There I was, stuck in a middle seat on a red-eye from Bangkok to Tokyo reading The Story of Siddhartha, otherwise known as The Buddha. It was perhaps due to exhaustion and lack of proper sleep that suddenly, I started to cry: somehow, reading the story of the Buddha triggered in me all kinds of emotions that decided to come to the surface at a most random time, like feelings of being disillusioned with the way the world was, out of place with my life, being lost and desperately wanting to be found, etc. Thankfully my seatmates were asleep.
Navigating all the different and evolving identities of mine (being an entrepreneur, a soon-to-be father, a son, a brother, a soul seeker, etc) felt at the time so untethered and tenuous to the point that I felt stuck. But I also realized, it was time for me to finally move through all these life transitions I was experiencing.
Life Transitions, what are they?
Life transitions are periods where we notice changes in our lifestyle or life events that make us evaluate our lives. I have found that life transitions happen all the time. I have also learned that it’s less painful to deal with it by recognizing those moments and allowing them to happen, rather than perceiving them as a crisis and freaking out about it. In fact, I believe that people should feel concerned if they feel resistance toward life transitions because:
1 – Change is the only constant in life, so if we try so hard to keep things as they are, we create a life full of friction, anger, and sadness.
2- By resisting change we allow fear to take control over our lives (i.e. fear of the unknown) and that way of living prevents us from growing. For example, some people would rather deal with the painful reality of what they know (think abusive relationship, unfulfilling job, etc) than taking a chance for something new.
How do Life Transitions look like?
Life Transitions come in many shapes and forms: they can be initiated by major life events like loss, tragedy, or mental breakdowns, or they can be more subtle, establishing themselves over time like burnouts, loneliness, or disillusionment. When my friend Elisha Goldstein and I created the “LifeShift program” we both felt the need to address those various forms of transitions, so we brought together our 30 years of work and studies and found commonalities in our findings:
Even though life transitions happen in many forms, there are 3 important shifts through which transitions manifest in our lives:
AWARENESS SHIFT – HABITUAL SHIFT – BEING SHIFT
1- Awareness Shift
This is when we become more self-aware, or able to look at ourselves without “being so caught up in it” momentarily so we can see things with a little more distance and gain perspective on how we’re showing up in our lives and in the lives of others.
Often times these shifts in awareness become an opening to greater and more lasting shifts.
2- Habitual Shift
This is when we shift away from one consistent routine, like ways of acting/reacting or habits of consumption we use to have. For example: “I want to change my reactive emotions and communication when a family member brings up something that makes me feel lesser. So I create a cue, like ‘When I feel myself getting defensive, I will take 3 deep breaths, then speak, if at all‘.”
Habitual shifts are usually indicators of deeper shifts needed.
Other shifts in habits can be around our consumption of food, exercise, work/life balance, and more. External influences can trigger the need for habitual shifts, however, it takes a deeper intention and a profound awakening within for the habitual shift to last.
3- “Being” Shift
Our sense of being is an inner to outer expression. When something changes inside of us that triggers a new ways of perceiving things, we witness an evolution in our habits and naturally express a newer version of being. It’s less about trying to be or do good, but more about being guided by that feeling of goodness, effortlessly.
We no longer find ourselves at odds with old habit changes, we just become who we really are. Day after day.
Measures of Impact through Energy
Energy is a great indicator of how impactful the shifts we experience become in the long run.
First, how high or low our energy feels like on a vibration scale? Low energy feels like “Gosh, I have to do this” and high energy feels like “Can’t wait to do this.”
Second, how aligned is this shift with our deeper intentions and way of being in life? High alignment will feel natural, easeful, and full of energy, while low alignment will feel at odds and draining.
Here is the thing: when you are in a clear state of being (aka less thinking and planning and strategies) you can really sense what feels good and high on the vibration scale.
That’s what people mean by “being in the flow.”
Yes, embracing transitions is not easy. And yes transitions appear many times in our lives. But they can be really exciting and life-affirming!
When done in the good supportive company of others, they can actually be a lot easier.
More on transitions with others in our next post.