How to Navigate Difficult Life Transitions
We at Solid Foundations Therapy know that even the strongest of couples at times are faced with life challenges that create an immense amount of stress in the relationship. Many couples find it is more difficult to communicate through these big life changes. That may be due to how tied each person is to their viewpoint on how the transition should be best handled or their individual fears surrounding change. The communication starts to break town, tempers start to flair and conflict ensues
The fact is, huge stressors bring out everyone’s “stuff” as I like to call it. “Stuff” can be the negative internalized messages from childhood (ex. A learned belief that you weren’t good enough), unhealthy coping mechanisms, our greatest fears, unconscious desires or internals conflicts. This happens with planning, transition to being parents, launching kids out of the house, buying/selling a house, and many other important yet difficult transitions couples face throughout their life together. Why? Because big transitions often cause your stuff to hit up against your partner’s stuff. We have individual hopes, dreams, and fears that must be part of the conversation, yet are much less “negotiable” than smaller decisions.
Here are 5 recommendations for dealing positively with difficult life changes; we’re sure if you aim to incorporate these into your life and relationship you will find these changes easier:
- Work on accepting the reality! Change is inevitable; whether you like it or not, with every life stage there comes a new challenge – on the other side is always an added benefit but we often focus on the negative. To create positive change, you must first accept the reality that life will not be the same (but it won’t be terrible, either!).
- Reflect through thought, journaling, or scheduled conversations with your spouse. Busy bodies tend to have a difficult time with this; just because you are not taking the time to process and talk about change doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Make the time to reflect and understand what you are dealing with and change will become easier to embrace.
- Live in the NOW! Take things one day at a time. One thing I often ask my clients is to focus on whether they can answer the question “Can I do anything to problem solve this RIGHT NOW?” If the answer is no, anxious thinking is useless and serves no purpose other than mental anguish. You’re free to let it go.
- Positive thought rehearsal. For every few worries that cross your brain, force yourself (it will get easier, we promise) to think of something positive coming from the change, or an exciting piece of the change that is an added bonus in your life. Everything cannot be all bad; so challenge yourself on this type of thinking.
- Reach out for guidance. No matter who you are, there’s likely to be a mentor, a good friend, a family member who has walked a mile in your or your spouse’ shoes. They can give you encouragement and a realistic viewpoint on what to expect. This support helps us to feel like we are not alone.
If you are looking for additional help to navigate a transition, don’t hesitate, contact us today. One our therapist will be happy to help.