What My Mother Taught Me About Managing Transitions

We experience lots of transitions throughout our life. From one relationship to another. From Individual contributor to manager of others. One job to another. Shifting to a new place. From student to employment. From one career line to another. Experiencing the death of a close one. From having to not having. I am currently transitioning from working for others to working for myself. Transitions are never ending. Yet, what makes some transitions easier than others? What are the key building blocks of managing transitions well?

Transitioning is Role Modeled 

At the age of 9, my condition was tough, diagnosed with encephalomyelitis (inflammation in the brain and spinal cord). At the time, we lived on Stradbroke Island (off the coast of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia). A long way from specialist care. My mother rushed me to the mainland where I spent over 2 weeks in hospital. 

After hospitalisation, we stayed in the familiar surroundings of the home of my aunty for many weeks. This was to enable me to build up my strength. Day by day they engaged me in all types of activities, art, puzzles, play, to get me back to my full function. When we returned to our Island, I only had the energy to attend school for half a day. Rather than allow me to sit at home and rest for the second half, Mum would take me out on new adventures. Swimming, walking, picking flowers, fishing, and rough road driving. This seems a little counter intuitive. You see, my Mother was an expert in managing transitions. 

The Wellness Architect

In this case from sickness to health and well being. She too had a life threatening condition when she was 10 years of age. She spent 6 weeks in an isolation ward with polio and no contact from her parents. Imagine being six weeks in an isolation ward and only able to see your parents through a glass window, once a day. 

Mum knows what resilience is all about. She knew I would not get energy from sitting at home. The energy came from the variety of experiences she created for me. Before I knew it I was back to my old self and back to a full day at school with little memory of my illness. Mum was the architect of my wellness. She was thoughtful and purposeful in her approach. This was not the only time she did this for me. She did it again when I was in my early twenties with a bad dose of Glandular Fever. Through intense care and love she had me back at work in 3 weeks. Fighting fit.

Pic Credit : Stephen Berkeley

Normalising Transitions

What is it that helps us manage these transitions? What makes some manage them better than others? I was lucky to have a role model who modeled behaviours that held me in good stead, as I navigated the journey of life. She helped normalise transitions.

What I learnt from my Mothers actions about transitioning is:

1.Keep things moving

Doing nothing reinforces a feeling of stuckness. Small steps create a sense of movement. That you are going somewhere.

2.You can’t do it on your own, take help

Your friend circle will have different “transition” experiences that you can draw upon.

3. Be playful

Research has demonstrated that “creativity encourages positive emotions that can unlock our inner resources for dealing with stress and uncertainty”. And that “positive emotions broaden our mindset by encouraging us to try new things or look at situations from a different perspective. In turn, these positive emotions and experiences build on one another in a feedback loop that drives greater contentment and, of course, resilience.”

4. Learn from the past

This will not be your first transition. Think about other times in your life when you have transitioned. What got you through? What pulled you through? How can you use that now?

5. You will grow

With a little bit of reflection there is always something to learn from transitions. They help make us aware of our inner resources.

Transitions will always be there in our life. Transitions are a right of passage. There are many sources of inspiration that we can draw upon to help us manage these segways in our life. And come out the other side, having thrived, not just survived.

Oh, and by the way, Happy 80th Birthday Mum. Thank you for living your life so graciously and giving great care to me and others.

Picture Credit: Pexels from Pixabay

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