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Three Steps to Navigating Life Change

clip_landscapeEditor's Message: The magic, and the challenge, of life lies in its unpredictable and mysterious nature. Who would guess that they would wake up to a pink slip, or a broken heart, or, on a positive note, a winning lottery ticket? Often times, the cards are dealt for us. It is easy to say "it will pass. Things will get back to normal". But more often than not, one would find himself being buried by all the emotions. Our psychology is a battle all by itself. This article gives us a practical guide to navigate through these life changes.

As we all see and feel, on both a personal and global scale, that there is more change going on than ever before. This can be difficult, even for those who are self aware and on a spiritual path. The unsettled environment causes many people to experience uncharacteristic depression, discouragement, and uncertainty about the future. Many are in the middle of some kind of transition (voluntary or otherwise) or sense change on the horizon, yet do not have a clear picture of where they are going or what is next--let alone why this is happening!

Job loss, illness, injury, divorce, moving, death of a loved one...all of these can test the best of us. Here is a three step process for handling change and moving forward even under uncertain circumstances.

Honor the Past

Step one is Honoring the Past. It is easy to get stuck constantly fretting about the future, failing to fully see and honor all you have been through and accomplished to get to the point you are at now. I am willing to bet that even if you just look at the last six months, you have been through more than you realize.  Really think back over the last six months, year, or whatever time period you want to work with.  Write down the significant events, accomplishments, experiences, people, realizations and so on in your life. Don't edit. Many things may not seem related or even relevant, but they happened in your life and have helped shape who you are today.

Give yourself full credit for your accomplishments, even if they seem insignificant or no one else would care about them. Did you stick to a diet or exercise program, even for a little while? Have you overcome shyness, reaching out to meet new people? Have you been kinder, more forgiving, a nicer person in any way? Or have you learned to assert yourself, clearly stating your opinions and needs? If you worked at something and made progress or even just put in honest effort, give yourself a pat on the back.

Also look at and acknowledge the challenges you have faced.  What have you been through? Unemployment? Illness? Everyone experiences their challenges in their own way. Even if you seem to be facing something similar to someone else, keep in mind that every one's situation is a little different. Don't judge yourself based on how others seem to be handling similar situations. What has this experience been like for you? How have you responded?

In what ways in the past were you imprisoned, stagnant or calcified? In going through change there are always things you must let go of. Often these are comforting things, things you took for granted, things you relied on...a comfortable pay check, a meaningful relationship, a dream or vision of how your life was "supposed to be".  Often those very things that form the structure of your life can also become the prison of your life. When change comes knocking, the structures you "couldn't live without" are often the first to go. Ready or not you are cast out of your comfortable familiarity, forced to reevaluate, change your assumptions and adapt.

Acknowledge the Present

Step 2 is Acknowledging the Present. When moving through a major life transition it is important to have a firm understanding of where you are before trying to move forward. Being clear about the present, your current situation, will allow you to proceed forward on firm footing. Unpleasant realities acknowledged and dealt with are much less scary in the end than realities ignored until they are unavoidable. Plus, there are almost certain to be some positives to your present situation that you may not have noticed yet.

First of all assess your physical, 3D reality. How is your health? If it is good, count your blessings. If not, is there anything you can do to improve the situation? What is your money situation? What resources can you draw on at the present time? Resources could be of various kinds. Maybe a friend is willing to provide childcare while you go to job interviews, etc. Also assess the external demands being placed on you. What do you have to do verses what is optional?

Now for the juicy part--assessing your emotional reality! If this was an involuntary transition, chances are you have quite a few unresolved emotions about your situation. Take a notebook and vent your raw emotion onto the page. You may not be proud of your thoughts or feelings, but no one needs to see, and it is better than lying to yourself or trying to hide it. If you feel angry, betrayed, helpless, scared, stupid, sad, or a myriad of other emotions, that's normal. You are human, and it is ok to feel the way you do.

Embrace the Future

Step 3 is Embracing the Future. After you honor the past and acknowledge the present you are ready to look toward your own bright future.

What does it mean to embrace the future? It means to stand on the foundation where you are and invite in your best future possible. It also means to have crystal clarity about where you are going and what you want in your life.

It takes courage to envision a positive future for yourself, especially if you have recently been through difficult events, and your present may be more tenuous than you would like. Taking your future seriously requires taking yourself seriously. You must be the first to respect yourself enough to envision and plan a future that works for you. You are probably already acutely aware of what is not working in your life. What would it look like if things were going well? What would it feel like if you were getting your needs met?

Many things have shifted in your life. What do you now have room for? What would you like to invite in? More time for self-reflection? Reconnection with old friends? A new relationship? Part of this process is to recognize that even though some things have left your life, you get to now decide how to fill up the gaps that have been created. Or perhaps you don't want to fill them right away. You may like the feeling of airy spaciousness and the sense of not being tied down that you may not have experienced in many years. The point is, you get to decide. It is your vision, your goals, your future.

By honoring the past, acknowledging the present and embracing the future any life change can be navigated with grace and hope.

Anna Fruchterman is a shamanic healer working in Seattle. Trained in Core Shamanism, Anna offers shamanic healing, energy work, coaching and classes to support clients in healing and navigating life transitions. She can be reached by phone at 206-491-3555.