SK Doctoroff Counseling and Therapy in Southfield Michigan

Life’s Transitions

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Posted by Stacy Doctoroff on 9/8/2014


Transitions happen in our lives often and sometimes without advance warning. Some of these are involuntary (ie. middle school to high school, puberty, adulthood, menopause, loss of a loved one), others are voluntary (ie. changing friend groups, changing jobs, getting married, having children, retirement) and some are thrust upon us (death, end of a relationship, loss of a job). The reality is that transitions may create different emotions from within us.  

 According to How To Cope With Transition and Change by Dr. Cheryl MacDonald, RN, Psy’D (August 1, 2011, Health Psychology), one of the emotions that transitions bring to the surface is fear which then may turn into anxiety.  When fear surfaces and before anxiety sets in, one has a chance to change the way they think about the transition. As Dr. MacDonald mentions, if one can understand that mistakes are made in their lives and that learning from mistakes can help them move forward, they may have an easier time adapting to transitions. One’s ability to understand and accept their mistakes may lower their anxiety and allow them to create new positive experiences.

How we feel about ourselves also plays a role in how we handle transitions. A person that has a lower sense of self may experience a more negative reaction to the transition while a person with a higher sense of self may be able to look at the transition as something that could lead to fun and new experiences – – being positive.  This is often evident in our children when they move to a new school or in an adult moving to a new job or new relationship.

It is helpful as one is living life to maintain self-talk asking themselves questions about how they would feel if they decided to make a change or if a change happens. This type of thinking helps with not having a complete rupture with one’s sense of self during transition periods. We can not always be 100% prepared for the unknown but we can walk ourselves through the unknown when trying to keep the positive aspects of change in perspective.

Michael F. Kay in Life (and Money) Transitions (May 29, 2014, Psychology Today) writes “Like in nature, root systems work behind the scenes, invisibly. And what you can’t see sometimes gets in your way”.  This shows that our mindset can affect how we handle these transitions. When one recognizes that they can let go of their past and begin thinking in a positive manner, transitions may not be as difficult.

If you know a transition is coming, it is often good to discuss it ahead of time to help be prepared.  As always, I am here for these short term changes and would love to set time aside to assist you in turning a potential negative into a complete positive.  Or, if you have experienced or are experiencing an involuntary transition and need to talk it through, call me.


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