This week we welcome our new guest blogger, Gail Braverman, LMFT, with the first of her three part series on transitions. Visit our team page to learn more about Gail and her work.
Each one of our journeys as a caregiver is unique because of who we are, our life situations, gender, stage of life, stage of health, the support we have, and our coping abilities. However, the overall processes of transitions are universal to everyone.
There are three stages of transitions: Letting Go of the Old Way, the In-Between, and Accepting the New Way. These stages are not linear and logical. We move back and forth, they overlap, are fluid and sometimes we have several transitions going on at one time.
Change is an external event such as an illness, a death, moving, a change of jobs. Transition is an interior process as a result of a change. It is our personal reaction to change. We ask ourselves: “What happened, what does it mean, and how do I integrate this into my world?”
The first part, and maybe the most painful in a transition, is the letting go. Letting go of the way things used to be, what you have to leave behind and dreams that are no longer possible. There is grief and loss in this stage.
The following technique will help you identify and compassionately work through your feelings and emotions, so you don’t get stuck. You can do this by writing them down and journaling, or by sitting in a quiet space.
First choose somewhere private, quiet, and comfortable. Then take a few deep breaths to slow down, and follow the 3 steps below:
- Awareness: Imagine you are looking at your feelings and emotions with a flashlight and discovering what’s there. What are you feeling, and where are you feeling it? Name it. It helps to put a name or a label to our feelings.
- Acknowledge your feelings: This is not about fixing or doing anything, but acknowledging what you’re feeling. You witness your pain so the afraid parts of you feel validated and supported. “I’m feeling scared or sad” and you validate those feelings. “This is really hard,” or, “of course you would feel that way.”
- Allow your feelings: This is the simplest but hardest step. Just sit with your experience for a moment. Feelings can be painful and are often irrational so we try to avoid them. But it’s the very avoidance of feelings that keeps us stuck.
Staying with the process of Letting Go for as long as you need to will help you continue your caregiving journey from a place of authenticity and inner strength and integrity instead of from fear and avoidance!
In my next blog I will talk about The In-Between Place. The place of challenge and possibilities.