Managing Change Part 2: Redefining Ourselves

In chaos there is fertility.

Anais Nin, novelist

The first leg in our journey of transition was about “letting go” and just when we thought nothing could be tougher than saying goodbye, we find ourselves in still murkier waters. Welcome to the second leg of our transition process, “redefining ourselves” or what change management expert, William Bridges refers to as “the neutral zone…a nowhere between two somewheres.”

The neutral zone can be the most frustrating and confusing period for many people. It is a time of emotional chaos when our feelings seem to be all over the map. One day we may be hopeful, energized and motivated and the next, discouraged, lost and paralyzed by self-doubt and fear.  Little makes sense to us and our grasp on reality seems tenuous at best. No sooner have we let go of the familiar than we find ourselves adrift in ambiguity, the shoreline nowhere in sight.

Bewildered as we may feel, we are experiencing a necessary and normal process as we reorient and redefine ourselves for new beginnings. Depending on how profound the change in our life, our time spent in this transitional phase is unique to our individual circumstances and needs. For some of us it may mean months, for others years. My own personal experience taught me that once we stop fighting the current and go with the flow, out of chaos comes great growth.

As we ride life’s wild river into unchartered territory, we can take heart that there are ways for us to minimize our sense of disorientation and isolation.

  1. Take Inventory – It is always good practice to ask ourselves regularly, what gives our life purpose, meaning and authenticity? Engaging in self-inquiry and introspection cultivates greater self-awareness, which helps us re-assess what is and what is not relevant for us as we move forward.
  2. Nurture Creativity – Break free from old thinking and a certain mindset by seeking out new experiences and ways of doing things. Fostering our creativity makes us more receptive to new ideas, situations and exploring untapped possibilities.
  3. Practice self-care – It is during times of stress that we especially need to safeguard our well-being. This means practicing, as best we can, physical activity, good nutrition, proper sleep and most importantly, self-compassion – all essential in bolstering our physical, mental and emotional resilience.  .
  4. Create structure – When we are seemingly stuck in “a nowhere between two somewheres,” our sense of time and stability can feel out-of-whack. To offset the feeling that we are adrift or mindlessly spinning our wheels, we can create short-range goals or projects. This will provide us focus, tangible achievements and a sense that we are moving forward.

Are you ready to go with the flow?

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