I remember walking through airport security, tears streaming down my face. I had just kissed the man who I had loved – the man who had abused me – goodbye for good. I wanted everything to be okay, but I knew it wasn’t and couldn’t be. I had sold everything I owned, moved across the country and found myself in debt and in chaos. I was honest enough with myself at that point to tell you that I didn’t even know who I was without him. But I had to leave him in order to save myself, and to save him. The rest of that flight was a blur. I think I ran up a tab I couldn’t afford at the airport bar and then probably ordered more wine on the plane. My dad picked me up and we drove the two hours from the airport home in silence. It was late and I was emotionally depleted. It’s times like that when I love that my dad is happy to listen to classic rock and let me stare blankly out the dark windows. He’s that guy that doesn’t need to talk but is always willing to make a drive and show up. At twenty-four years old, after living on my own for ten years, I was moving back in with my parents, into my childhood bedroom and my future couldn’t feel any bleaker. I didn’t have a car, I didn’t have a dime to my name, and I didn’t have anything left in my heart to feel or to have hope. I wasn’t sure how I would survive, in fact, I couldn’t see past just getting through the day, and so that is what I focused on, day after day, month after month until I finally started to see the light of life again.
The story is much more complex than that, and filled with more pain that I care to share in this post, because the pain isn’t the point – the unexpected hope that births from unwanted life transitions is. In hindsight, the life-changing moment that I got on that plane was one of the greatest turning points of my life, leading me to more love, joy, hope and happiness than I could have ever imagined possible. But, to experience and taste the fullness of life, I had to walk a few days in the darkness of hopelessness.
Big life changes, whether we intend for them to happen or whether they thrust themselves uninvited into our lives, can dump a variety of emotions on us – overwhelm, fear, anxiety and even hopelessness. Whether we are walking through a season of change or not, it’s fair to say that we always know someone who is, and the best thing to know, whether for yourself or to encourage someone else, is that, as with every season, it is only temporary. The truth is that you can actually use and leverage your big life changes to transform your life in a positive way if you learn to move through the changes and to see the disruptions as future opportunities.
I did a full podcast episode on this topic, so if you want to dive deep in conversation with me about how to really move through life changes instead of staying stuck in them, then jump on over to my podcast in iTunes or on my website here to listen to episode #215 of Confidence on the Go for free >>> www.trishblackwell.com/215
MOVING ON AND THROUGH BIG LIFE CHANGES
For me, the key to moving on in my life was learning how to move through first. When life hurts and your heart feels heavy it is hard to believe that there is more for you than the pain you feel in the moment. So, before you can believe in the good that is to come, you have to allow yourself to feel the shadows of the clouds under which you currently sit. Moving through means sitting in the pain, processing it and working through it – not just numbing it, which is what people often do instead. It isn’t easy, but nothing worth anything in life ever is, and so though it is challenging, it is worth the emotional wrestling it demands and I promise you will come out for the better as a result.
You can move through changes by –
- Identifying the full extent and impact on the change on your life
- Grieving the loss you feel
- Addressing the discomfort of change
- Reminding yourself of your strength and courage and ability to do hard things
- Knowing that this is a season of strengthening
In this particular relationship example, I had to really process what changes were unfolding in my life and how my life would look and be different, down to the even smallest of details. Staying in denial about the change was detrimental and destructive to my emotional state, so by being honest with what changes to expect, I learned how to stop being surprised and saddened by the changes. Once I fully processed the changes, I then allowed myself to grieve the loss of the love I felt. I grieved the wedding that was planned. I grieved over the abuse that incurred. I grieved over my emotional wounds. I grieved over his pain and bad choices. I grieved the loss of what could have been. I grieved over my poor choices, and then once I grieved those things, I was able to put them to rest and bury them in a way that allowed me to move on with more hope towards the future. Next I moved into a season of self-awareness, allowing myself to acknowledge and truly connect with the discomfort of change I was feeling and using that information to fuel my personal rebuilding. I decided to view the transition as a season of personal reconstruction and I began to continually remind myself that every challenge, every pain and every struggle was creating within me strength I could have never had without it. I began to keep a list of things about myself that I was proud of – mostly emotional victories and mindset changes, to celebrate the fact that I was not completely broken and that what could have broken me was doing just the opposite – it was making me better and stronger. I learned then that I truly could do hard things, and in believing in that and seeing myself slowly, yet triumphantly struggle through that season of pain I did learn that it was true – I was stronger and more capable than I ever thought I was. It was when I embraced this new truth about myself that I was able to look at the life change and disruption as a gift I never knew I would have wanted – it was a gift that gave me strength and beauty previously unavailable to me, and that changed my life for forever.
