Life is always changing. This is the only constant we can be sure of. And while we are uncomfortable with changes, even when we feel a sense of stagnation, things around us still change. We constantly grow and change. This is the beauty of life; it only takes time to learn to appreciate it.
Most changes have little impact on how we feel about ourselves, like starting yoga classes, making new friends, or challenging ourselves to learn a new language.
Other changes are more impactful. They turn our lives upside down and change the person we are forever, leading to a transition period.
These, called life transitions, impact our self-perception and the perception of our environment.
What’s the difference between change and life transition?
Changes are mainly minor events; they can be important, but change does not require great adjustment skills nor impacts how you perceive yourself.
Life transitions can be planned or imposed on you. A life transition involves a profound shift within yourself, leading to an internal transformational process. It impacts how you feel, think, act in your environment, and, consequently, your self-perception. There are different types of transitions; below, we explore the most common.
CHANGE may lead to a life transition,
but TRANSITION always leads to CHANGE.
Four Different Types of Life Transitions
Understanding transitions can illuminate the path forward, offering insights into growth, adaptation, and the ever-evolving nature of our existence.
1. Developmental Transitions
Developmental transitions are the changes you experience as part of growing and aging, such as the transitions from childhood to adolescence or adolescence to adulthood and adulthood to mature age. While there is no exact age for any of the above transitions, the resistance and inability to cope with the changes lead developmental transitions to profound identity crises. Embracing the physical and fostering flexibility in self-perception and emotional and social transformation resulting from the change allow one to overcome the transition.
2. Planned transition
Transitions like moving in with your partner or having a child can sound like a positive change, but sometimes the change can be too much. Letting go of the previous lifestyle and difficulties adapting to the new role can overwhelm even planned changes. For example, feelings of isolation after becoming a parent or moving to a new city may require a reassessment of expectations.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over.
But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm,
you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
3. Transitions initiated by external events
Changes through external events may result in profound life transitions when they impact lifestyle, life views and expectations, values and beliefs. After such events, there are difficulties in reconnecting to the self. These transitions can be extremely painful as the loss of identity will take through a whole grief process. It will take time, self-care and patience to recover.
As the word “awakening” suggests, it involves profound spiritual crises. These transitions of perception and awareness of one essence involve a profound change in one's inner belief system where individuals often embark on a journey of self-discovery that goes beyond the conventional boundaries of their previous understanding.
“Follow the urge to transition from one phase of your life to the next.
Whether this is inside or outside work, it’s time for intentional transformation to take place.”
Robin S. Baker
Embracing Transitions: Allow Your Life to Change.
Transitions are not merely painful but also opportunities to learn, grow, and improve.
How you cope depends on your:
Flexibility towards the transition
Openness to change
Mental and physical health
Support systems in place
Learn to take good care of yourself. When unpleasant feelings rule your day for too long, it’s time to reach out to someone you trust. If you don't have someone to talk to, contact a helpline, a support group, or a professional. Your GP or a counsellor can make a difference in your wellbeing.