Transitions and Transformations

As I sit here this beautiful sunny morning in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., I see again a very special bird that has been hovering around my home for the last three weeks.  It is a starling that appears to be alone.  Sometimes it calls very loudly and the call can be haunting.

I am used to seeing starlings flocks in their amazing formations and several of them together.  This little bird is without its ‘tribe, ’ and seems somewhat distraught, calling out for the others in the flock.

Transitions

I don’t know how that bird ended up alone and distressed, but I do know one thing.

We all face transitions in life.

Some of these transitions can be due to choices we make or they can be involuntary. The involuntary ones, such as loss of a job, the ending of a relationship, an injury or illness can be challenging to say the least.

What I had not realized was how ALL transitions – even ones that you choose yourself – have their challenges.

In the last year, I have been through a major life transition.  I left the home and the

Seattle area community I have lived in for 22 years.  I moved away from my adult children and left my 30-year practice as a therapist.

I was surprised at my lack of energy and fatigue when I first made the move.  Yes, three moves in a year could have been the cause, yet I had not anticipated how loneliness could play a part.

It has now been five months since my relocation and I have learned several things about transitions in the process.

Some transitions can be harder than others. We have an innate need to belong to a ‘tribe. ’, and we all have a need for connection. I know this, but even I underestimated the impact of missing my ‘tribe’.

I have now discovered some kindred spirits in my new city and am growing more accustomed to my new situation.  I feel a new sense of calm and joy, and an evolving connection with my new community.

Transformation

Transformation can be induced or spontaneous.  It is a metamorphosis that often starts with a transition.

During my career I have supported hundreds of people through transitions.  These transitions can often lead to an exploration of what really matters in our lives, and how our self-image beliefs can limit our vision of ourselves.

The redefinition of who we are and how we have viewed ourselves can be transformative. These transformations can start with examining what we really value in life and develop as we move in that direction.

Many of our struggles with anxiety and stress are a result of living a life that is inconsistent with our values.

A good way to really examine your values is to imagine ‘The Perfect Day. ’  Where would you be, who would you be with, what would you do from start to finish? If you envision being outdoors, having an deep conversation, reading, dancing, listening to music, creating art, writing, being intimate with a partner, whatever it is…THESE things are what you VALUE.  Look at how you can live your life to be more consistent with these values.  How can you LIVE and TRANSFORM into the resilient being that you are….that we ALL are.

As a therapist, a teacher and a mentor to other therapists it has been very

fulfilling to help others along in their transformations.

I am now enthusiastically shifting my professional focus to two favorite aspects of my work: hypnosis and health coaching.

There are many studies that show the impact on connection and relationship on one’s health. One of the reasons that we have such a huge rise in health problems in the U.S. is that American culture promotes independence and self-reliance.  The ability to shift our cultural standards to value interdependence and connection is a key to wellness.

The loud call of the little bird this morning is a reminder of the importance for connection and support.

Deeper Lessons

One of the unexpected benefits of transitions is the shift in our self-perception.  We may learn that being forced to move to a new community, or alter our life in a major way can help us discover a new and richer self.  Our self-definition can broaden to encompass much greater things in life.  Perhaps things we have always valued but thought we had to wait for have suddenly become more attainable.

Transitions in life can often present opportunities to face fear and self-doubt.  Reaching out for support, coaching, community is especially important in making transitions become transformative.

The little bird that had caught my eye was chirping in unison with two other birds this afternoon.  Somehow, the longing and despair in the bird’s call had vanished.

Bonnie Bhatti, PhD, LICSW, CHT by INDIGO DOG