Change is inevitable but that doesn't make it easy for us to get used to.
Our lives are filled with chapters and often there comes a time when one chapter ends and it's time for another to begin. These transitions between two phases are always a little uncomfortable and involve a lot of adjustments - physical and mental. And it's not a question of how welcome or how unexpected this new chapter is. Human brains are wired for systems and routines and any sort of major change is initially an unpleasant experience for them. We are adaptable creatures, so with time, our ways are bound to change and fit to these new-found circumstances of our lives. But if there are a few things we can do along the way to make these transitions as smooth as possible, what's the harm in giving those a try, right?
So why talk about this all of a sudden, Aparna?
Well, I'm entering a new phase in my life myself and there are a few realisations I'm slowly having along the way which I thought of sharing with my dear Save Ourselves community.
So here are a few tips for you if you're entering a new chapter in your life:
Allot yourself a buffer period
You can't suddenly expect yourself to jump from one chapter into the next and get used to the way things work immediately. Sometimes we forget to give ourselves the time and space to get used to things and then wonder why change is so hard and overwhelming.
Giving ourselves a buffer period starts with being aware of a change occurring in our lives and acknowledging the fact that we might need time to adjust, no matter how desirable or exciting the change might be. We need a little time to acclimatise.
What to do in this buffer period?
You can give yourself the time to unlearn earlier habits and let yourself form new ones over a period of time. You can let yourself go through that uncomfortable period of watching things change around you and feel everything that needs to be felt.
How long should this buffer period be?
While this totally depends on how big and what kind of a change we're going through; as a rule of thumb giving ourselves at least 2-3 weeks to get adjusted to the new way of things sounds like a good idea.
Look at where you've come from
Change can be overwhelming and frightening. It can make you doubt yourself and drain away your confidence. What can help us find solid ground in these situations is reflection. Reflection is an integral part of self-awareness and it lets us gain a more objective overview of our own lives.
Looking back at where you've come from is a powerful tool to regain that confidence. It lets us become more cognizant of all the hardships we've faced and overcome in the past; it lets us see all the milestones we've achieved over the course of our lives.
Some helpful exercises for reflection:
Read your previous journal entries if you maintain a journal
Pen down your thoughts in this buffer period to note the kind of feelings and emotions you're going through
Write down all the things you've achieved during the course of your life
Look at where you're going
The future, on one hand, is a dark, unknown place that feels scary to step into. On the other hand, it's hopeful and full of opportunities. Depending on what lens we choose to look through, the future can look different to us. It's vital to view it from a neutral point of view where we're not pessimistic about it but neither do we have the lens of toxic positivity.
Often we have a certain path in mind that we want to tread upon. And while having a plan is great, thinking about the other possible scenarios is only wise. Life can take any turn it wishes and plans are not always meant to work out. So having an idea about the different possibilities this new chapter can hold for us can help us choose the path worth treading on.
A few helpful exercises to effectively look at where you're going:
Write down a list of all the different things you can do in this new phase of life
Make a mind map - put yourself in the central bubble and draw mutiple lines going in different directions. Write down the various future possibilites at the end of these lines and see if there are any interconnections between them. This can help us choose the right path for us and give us a visual overview of our thoughts
Talk to people who've been through this chapter already and look at their thought process and the possibilities they had considered
Find out what you're expecting from yourself in this new chapter
The main thing about these new chapters in life is that I find they are more so defined by the external circumstances we find ourselves in. For eg., the chapters in your life would be school, college, job, etc. These are your circumstances. However, these chapters don't take into account the kind of person we are in each of these phases, the ideologies we have and the values we hold. The person we are is more of what we have in our control rather than the circumstances.
So focusing on things we can change, we can make adjusting to these phases in life a lot smoother, in my opinion.
Use this opportunity to create new routines and habits
There's nothing like a fresh start that can set us up for getting started with new routines and habits. Taking some time to reset and form new habits that are better suited for this new phase in life can do wonders to the transition from the previous phase into the next one.
Changes in chapters can serve as the perfect opportunity for us to become better versions of ourselves and focus on self-improvement.
I hope that this blog post was helpful for you. Come back to it any time you are entering a new chapter in your life!
Meanwhile, here's a quick video version of this topic: