Turns out crying over spilt milk serves a purpose!
In our insanely fast-paced world, we truly believe we should recover from unsettling events quickly…just get over it and move on NOW!!! Time’s a-wastin’! Don't cry over spilt milk! However, trying to expedite the change and acceptance process and push through without acknowledging the loss of something (even spilt milk) isn’t helpful. In fact, it’s harmful.
Using the “spilt milk” analogy may seem a bit trivial but it serves my point of how modern society promotes a “what’s done is done” mindset and there is no patience or sympathy for anyone wallowing in the past.
What many of us have sadly failed to understand is that there is so much more than meets the eye when it comes to change and acceptance. According to William Bridges’ Transition Model, change is the external situational event; while transition is the inner psychological processing/coming to terms with what the change means. Transition involves a 3-step process:
Bridges’ Transition Model
1) Ending, Losing, Letting Go
2) The Neutral Zone, Transition
3) The New Beginning
The Ending happens at a specific date and time and is often met with resentment, anger, frustration, uncertainty and sense of loss. We’re caught in “no man/woman’s land” realizing we can’t go back to the way things were and we’re not quite ready to approach the future. When we’re finally to the point of being able to let go, we’re in the beginning of transition.
The Neutral Zone/Transition is the most uncomfortable part of change that we often ignore and try to escape. Why? Because it feels downright nasty! We feel anxious; perhaps our self-esteem has been challenged. We’re questioning, “Why me?” And we feel like we were just punched in the gut. We may experience all of these things or perhaps just one symptom but whatever it is, we just want to escape…leave…vamoose. Just let it be over! However, we need to identify it, wallow in it; in doing so, it will become easier to let it go and move on. Because the Neutral Zone feels so uncomfortable we have a tendency to try and push through to the New Beginning without giving the Neutral Zone its fair due.
Change is an event. Transition is a process.
Think of it this way: When we lose a friend or a loved one, we mourn the loss (change) through a celebration of their life. Not only do we want to celebrate this person that held a special place in our lives and hearts, we need to. It plays a major role in the transition process and helps us face the difficult change and, in time, move forward to acceptance. When we don’t get the opportunity to do this, we may feel “cheated” of our need to mourn the loss.
The New Beginning heralds a time of acceptance and energy. Depending on the change, you may even be engaged and excited. You may embrace it by looking at ways to enhance your new situation, e.g. learning new skills.
Here is a short YouTube video that provides a fun summary of William Bridges' perspective on change and transition.
Lana’s Change Advice
In the spirit of honouring yourself and your reaction to change, I’ve added a few words of advice onto these oldies but goodies:
“Don’t cry over spilt milk” - BUT don’t forget to mourn its loss.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” - AFTER you’ve taken a moment to assess the situation and alter your course if necessary.
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” - ONLY if after some consideration and assessment, that’s what you want to do.
“Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again” - ONCE you’ve digested the reasons for the setback and are ready to embrace your new course of action.
Stay tuned for my next blog: Self Care in the Neutral Zone