The chaos of reinvention
…Five steps for navigating change
by Gail Kauranen Jones, Transformational Coach, Wellness Pioneer and Author
“Healing yourself, whether from heartbreak, illness, addiction, family struggles, or professional disappointment, is not for the faint of heart.”
It takes serious courage — Olympic courage — to do what it takes to transform pain into gold.” — Lissa Rankin, MD.
Like many of us at midlife, I have reinvented myself a few times over.
I’ve changed careers from PR executive to life coach, relationship status from married to single, and my mothering role from full-time caregiver to empty nester with a huge void in my heart to fill.
Nothing has been more painful, terrifying, exhilarating, and growth inspiring than choosing to move cross country 30 months ago to start over again. Initially, I took the risk of relocating to fulfill a promise I made to myself post cancer: Say yes to life, and live with no regret.
My body and soul needed a fresh start, and sunshine and outdoor living to continue staying healthy.
What began as an adventure of the heart–moving from Newburyport, Mass. to Scottsdale, Ariz.–became a Phoenix-rising-from-ashes experience, where I was humbled into a faith journey so deep and life-altering that it has become my third book in the works.
Dr. Lissa Rankin describes it best in the above quote when she describes this type of transformation as requiring “Olympic courage.”
I share this glimpse into my next book with you now because in my 20-plus years of coaching adults through transition, I have noticed how often others define themselves by the external change: the new home, new baby, new job, or new boyfriend. Yet, it is the inner transformation that happens as the result of the external event where growth and lives of increased vibrancy and fulfillment can occur.
The initiation into a new life
And often, that inner work entails a lot of chaos. Chaos is not a bad thing. When we let go of one way of being to become something greater or more expansive, we are honoring our soul’s prompting for growth.
In my continued training with Dr. Joe Dispenza, a leading neuroscientist whose methodologies helped train my mind to heal my body, he refers to this chaos as an initiation into a new life. He says:
“And, as things begin to break down and things don’t go your way or people betray you, things are stolen, or your bank account goes south, or whatever that is, you have to understand that it is a breaking down of the old, and you should never see it as a state of victimization because the moment you see it from a state of victimization, then you’re not 100 percent responsible for your life. And being an abundant person is taking 100 percent responsibility.”
Committing to living a life of joy, purpose and meaning, which is my goal, entails the angst of stepping out of the comfort zone of the familiar.
We are not meant to stay the same throughout our lives:
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
If we fix on the old, we get stuck. When we hang onto any form, we are in danger of putrefaction.
Hell is life drying up.”
–Excerpt from A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
Feeling wobbly, vulnerable and scared is part of the journey for it takes time for the new to integrate and become solid within ourselves.
Here are five tips to move through the process for creating anew:
- Retreat and find time for solitude is essential. Spend as much time in nature and meditating as possible. At least 20 minutes of quiet is necessary, to allow space in your mind and heart for a new level of consciousness to evolve.
- Find like-minded and courageous others in transition (or who have been through a similar one as yours) who treat you with compassion, care and respect versus judgment or condemnation. You will be creating a new tribe that reflects your emerging self.
- Feel your feelings, and accept some days may feel like a roller coaster of emotions. Accept that you may fluctuate from grieving the old life you are leaving behind to embracing the joy and exhilaration of a new beginning.
- All growth involves risk, and not knowing what is next. You cannot create anew from the familiar. The more time you can spend lingering in the unfamiliar, the more expansive your life can become. Know new possibilities will continue to present themselves. Get out of your head more often and listen carefully with your heart which options feel most aligned with your truest, most authentic version of your self.
- Make time for play! The inner work of transforming a life can be grueling. Take breaks, find diversions, and experiment with new ways of being (and be forgiving of yourself when you make mistakes!).
Like an artist with a new paintbrush, keep dabbling in new expressions of life.
To learn more, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be placed on the notification list for when my related book is published.
In continued courage and expansive joy,
My talented photographer friend, Margaret Armstrong, took this picture of Gerber daises in her backyard. She then transformed the photo, using a reverse negative process, to portray the potential vibrancy of living that comes though the natural chaos of transition.
Originally published at www.supportmatters.com.