Justin Less, LICSW
Caring Path Counseling, LLC
It has been said that the “only constant in life is change.” Human beings are faced with change throughout the lifespan. Some of these changes are chosen and self directed while others are unexpected, unplanned, and undesired. Much of my work as a therapist involves supporting clients to manage and thrive when facing life changes and unexpected events. There are as many types of change as there are responses to change; our style of adjustment and transition is unique to our life situation, strengths, weaknesses, and personality. Some of us manage change more easily while others struggle to accept and persevere in the wake of change.
Transition is the process of adjusting to change. William Bridges, an expert on personal and corporate change management identified three primary phase of change:
1. Ending, Losing, and Letting go
2. The Neutral Zone
3. The New Beginning
During the initial state of change shock, grief, confusion, and depression are common reactions. The neutral zone often involves a sense of relief; that the acute pain felt immediately after the change begins to lift. There may be a sense of surrender to the reality of the change instead of resisting it or trying to hold on to once was. During the final stage of change one embarks on a new journey and a new beginning, even though they may not know exactly where the road will take them. Although enthusiasm and excitement may precede the entry to the new beginning, it is more commonly approached with an attitude of “ a direction and movement towards something is better than no direction or movement forward.”
I support my clients in managing grief and loss, the neutral zone, and the new beginning. Common areas we work on involve promotion of self-compassion, promotion of mindfulness practices that reduce suffering, and reviewing and practicing optimal self-care. We also sort through the complex feelings of loss, uncertainty, confusion, and fear. We discuss how your life philosophy may be altered as a result of the change and ways you can accommodate and adjust your life philosophy to continue to serve you. Surrendering to the reality of the situation through acceptance, taking breaks from grief and problem solving, and prioritizing time spend with supportive and loving friends and family are common focus areas of our work. As you embark on your new journey, we spend time focused on how to stay focused on your new pathway even when fear, doubt, and confusion come up. My job is to support, encourage, and assist in troubleshooting when the new beginning presents challenges or setbacks.
Although it rarely feels like it at the time a change occurs, we often look back and reflect on how much the change provided new opportunities and interesting twists and turns in the journey of life. Human beings have a natural drive towards growth and self-realization. I am continuously inspired by my clients who in the face of change and loss create deeper meaning, purpose, and relationships in their lives.
July 27, 2017