Life cycle transitions which are out of our control, especially ones which occur violently (e.g., hurricanes), not only test our ability to adapt, they may leave us disoriented and struggling to cope. Life changes force us to leave behind what is familiar and adjust to new ways of living, even if we feel unprepared. Our transitions usually involve some type of loss, and that’s certainly true for hurricane survivors. Losses, regardless of the type, leave us feeling anxious and vulnerable. Plus, we don’t know what the future holds, and many of us are uncomfortable with uncertainty.
Even people who handle transitions successfully experience negative feelings like confusion, anger, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, and fear. But then the overcomers begin to accept the change, knowing if they hang on, it keeps them focused on the past. As they do this, they focus on what they can control now. They become aware of possibilities and optimistic about options they didn’t previously have. And they identify a strategic plan for where they want to go, revising it as necessary.
Overcomers develop coping strategies to make the most of things. They take good care of themselves physically. They think positively and accept help from others. They acknowledge their feelings and express them appropriately, avoiding acts of aggression. By doing so, they reframe their negative feelings.
Transitions have a way of bringing into focus what’s important in life. They bring us to a crossroad where we get to explore where we want our lives to go next. Overcomers honor their inner voices and intuition. They think about what they would do if they weren’t afraid. They take responsibility for their actions and take advantage of the fork in the road.
Finally, overcomers accept that change is a normal part of life and that they may never completely understand what has happened to them. Rather than dwell on their losses—how unfair it was; how poorly the disaster was handled, etc.—they get over it, looking forward with hope instead of backward with resentment.
Remember, most successful people have experienced major setbacks; but they’ve turned them around by picking themselves up, learning from the experience, and trying again. When bad things happen to us, we can grow stronger and more resilient in the process of overcoming our circumstances.
Remember, our perception of the change is in our control.
Stockton is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and owner of Inner Peace Coaching & Counseling, located at 4030 Mount Carmel Tobasco Road in Cincinnati. For more information, please call 513.201.5949 or visit www.lindastockton.com.