Life transitions have three different phases—ending phase, middle phase and new beginning phase. I cover endings in my previous blogs 3 Types of Life Transitions and 5 Stages of Endings and Why They Are Painful. In this blog, I’m going to talk about the middle phase, also known as the neutral zone.
While in the endings phase, you long for your old self, in the neutral zone, you have accepted that it’s time to move on. You’re just not quite sure how.
The middle phase is characterised by letting go of an old role and stepping into a new one. When you take on the role of a parent, teacher or partner, you identify with that role. The role defines your purpose. When that role comes to end, you question who you are.
"What matters is not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment." - Victor Frankle
Building a new identity
You may now be separated, divorced, or widowed. So you’re in the process of developing a new part of yourself. You’re adjusting to a new life.
Any transition requires time to adjust. An example of this is leaving your country of origin to live in another country. When you arrive, you may take on the role of “foreigner”. But as time goes on and you adapt to your new surroundings, you’ll find new reference points, make friends, and learn a language. You become someone else. This is the process of rebuilding.
“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.” Hermann Hesse
Helping yourself through the Middle Phase
Reinventing yourself is a long journey, but it can also be an enjoyable one. You may have to adapt to new skills, make new friends and reach out to support groups or professional support.
Being rigid prolongs the time needed for growth. And you’re more likely to feel angry, sad and depressed. The process is easier when you allow yourself to be flexible, embrace new things and do some steps out of your comfort zone.
Here are some ways to help yourself through the Middle Phase;
Be kindd to yourself — pay attention to the words you use when you’re talking about yourself.
Practice mindfulness—meditate or listen to your breath. Stop and feel how you’re feeling.
Walk in nature—nature is restorative and healing.
Move—dancing or yoga classes can be a way to socialise too.
Try something new—explore the things you were interested in doing but never tried.
Reconsider the activities you loved in the past and had to give up.
Make an effort to socialise and make new connections—this is a good distraction and can lead to ongoing support.
There are endless possibilities, it mostly depends on your personal inclinations and what you are willing to try. This is a time for creativity and experimentation. Listen to yourself and notice what feels good. Embrace the new and do what’s right for you.
"Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Brené Brown
As always, I’m here if you need guidance and support through your life transitions.