Emotional Maze of Transition – Part 1

We all start a transition in a place of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. Then we must at some point take stock of what options are available to us, such as, what we can do and what will help us move forward. As time passes and we move through transition our feelings about the circumstances will change many times.

During a transition time our emotional maze will be unique and the key is to keep trying different tactics until we begin to discover what works in order to maintain our physical and emotional health.


When we hear the news of a difficult transition ahead, we have a physical reaction of emotions, which can be fear, anger, sadness, shame, guilt or embarrassment. While our emotions exist to help us keep a positively regulated life, when a transition occurs, it can send us off keel with intense stress and not able to make sound decisions.

Understanding that our emotional system is automatic, we can start to make sense of the displays of anger and feelings of sadness, as our foundation have been shaken.

It’s important to honour and acknowledge our emotions and to face the impact of the situation. For some people their reaction may be a numbing one where they may be coping by slowing revealing the reality of the situation over time.

What helps when our emotions are rampant? Author of “Tough Transitions”, Elizabeth Harper Neeld suggests that we slow down. Allow ourselves time to process our emotions and pay attention to our health and well being. By slowing down we can cut out the activities that don’t serve us and replace them with rest, pampering and time to be aware of our physical and mental symptoms.

This awareness of how we are doing allows us an opportunity to reflect on how we are creating healthy behaviours or patterns to deal with the new situations as unhealthy behaviours can easily appear. Ways to help with self care while we are responding to a transition are: journaling, exercise, meditation, prayer, walks in nature, soft music or seeing a counselor/therapist.

It takes time to rebuild our inner world after it has been rocked and time to find ways to refine ourselves in our new situation. If possible, reach out to other colleagues/family/friends that have been through a transition and ask them their advice on what worked well and what they would have done differently.

Some people have a ceremonial rite to marking the end of a situation. Be creative in how you want to seek closure.

Each of us has our own personal way of moving through transitions, so don’t compare yourself to others who deal with transitions differently than you do. Also please consider seeking advice from your support network or health care provider if you feel you can’t make progress on your own.

Responding to transition:

  1. How will you allow yourself time to process your emotions and pay attention to your health and well being?
  2. What supported you through your last transition that you’d like to use again?
  3. What kinds of self care would be beneficial and what else would you like to try?