We humans are wired to appreciate and crave intimacy. The intimacy we experience when we transition from one job or career to another, or from one place of residence to someplace far away, or from marriage to the single life is no different.
Many make the mistake in thinking that intimacy is limited to close relationships or to sexual/erotic encounters. It’s much more. Intimacy is an experience of being fulfilled deep in the soul. Some people get really intimate with food (my father’s ravioli were transcendent!), nature, art, music, work, shopping, and much more.
Intimacy awakens the heart and adds something intangible to our lives. True intimacy is never coercive; it always invites us generously into realms we never expected that draw out the best in us. It also draws us into a level of honesty and tenderness with ourselves that can shake up our presuppositions. In intimate encounters we discover messages tailored to our lives, always positive, loving, enabling. Intimacy invites us forward to the next good thing.
What about transitions having to do with jobs, careers, or long-term relationships? In these you are deliberately looking into your core for clues as to what the next phase of your life will be like. You are drawn into the mystery of the unknown.
You likely realize that on many and complex levels, you are not the same person you were previously. You have stories you like to tell as well as experiences you wish to keep private. You are shifting from living up to others’ expectations, to asking yourself what you want to do in this moment.
I have three questions that might be helpful:
1. What is your self-talk saying about what’s happening to you in this transition? And if your transition could speak, what would it be saying back to you?
All transitions are a mix of hope and frequently unfair self-judgment. Your profound experiences in past jobs or relationships have shown you what you are capable of. Yet you may sometimes get down on yourself for not doing better or for losing out on opportunities along the way. You may even feel discouraged and just want to move on. Yet what if you focused on the perspective that you’re not ending an old life but witnessing a new life coming to birth in and through you?
2. What emotions are coming up during this time that may be uncomfortable, unfamiliar, or that you think are inappropriate? Grief, sadness, fear, anger, relief, joy, dread, shame, exhaustion, and even indifference, are all possible.
This transition is offering you a gift in these emotions. They are coming to the surface; some may have been buried long ago. They are morally neutral and so defy judgment by anyone. They usually point to deeper concerns and to your gentle and vulnerable humanity. They are signals for you to pay attention before dismissing them.
3. What about shame-based messages that carry, not guilt, but a feeling of being somewhat defective as a person?
I am not enough. This is too much. I’m scared. I’m afraid I’ll fail. I have no safety net. What am I going to do? I’m may not have enough money for my family. No one understands what I’m going through. I don’t want to burden my spouse. I’m not good enough. Why me?
Intimacy with your transition means that you trust it to work for you and you learn to reframe unhelpful, toxic messages, no matter where they originated. What does your transition want to say instead, to counteract self-criticism?
I AM enough. I have handled much worse! Being scared is normal and cannot hurt me. I will not fail because I a successful person! I am my own safety net. I will take one step at a time. My family will live in security and love. It’s enough that I and my comrades understand what I’m going through. My spouse loves me and supports me. I’m not simply good, I am great! Why not me…I have much to accomplish in my life’s mission.
Transitions are intimate, personal, and lonely experiences. Speak your truth, validate your feelings, and move on to the next good thing!
I would love to hear from you. I work by phone or at my office in Tampa. Contact me: Michael@mpariselifecoach.com 813-444-9641. Confidentiality assured.