What are you leaving behind? This is the question I was left pondering after reading Bill Bridges excellent book ‘The Way of Transition‘. In it Bridges describes his personal experience of a major life transition and how he learned transitions are more about what we leave behind than what we add. According to Bridges, most people face a transition with denial. They resist change, hoping life will return to normal or they try to get through the change as quickly as possible.
Getting in our own way
Either approach is flawed. When we hope for the life we had, we are only prolonging the painful process of change. There is no normal to go back to and instead we find ourselves lost. We are looking for something that doesn’t exist. In this case it is easy to fall into a mood of resentment about what we have lost that was never ours in the first place. It was just a moment in our life journey.
When we try to accelerate the process, it is easy to change external things and ignore what needs to change inside. We might change jobs, believing the new one will provide what we are missing. Sometimes that works but often we find ourselves back in the same situation. Instead of growing, we’ve just rearranged the furniture.
A different approach
The alternative is to sit with the question, ‘what are we leaving behind’? This is a question I am wrestling with. I don’t have any answers yet and I sense the process is more important than the outcome. I guess we are never done, it is a part of the journey.