This is the first time I write a blog post on request. Have to admit it is a bit scary because you know somewhere there is another person with expectations.
Transition – The movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another.
(Sorry for the dictionary piece, but we have to make sure that we are discussing the same element.)
Why do we as humans find transitioning so difficult? When you talk to someone experiencing a major transition, they explain that it is uncomfortable, disorientating, confusing and simply hard.
I have thought about this and because I have committed myself to discuss things from a principled perspective (should apply under all circumstances) I have to point out a few things.
- Humans are complex (we operate in 5 to 6 areas simultaneously – Refer The Management Imperative)
- Sexual / Physical
- Cultural / Social
- Many kinds of transition
- Durations can vary significantly
- Both Impact and Probability of occurrence vary
So what do all transitions have in common?
We are not always allowed to elect the transition in our lives (e.g. death of someone close) but sometimes we have the option (e.g. career). Whither we have the luxury of choice or not, the emotions that follow are only sightly different from one another and there is a recognisable process pattern. However, these may vary significantly in magnitude (compare death of marriage partner to divorce) or in which emotions are included or play major roles.
Emotion (Category and Level)
Because emotions are so complex we tend to silo or categorise them into manageble areas and Maslow contends that we experience emotions on different levels. The emotions that we relate to our intellectual capacity are managed quite separately from emotions that we have towards our financials. Without the presence of a transition event, we take each of these areas and stack the emotions neatly as shown in the Maslow picture. Amazing as this may sound, but moving from one emotional layer (e.g. love/belonging to self esteem) in any area introduces a transition moment.
What transition does on an emotional level is to mix the “neatly” categorised and levelled emotions into a singularity – rollercoaster as described by most. We find that we have to redefine ourselves as humans that we have to reorganize how we perceive ourselves, who we would like others to perceive us and eventually WHO WE REALLY ARE.
Process (Impact, severity, probability, duration)
Having raging and out of control emotions is not the only factor that makes transitions difficult. Every transition consists of multiple processes (both physical and emotional) which do not occur in neatly arranged patterns.
In some cases, where we have options, the most overwhelming emotional struggle emanates from the do or don’t (stay and go) decision point. The reason for this is brought on by the fear of the unknown and loyalty (resisting the urge to change); the reasons that compel us to go are mostly dissatisfaction or frustration brought on by an inability to function or perform. Interesting thing occurs the moment the decision has been made; the emotions shift immediately to mimic those experienced by transitions without choice – There is loss, dissolution, anger, fear, vulnerability, self-doubt, pain, anguish and significant stress all rolled into one.
An emotional process then has increasing stress up to a point where we deal (decide, accept, resign) with the situation, followed by a recovery period (mourn, anger, resentment). Transitions are unkind in that the processes follow more quickly than we can deal with under usual conditions. The next process initiates before we have had the opportunity to recover from the previous.
- Death in the family consists of burial / memorial, family considerations, insurance, will and testament, children; all of which are contained within grief of loss and sorrow (see process 1 graph).
- Change of job has go / no go, interviews, offers, remuneration negotiation, notice periods, bedding in at new organisation all of which are pretty similar in impact severity (see process 2 graph).
This is very very very difficult to manage, overcome and cope with for a sustained period.
Overall Effect (emotion + process)
If we then combine the emotional and process aspects the overall effect on our well-being as humans can be described as follows:
The vertical size of the graph is related to the severity of the overall impact on us and the horizontal depicts the duration. These sound wave graphs are similar to those generated by a piano note or a guitar string.
Does this post give you an answer of how to deal with the transition moment – I doubt it. It is aimed to try to explain to you what happens to you during a transition event. Once us humans understand something, we tend to apply better coping mechanisms to addressing problems.
Life without understanding is merely existence.
If you have something that you would like me to discuss, send me a request, I promise to do my absolute level best to address it.
Please feel free to comment, share and discuss this.
- Transitions Happen! (psychologytoday.com)