I read a book recently called “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes” by William Bridges, PhD. One of the chapters was titled “What It Is Time to Let Go Of.” What an appropriate thought as we near the end of the year, don’t you think?
Bridges contends that there is a major difference between a change and a transition. Transitions start with letting go of what no longer fits or is no longer adequate to the life stage you are in.
Are you ready for the second part? It is internal.
You see, change represents the act of doing something. It’s situational. It might mean changing jobs, retiring, moving, leaving a relationship, suffering a loss, or sending the kids off to college. The transition is what happens next. And, it begins with letting go of something you have believed, or the person you have been, or the way you viewed the world in the past.
The internal things—good or bad—hold us to the past.
I can relate. When I went through my major life transition a few years ago, it came on the heels of a lot of major changes. I was finally able to hang my degree from Penn State on the wall. This may sound silly, but the hours I put in pursuing a degree while working full-time (in a fairly stressful, demanding career) and juggling family responsibilities was quite different once I graduated. I suddenly had free time and I wasn’t stressed out the minutes before sitting down to take an exam.
I retired from my career that had spanned 30 years. That was a huge change.
We survived being on mandatory evacuation as a wildfire raged to within 2 miles of our home…for 5 weeks! Lots of changes occurred over the 5 weeks, let me tell you.
We sold that home with no where to go and lived out of boxes for 10 months. That was definitely a change in lifestyle and routine! (I can’t tell you the number of times I opened a ton of boxes looking for a jar of Dijon mustard or package of noodles I knew was there somewhere.)
For the first time in our married life, we were suddenly without canine family members in the house after losing both our Bouviers within a 4 month period.
All those changes were situational. But, while they affected me externally (as part of my environment and lifestyle), they also affected me internally, on a deep, emotional level. And, all that changed me.
Until I dug deep into my mind to deal with the transition I was in, I just couldn’t move on.
I’ve always encouraged people to embrace change, and I’ve talked about a growth versus a fixed mindset. But this book took it to a whole new level…the ability to embrace the internal part of change, which is really the transition.
Why is that important?
Because if you don’t, you’re just reacting to the situation. You might cry. I did. Your health might deteriorate. Mine did. You might ignore your feelings and laugh it off. I couldn’t.
If you’re just dealing with the situation and not with what’s going on inside you…inside your mind…it can be devastating. Your thoughts become emotions and those emotions turn into actions—good or bad.
These thoughts may also become limiting beliefs that may haunt you for years, manifesting themselves into actions you really don’t want to take.
What do I mean by that?
Well, a limiting belief is something you believe to be true—about yourself, about others, or about the world—that holds you back in some way.
These keep you in your comfort zone, planted in fear and blind to opportunities in your path and the magic that lies just outside the cozy bubble you’re in. These beliefs keep you stuck, often fixated on the negative. They typically show up as fear of failure, worry about what others might think, feeling you are too old (or too young), or feeling you’re not good enough.
In a transition, all these limiting beliefs may be wrapped up with a bow labeled, “I just don’t have what it takes to try something new, so therefore I’m not even going to try.”
If you don’t even try, you’re robbing the world of your talent, your greatness and your light. And, now more than ever, the world needs you—and your light.
So, it’s important to identify and deal with those limiting or suppressed beliefs and the untruths of your past, because if you don’t, your ego and inner critic will continue to weave those stories in a way that will sabotage your dreams and your future.
Yep. Behind the scenes, your ego (which hangs out in your subconscious) is defining your reality, your world, and the way in which the conscious mind deals with present circumstances.
But your ego is not necessarily grounded in reality, and your stories may have been concocted by an “egocentric storyteller.” So if you’re getting the idea that what you believe may not be entirely true, you’re right on. Your untruths and limiting beliefs hang out in these stories.
The ego is your social mask, which thrives on approval and wants to be in control. It will fight with every available resource to keep you safe and comfortable because it operates on a fear of the unknown.
That feeling of being afraid is real, but the actual fear is concocted, because you can’t predict the future and you have no idea whether that scary thing is really going to happen.
Your egocentric storyteller is telling you that even though you’ve experienced change, everything is okay. But, that’s confusing because you don’t feel okay, you feel sad and a bit depressed. And, it’s taking a toll on your overall health.
You must understand what your limiting beliefs are so you can tell your ego, “No, everything is not okay. I will not stay stuck in the past, focused on the event that has changed my world. I will face my fears and focus on the future and the process—the transition—I’ll go through to get there.”
That’s when you’ll find the right mindset to get unstuck and move forward with intention.
As we near the end of the year, think about what situations have changed your life the past 12 months. What limiting beliefs have crept into your mind? What stories has your ego been telling you about your ability to manage the changes and transition to a new, exciting future?
Write them down. The new year is right around the corner. That’s the perfect time to let go of them. You won’t be needing them—and you certainly don’t want them holding you back—in your transition or your next chapter.
I talk a lot about mindset in my book “Your Next Chapter. Dream It. Design It. Live It.” You can download a couple of chapters for free on my website at christinestallard.com.