Today marks an end of a chapter for me.
As my involvement in a project I have been part of for the past 18 months is drawing to a close, I am re-focusing my energy and attention to private practice – Psychotherapy, clinical supervision and speaking about both. It’s a curious type of work, and has taught me an awful lot about myself, others, organisations; and it often served a great compass in navigating the sometimes stormy waters of life events.
I have spent the past few weeks reflecting on what this chapter ending means. It’s been an interesting process both on a personal and professional level. And as the day draws into a close I am also reminded that there is also a much bigger process going on with the UK’s departure from the European Union coming to effect today, which has created a flurry of activity on social media with quite a polarised set of reactions.
All of this got me thinking about transitions, and what it triggers.
Sink or Swim, right?
Well, to a degree… When we are faced with a new situation, a new chapter, I think it is incredibly important to give it a go. Make an effort. A real effort. Not a signalling, sort of see-how-hard-I’m-trying effort. In saying that, if you don’t know how to swim, you will most likely drown from exhaustion. Part of the transition needs to be swimming lessons. In whatever river you are looking to cross. And when you get to land, you can always re-evaluate. We don’t always get to decide what river to cross, but we have some control in choosing how to. As Viktor Frankl quotes goes: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Change is good, right?
Well, it can be… but it is not always the case, and it is definitely not always experienced as such. If all change is good, why the resistance? If all change is good, easy, organisation will be functioning like Swiss clocks when change is implemented. And the journey…can be costly, messy, painful. So having a plan is a good idea. Something that outlines timelines and activities. Not necessarily a detailed level Project plan, but something you can measure progress against. I am reminder of one of my all time favourites quotes from Thomas Edison “a vision without action is hallucination”.
You just have to stay positive, right?
Well, to a degree (you must be getting the gist of this). I have a long standing grievance with positive psychology. Optimism is great. It is incredibly valuable to identify and account for your resources. Expressing gratitude is wonderful for your well being and people around you. Employing healthy productive habits of self care, both psychologically and physically (like food, exercise) are crucial. But it is also important to listen to the shadow: our fears, our frustration, the struggle. They also need attention. If you attend to what is not right, you might be able to put it right. It is often said that customer complaints are often the best source of innovation. If you ignore it, you might get lucky, or depressed, or out of business.
The space in between
There is an important space between these opposing sides of the spectrum, and that space is transition. Where it is not quite an ending, nor fully started. Where something has commenced but nut quite working. When the experience is both good and bad, joyful and not so. That space, can be a very creative, a rich place from which to springboard to the next chapter. One that accounts for the fullness of life and what it throws at us, be it personal, professional or political.
I love your reflection here on change especially the need to acknowledge the both the positive and the negative sides, as it is often as you say that it is in the darkness or the space between that the source of creative change can emerge. Yet this asks of us courage.