Turning points are nature's way of giving us an opportunity to grow and enhance our potential. Some encounter them in adversity, some through a teacher, a book, a thought, or the inspiring lives of others.
Managing Turning PointsTurning points require an "inner transition"- a psychological transformation of the inner self to deal with the changes in the outer world.
"Transition is the state that change puts people into. The change is external (a different job, a new way of doing things, or change in relationship), while transition is internal (a psychological reorientation that people have to go through before the change can work)," writes William Bridges in his book, Managing Transitions.
The trouble is, most people imagine that transition is automatic - that it occurs simply because the change is happening. But it doesn't. Even when a change is showing signs that it may work, there is the issue of timing, for transition happens much more slowly than change.
Transition takes longer because it requires that people undergo threeseparate processes, and all of them are upsetting.
Letting go of the Past: The first requirement is that we have to let go of the way we were. You have to leave where you are, and many people have spent their whole lives standing on where they are. You have to let go of the whole world of experience, the sense of identity, even "reality" itself.
Staying in the Present: Even after we have let go of our old ways, we find ourselves unable to start anew. We are entering the second difficult phase of transition. This is the present zone, and that in-between state is so full of uncertainty and confusion, that simply coping with it takes most of people's energy. This zone is uncomfortable, so people are driven to get out of it. Some people try to rush ahead into some (often any) new situation, while others try to back-pedal and retreat into the past. Successful transition, however, requires that people spend some time in the neutral zone. This time in the neutral zone is not wasted, for that is where the creativity and energy of transition are found and the real transformation takes place. It's like the 14 years of wilderness that Buddha spent before he achieved "enlightenment".
Letting the future emerge: Some people fail to get through transition because they do not let go of the old ways and make an ending; others fail because they become frightened and confused by the neutral zone and don't stay in it long enough for it to do its work on them. Some, however, do get through these first two phases of transition, but then freeze when they face the third phase, the new beginning. This phase can be disconcerting - it puts one's sense of competence and value at risk.
When we are in the process of change, especially change that is forced on us due to circumstances, transitions can be very painful. But when we answer a call and start following the path that life leads us to, the transitions can be exhilarating and energising.
We have a choice - do we want to follow our calling and choose the path with a heart or force ourselves to change and choose any path to meet the emergent world?
- R Sankarasubramanyan
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