Book Review: Transitions ~William Bridges
Death and Taxes used to be just about all that folks felt were inevitable in the course of living life. All though those two processes seem to be part of life for sure there is another variable that really is more prevalent in our lives that the first two listed and it is – Change.
We do not have many of the loose coins in our pocket anymore, but the amount of change a body must process through in a lifetime is coming at a rapid pace these days.
The folks who are avoiding change or avoiding making change in their lives seemed to be trapped into a hanging on which does not give them new tools for coping with the change. Stress fueling their every waking moment.
A dear friend of mine is suffering with so many ailments and is in the throes of a hording syndrome that now includes rats in her home. I thought this latest problem would allow her to find release and to make a change, which might open the door to more change. Such has not been the case or the outcome.
I went back to my trusted authority on making change in one’s life which is the book . I believe his name is what initially caught my attention in the bookstore. How clever, a person named Bridges talking about transition and change. It made the concept simple and I refer to my tattered copy so many times during the year when I am problem-solving.
This is not a new book but it is the ground work for a number of other studies and it just makes sense in a slow moving cycle or a busy, fast paced season of change.
Bridges premise is that there are three distinct stages of change and recognizing which stage is taking up your time at the moment is key to understanding your situation and making progress to transition into your new stage.
The Three stages of change spelled out are Endings, The Neutral Zone, and The New Beginning.
I would like to focus on a traditionally happy ending – the wedding. Yep! This is an ending, it is a time when you are ending your definition of yourself as being a single being. You are publically stating that you are making a comment to a relationship with another individual. People offer toasts, well wishes, advice and hopefully there is some skilled counseling involved before the big event. An ending is the beginning of a change and it is not a final moment but it is the beginning of the transition. We are on to something new.
The Neutral Zone is the next phase. After a wedding we call this the honeymoon period, the honeymoon is not just the trip, rather it is a period of time when the couple is testing and problem-solving and bonding. It is a time of reorientation; a time of testing the different pathways possible to this relationship. Can this marriage withstand buying a house, how will you celebrate the holidays or an unplanned pregnancy, or that new partner never does the dishes? There is lots of trial and error in the dance of conflict resolution and the newness of your relationship.
The New Beginning comes only at the end of the transition. Sometimes it comes as an Ah Ha moment in hindsight, or when we become just determined to launch a new activity and find success. It requires more than just perseverance, “it requires an understanding of external signs and inner signals that point the way to the future.”
In the wedding example of a transition, the new beginning might be that the couple just realizes they were truly working as a team in the negotiations over the purchase of the right house for their needs and wants to be met, and that they had truly listened and understood the other person’s needs and wants in the situation. They are all set to move in – to a new transition phase of their marriage.
An unhappy example of an ending might be when one partner becomes seriously ill in a relationship or the relationship is terminated because of a sudden death. The Neutral Zone is something which takes a long time of healing work and changes in expectations and plans. This cycle can be extremely uncomfortable as we disconnect from the past, the present is extremely emotionally traumatizing, and we need assistance and time to reorganize ourselves for the future – our new beginnings.
I most often return to this book to discover that I have not fully acknowledged an Ending and that I am wandering around in the Neutral Zone needing some assistance in reading the signs that direct me towards a new Beginning. Being in the Neutral Zone has become uncomfortable; I am relieved to open my copy of this book and regain my focus and find a new understanding.
We all have different skills at making change in our lives; I have positive redirections to employ with the outline which Dr. Bridges builds his premise of change.
I have read a number of blogs that have shared about simplifying their holiday and not spending as much on gifts as they transition to the new economic circumstances in their lives. I am wondering how that went and was it a transition in which you were successful? How will it change your future celebrations?
What stages of transition do you find most difficult? What transitions are you planning for and making preparations?
I look forward to your comments.
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