Christian Reifsteck, Standing Stones Healing Co.
In my How to Survive Life Changes article, I shared my three most important tips for surviving your life changes and transitions. In this follow up article, I give you three more tips with a focus on how to thrive, rather than merely survive your life change, no matter what life change you’re experiencing. At the end of the article, I also include a link to a sample of my Distant Reiki Healing Ceremony to help you through your life changes to transitions in preparation for the newness that awaits.
1. Draw on your previous life change experiences.
As I mentioned in How to Survive Life Changes, change is a normal part of life, so no matter what life change you are experiencing, remember that you have already had numerous life change experiences. For instance, if you are a senior graduating from college, the chances are pretty good that you've already graduated from high school and have had that experience of stepping into the unknown and wondering what comes next.
During your current or next life change, I encourage you to remember and draw upon the strengths from your previous life experiences and to look to the evidence that shows that you have already made it through life changes and transitions. Give yourself credit for having overcome and moved through those experiences. Look back on your previous experiences and allow them to show you proof that you've done something like this before and you absolutely can do it again. Focus on your past strengths, the positives that resulted from the experiences, and how they have shaped you, how you have grown from them, and who you are now because of them.
2. Take control of your life changes.
When our life changes, our habits change. Our habits are really what comprise our days and structure and order our lives, so when you have a life change, even a small one, it's going to throw off your habits. For instance, if your child is entering a new school with a different start time, that change will effect your whole morning and the routine you currently have in place, which means it can effect the habit of when you get up, the habit of what you eat, the habit of how your family interacts while getting ready, and the habit of what time you get out the door. It can even effect the habits of the night before. And this is just a small life change. Larger life changes have even greater impacts on our habits.
One of the tricks to managing life change is to recognize that your habits are going to change and to take control and steer them in the ways that that you want them to go. For example, when you end a relationship, you are no longer seeing and spending time with that person, so all of the habits you had tied to that person, like spending specific times together, going to certain restaurants, watching Netflix on the couch, are gone. Whether you want them or not, these habits are no longer a part of your life and you now have additional time that was previously spent with your partner.
Rather than just allowing the time to be absorbed in whatever way, shape, or form that it will be absorbed, it's important to claim that time with the purposeful things you want to do with that time. For instance, after an unhealthy relationship, we may decide we really want to adopt some healthy habits. This was my personal approach after an unhealthy relationship, and I made a commitment to improving all of my relationships.
Focus your attention with intention on who you want to be during your life change and who you want to be after it. Consider the person you want to transition into, the habits you want to adopt, and the steps you will take.
If you want to be healthier, ask yourself what that looks and feels like to you and write those down. Once you determine the kind of person you want to be and the way you want to feel, you can then get specific about the ways you want to fill your time and those new habits you want to adopt that align with your new vision of yourself. You may decide that you’re going to do ten jumping jacks every morning as soon as you get out of bed (Well, maybe go to the bathroom first.). Your ten jumping jacks routine is a healthy habit and a small change that you can incorporate into your life. Knowing that when your life changes, your habits change means that you can adopt some directed habits that you want to have in your life.
I do want to offer one caveat with incorporating new habits into your life during life changes, and that’s not to try to make too many changes in your habits all at once. You will experience a change of habits during a life change whether you want to or not, so I’m advocating guiding those changes and making habit changes with intention: create the changes, rather than allowing them to happen to you. However, it’s important not to cram every new free minute with new habits. Not only will you feel overwhelmed, potentially increase any feelings of anxiety, and have a harder time sticking to all of your new changes, but you may also be using it as a coping mechanism to avoid feeling the uncomfortable feelings associated with life changes. It’s important to feel all of your feelings, not avoid them, and not judge them or yourself for having them.
3. Focus on what you’re gaining rather than on what you’re losing.
During any life change, there are things we lose and things we gain. Rather than focusing on what you are losing, I encourage you to focus on what you’re gaining. If you’ve just ended a relationship, you can bemoan losing someone to cuddle with on the couch while you watch Netflix or you can relish having Friday nights free to finally read that good book you’ve been wanting to get to. If you’ve recently lost a job, perhaps you now have more time to spend with your children.
Life changes themselves are neutral. It’s the ways in which we think about them that make them good or bad. It's the feelings and emotions we assign to the change and put into them that determine whether they are positive or negative.
I won’t argue that the death of a loved one is very challenging and sad and difficult, and I’m sorry for your loss if you’ve recently lost a loved one. The death of loved ones is often the most challenging kind of life change we will ever experience. But perhaps your loved one suffered with an illness or you were caring for them or putting a lot of your mental or emotional energy into care and concern for them. You can now breathe a sigh of relief that they are no longer suffering, that the emotional and mental energy you put into care and concern for them can now be freed up for other things, and that you can now care for yourself. These are all positives within the negative experience. While these are challenging and difficult times, we can attempt to see the positives in them.
Gratitude is the quickest way to focus on the positive. I am a huge proponent of gratitude and believe it is the foundation to deepening our spirituality. For three ways to deepen your gratitude now, please see my article Three Concrete Ways to Begin Your Gratitude Practice Now. Focusing on gratitude during your life change will allow you to put the emphasis on what you’re gaining rather than on what you’re losing and help you to thrive during your life change.
This practice does not serve to diminish our grief or negative feelings, nor is it meant to ignore them. As I’ve mentioned, I encourage you to acknowledge and feel all of your feelings. During such times, the negatives can seem so much more overwhelming than the positives, but, as we know from previous life changes, these negative feelings will decrease over time. We can choose to acknowledge that there are positives within the negative, even if we can’t yet recognize them.
4. Learn and grow from your life changes.
Life changes are experiences that we can grow and learn from. Whatever life changes you have experienced, they are growth points along your life journey. I encourage you to reflect on what your previous life changes have taught you, how you grew from them, and who you became afterward.
By considering how we’ve learned and grown from previous life changes, we can be better prepared to consider the larger picture of any life changes we are or will experience. We will also be better prepared to ask ourselves what we want to get out of life change experiences and how we want to learn and grow. Like directing our habits, this allows us to direct the ways we learn and grow from a life change. Ask yourself how you want to change and develop not only your habits, but also the larger ways you want to grow and learn from your life change experience as a human being.
Many years ago, I was in an abusive relationship, and one of the ways I learned and grew from that experience was to learn compassion for what people in abusive relationships might experience. Although leaving that relationship was a challenge, it was a wonderful gift to have increased compassion and understanding for others having a similar experience. I now know that people in abusive relationships need love and support and not judgment.
At the time, learning that lesson wasn’t something that I was consciously focusing on, and I needed to get out of crisis mode and have time to reflect on the experience to realize the gifts within it. Recognizing how we learn and grow from a life change often comes later, but if we can acknowledge during a life change that we’re going to learn larger things from it and will create greater meaning from it, then we can be more purposeful and intentional during our life change. In this way, we will be bringing greater awareness to our experiences and who we want to be during them, creating a greater connection to them, and even deriving more meaning from them. Whether you are currently experiencing a life change right now or not, you are going to experience more life changes, and reflecting in these ways will allow you to not only survive them, but to also thrive during them.
Like you, I’ve been through numerous life changes of all kinds, and I’ve had the great honor of encouraging hundreds of people through their life changes. These are a few ways I recommend to help you thrive during your life change. Many of these tips are contained in my Weathering Life Changes video on the Standing Stones Healing YouTube channel. I also welcome you to check out my free sample Distant Reiki Healing Ceremony to support you with healing, coaching, and encouragement to make most of your life changes, challenges, and transitions with purpose, intention, and readiness for the newness that awaits. Thank you, and best wishes for your journey.