DISRUPTIONS ARE OPPORTUNITIES
One of the mistakes we make when disruptions come into our lives is that we don’t see them as what they really are: disguised opportunities. It sounds trite to put such a blanket statement to what can be life-altering circumstances, but from my own personal experience and that of my coaching clients, I really do believe this to be true. It has been true for me through personal health issues, depression, relationship changes, abuse, sexual assault, severe PTSD, career disappointments, loss and many, many closed doors in life. The word pain itself doesn’t do what is experienced and felt during such seasons justice, but I do know that those seasons bring justice and hope to our lives in ways we cannot predict.
Disruptions in life make us slow down and reconnect to ourselves, our strength and our desires – if properly processed, either on our own or with a confidence or life coach, they can unveil undiscovered opportunities that we might not have ever discovered. In particular, when major disruptions come into your life, there are a few important simple factors to remember: Always look for the lesson in the disruption – there always is one. Always find something to be grateful for, no matter the pain or inconvenience. Always consider every disruption a strengthening exercise that will pay off dividends in the future. Always spend time alone in thought or writing reflection seeking clarity and vision to process through your pain. Always remember that God has a bigger than for you than you have for yourself.
3 THINGS TO REMEMBER IN A BIG SEASON OF CHANGE
1). Change is never comfortable for anyone.
You shouldn’t feel comfortable and it’s okay to have some anxiety when experiencing a season of change or transition. The discomfort isn’t a sign that anything is off, just that something is different. Rather than allow yourself to be distracted by fear that comes naturally with the discomfort, remember that everyone experiences these emotions and that you, because you are well-prepared emotionally, will thrive in the discomfort of transition. It’s imperative to remember that it’s what you do with your emotions that matters – not the fact that you experience or feel them. You have the power to let an emotion stay with you or not, so when it comes to the fear of change, let the emotion be acknowledged, and then choose to press it out of your state of being. Emotions get the best of us when they convince us that we are isolated and alone in feeling them. The truth is that change is never comfortable for anyone, so it’s okay to not be comfortable right now in this moment; you just have to remember that you won’t always feel this way.
2). Change opens doors that you might not have ever otherwise seen.
God has a bigger plan for you – and He will lead you where you need to go – so even though something seems like it should not have happened, or you experienced a great loss, know that God works everything out for the good of those who love Him. Trust the process and trust His goodness. It’s should come to great relief on your soul that you don’t have to have everything figured out – you just need to willingly and openly show up each day of the change you are walking through with optimism and hope.
3). Change creates greatness
You become the person you were meant to be because of challenge and change – so though it hurts and it is hard, what you are walking through is ultimately the greatest training and shaping of your life. When you can see the pain through these lenses you can be more open to what is to come with positive expectation and with gratitude.
I’m certain that I will have many more moments in life when all feels like it is crumbling around me, when it feels like nothing is okay nor will it ever be, but now that I know deeply that God works in mysteriously beautiful ways through these seasons and sufferings of darkness, I have a newfound hope. In fact, my hope is a confidence that seals my soul with trust in what is to come. I anticipate pain and sadness, but I know that hopelessness and I will never share paths again, for I know the truth that God never leaves our side, ever. One of the most profoundly freeing ways to live life to the fullest is to have confidence in knowing that God will carry you to the fullest, through whatever comes your way. Come as they will, the storms of life will shake us and make our souls shiver, but they will not sway us from standing firmly in the love and strength of God. I am thankful that every tear I will cry will be used by God to soothe and strengthen my soul and to prepare me for even greater transformation than what He has done in my life today.
Grateful for every season of life,
PS > If you are in a season of trail or transition right now, please believe in the hope and strengthening you are undergoing right now and have confidence that the pain you feel right now will be a blessing and gift to come. As mentioned in this post I do believe that it is extremely helpful to surround yourself with love and support to help you keep your thoughts sharp and your mind focused on the strength you are gaining, and so, if that describes you, I would love to personally invite you to join me in The College of Confidence (www.trishblackwell.com/college) where I can love on you with words of encouragement and some weekly strategy and support to train your thoughts.