Transition: The Way Through Change

| March 10, 2015 | Comments (3)

Part 1: Stages of Transition and the Grieving Process

There are a lot of people going through change and transition right now. Maybe you are one of them. You find yourself struggling, frustrated, and wondering if you will ever move past the place where you find yourself.

Dr. William Bridges is the pioneer in the field of transition work. Dr. Bridges was a professor of English whose own personal inquiry into the confusing aspects of his own experience lead him to make sense out of unexpected changes in his own life. He then saw a need to work with others who felt the same need using the process that was revealed through his own personal inquiry. I use this process as a framework with myself and others to successfully navigate the often uncomfortable feelings inherent in transitions and profound change.

So, what is transition? Transition is not change. Change is situational. Transition is an internal emotional process of how you respond to and come to terms with change. It’s a reorientation process we go through so that we can find new meaning and ways of functioning in a changed situation.

Transitions often lead to frustration when the stages of transition are not recognized or are overlooked.

The three stages of transition are:
– Endings
– Neutral Zone
– New Beginning

When going through any kind of personal change with its accompanying transition process, there is a natural 5 stage grieving process that occurs. Psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross uncovered this process through her work in bereavement counseling.

The stages are:
– Denial
– Anger
– Bargaining
– Depression
– Acceptance

Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality relating to the situation concerned. It’s a defense mechanism and perfectly natural. Some people can become locked in this stage when dealing with a traumatic change.

Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves, and/or with others, especially those close to them. Knowing this helps to detached and be non-judgmental when experiencing the anger of someone who is very upset.

Bargaining is seeking to negotiate a compromise. For example “Can we still be friends?..” when facing a break-up. When a child goes off to college the parent (or child) might say that they will call every weekend. It can also take the form of “If only I/we…” (fill in the blank). Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution.

Depression is a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It’s natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept the reality.

Acceptance is an indication that there is some emotional detachment and objectivity. You cannot move fully into a new  beginning until there is acceptance at the core of your being as to what has changed.

This is the typical way the stages of the grieving process unfold, although they don’t necessarily happen in this order, or two stages may occur concurrently. Everyone’s process in unique as the individual. As human being we go through this process whether we are moving from one dwelling to another, one city or state to another, changing life situations, or just clearing out old “stuff”. The more profound the change the more apparent the grieving process.

This is Part 1 of a 4-Part blog post. Watch for Part 2 of Transition: The Way Through Change – Endings: Letting Go of the Old, where I will explain the first stage of the three stage transition process, to be posted soon.

Live the Possibilities!!

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Category: Empowerment

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  1. […] Part 1 of Transition: The Way Through I described the 3 stages of the transition process . In Part 2 we are talking about Endings and letting go of the […]

  2. […] In Part 1 of Transition: The Way Through Change I described the 3 stages of the transition process and the 5 stages of the grieving process. You can read this post at . […]

  3. […] the 3 stages of the transition process and the grieving process. You can read this post at […]

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