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Life Transitions

Updated: May 3

Written by: Sara de Souza, MSW, RSW

Psychotherapist & Social Worker

We all have them. Transitional points in our life when we must make a decision to move forward and continue in a new direction. But, what guides us down this new path? Forging ahead can create stress as it may initially feel like a loss of some kind, precipitating strong emotions. Some examples of situations people face may include: difficulties within relationships, being let go from/quitting a job, losing a loved one or friend or receiving a health diagnosis or witnessing someone else’s loss. So, how can we cope during times of high stress?

There is a saying that “what we resist, persists”. Often, when considering making a change our minds may bring up “what if” questions. These “what ifs” never actually get answered and so the feared situation may be continuously avoided in what our brain thinks is problem solving when in reality it is the opposite. The case of the “what ifs” is akin to standing infront of the bridge but never actually crossing and instead questioning whether the bridge even exists when we cannot see the solution right in front of us. The “bridge” is the “if…then…”. So, whenever your mind starts asking “what if…[insert fear]” replace it with “if..[fear], then [anticipated response]. You may need to really drill down to see what your core need or assumption is behind your fears. This is where psychotherapy can benefit you as well if necessary or if the process seems overwhelming. If your anticipated response is not a healthy or safe action then perhaps its time to take a look at your other options.

A tool to explore other options may include the decisional balance. You can try this out next time you feel stuck about making a decision. If you believe that the situation is more complex and brings up a lot of strong emotions, you may be struggling with an event that has activated some core needs that are going unmet. We all have core needs such as the need for acceptance, fulfillment, love, friendship, safety, etc. When these needs go unmet for too long they can impact our sense of self-esteem and confidence and potentially precipitate unwanted anxiety, depression or further mental health concerns.





Luckily, when we have the tools to explore difficult life transitions and healthy support systems, change is possible. If your support systems are causing more stress than support, I would encourage you to reflect on how you navigate these and whether these are helping or hurting your progress. At times, it may require honest reflection and being assertive about your needs while also respecting that the people closest to us may not always be the people that we need for all situations. In the very least, believe that change is possible and so is growth. Give yourself permission to take one small step in the direction of your choosing and let the rest follow. Be kind to yourself and never give up because you never know what the future has in store! If you need support for life transitions and would like to contact One Elephant to explore your options we are here for you!

If you're looking for more individualized support with your mental health, book a visit with Sara. Sara offers both in-person and virtual visits at this time.


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