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.
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As always I enjoyed your intimate post. I am becoming aware of my own need to record insights in a written journal; speaking them aloud may feel more natural, but there is an ongoing process involved in which various connections or understandings don’t yet cohere, and even the most sympathetic listeners may intervene with premature judgments, comments, and advice.
When doing my current small collages, I also find it is valuable to compose or unite images as they “accidentally” or spontaneously strike me–even if this means having 20 unfinished works for every completed one! So many beautiful and potentially meaningful energies are otherwise lost.
From my personal experience (here I intervene, so read this paragraph with caution, lol), I would gently suggest that the power of words not be overestimated, great as it may be. Conscious development and progress have to be integrated at deep, emotional, almost instinctive levels. In her lovely book, “Bird by Bird: Thoughts on the Writing Life,” Anne Lamott counsels us to sit with our perceptions, our observations, as we record them, for it can be too easy–socially and culturally–to wrap them up, inadvertently but so neatly, in a readymade package of homily that robs them of their uniqueness and freshness–their motive power,their dragon-fire, teeth, even!
Love as always, thank you for being a companion on the journey, Tara,
and may God bless us all with grace, slowly or swiftly!
Tara that was beautiful I agree that the process of giving our situation words, naming it as you said, has a power to help us process. I actually experienced this twice this morning. Once as I commented on a Facebook group I belong to about whether or not as a parent I would take away my children’s autism if I could. I found while explaining my answer (a confident no) I actually was processing it and explaining it to myself. And again, when I was commenting on your earlier post about transitions, writing out a comment continued my transitional process, helped me flesh out my own ideas about the stage I’m in. I have actually forgotten how therapeutic I find the writing process, and I know I must devote more time to it now. Than you for your continued wisdom, even when I’m sure you don’t feel wise. 🙂
I love the depth you are taking us to in exploring this topic. It connected with something I heard on Super Soul Sunday today as the speaker was telling us how important it is to experience all of our transitions, to feel them and not push them away. Thanks.
I was perplexed a little about the neutral zone so I pondered it last night a got some clarity. This morning I saw this quote and liked it. I thought you might as well. “Honor the space between no longer and not yet.” Nancy Levin
It spoke so much to me about the neutral zone. Thanks!
As always, you are so very much on the mark with something near and dear to my heart, and relevant to my life. As a woman, and as a mom, the one constant in my life has been transitions. I agree with you, wholeheartedly, that writing them down, in whatever state of the transition you are in, is the best, and most self-loving thing we can do. Keep writing. Keep sharing. We are all better for it.
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