, move it outward, and then let it go.
We can always remind ourselves about the gift of language, and ask ourselves: Am I fully using the gift of language – whether spoken or written – to help me move through your experience?
I think I’d make this one of my own top guidelines for transition: Talk about it. Write about it. Give it words.
When you sit down to write about it or talk about it you might feel like you don’t have any words, like you don’t understand a thing about what’s going on. That’s okay. Say that. And then see what words come next. The process is what brings clarity.
I’ve been loving thinking and writing about transition so much that I’m hosting a free call on Moving Through Transitions with Grace, this Wednesday. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite ideas and tools for times of transition. If you did not get to sign up last week, you can sign up to attend live or get the recording HERE.