The COVID-19 pandemic lock down that began in March 2020 has had cascading effects on individuals and social fabric of our society.
We just beginning to sort out the true extent of the stress generated by the pandemic. Teachers found that keeping their jobs meant doing a completely different kind of job. People in business enjoyed the opportunity to work from home only to discover that they missed the sense of connection with coworkers. Numerous others lost their jobs and had to start over.
We all have our unique experiences of losses and disruptions as we transitioned into lockdown and then out of it much later. On top of all that, the pandemic played out inside an emotional petri dish of powerful political and social forces that polarized society. This resulted in splits in friend groups, divided families, and strained relationships. To call this a life transition simply does not do it justice.
As will all major transitions, the key is to go through it with the self-awareness that allows for good decision-making and stress management. It is this kind of self-awareness that grows in the soil of good therapy.
Midlife Crisis vs. Midlife Transition
Therapy can guide you to be in front of the changes before the transition becomes a crisis.
Despite the jokes that are made about midlife crisis, it is a life-change that is momentous for many people. Habits, routines, and roles that seemed normal for several years can suddenly become enormously burdensome. Even boredom can become excruciating.
Sometimes success triggers this restlessness. The coveted promotion leads to a realization that the new demands of success are not satisfying. Goals achieved give way to disappointment. Sometimes there is an additional layer of a divorce, major loss, or menopause.
Therapy shortens the time of recovery and rebuilding your new identity.
The emotional upheaval of a divorce is breathtaking in scale.
However, many people have blazed a trail through this intimidating wilderness. The wisdom, insights, tools, and other resources for rebuilding life after divorce is known as “divorce recovery.” Divorce recovery is a process like working through grief that can be done well or done poorly.
Going through divorce is often overwhelming because it includes a major shift in one’s identity. People experience profound self-doubts that whisper, "Now that I am divorced, who am I?"
One of the most distressing aspects of any identity change is that you have the constant feeling that you have lost your reference points. It feels like free-falling through a pitch-dark, vertical mine shaft. You know you are falling, but you don't know where you are or how long until you hit the bottom. The resulting changes are not only numerous, but they touch every area of life.
I have a lot of experience guiding people through this important transition. Contact me, and let’s discuss your needs and current timeline with divorce.
The problem with the empty nest is that it can makes you feel like you are falling out of the tree. Therapy can create a softer landing.
When the last child leaves home, it can precipitate all kinds of harrowing changes. It can force a complete re-examination of one’s social life, job, and sense of purpose. It can trigger a mid-life crisis of a marriage. Therapy can clarify a realistic pathway through the maze.
Having a Child
Therapy can free a woman to experience this transition as the adventure that it is, while managing the stress of change in her relationships and how she sees herself.
If pregnancy wasn’t challenging enough, giving birth to a first child is a major identity change for a woman. It is striking to me how often women underestimate the magnitude of this life change … until they are in the middle of it.
The profound joy doesn’t necessarily diminish the level of stress that comes with the numerous changes. If you add in post-partum depression or other stressors, you have all the makings of a major life transition. Therapy helps to prevent this important transition from sinking into a crisis.
Therapy can make relocation much less stressful.
Relocating to a new city usually comes with other big changes: a new job, a marriage, a divorce. When families relocate, the complexity of stress factors multiplies exponentially. Good therapy can harness the power of emotional intelligence to make the adjustment faster and easier.
Increasing your self-awareness can make the difference between good and poor decisions related to your career change. This is precisely what therapy can do for you.
I made a major career change myself to become a psychologist, so I have first-hand knowledge of the unique stresses of this life transition.
I have also walked with numerous people through the decision-making process that is so vital to successful career change. Also, there is usually a way to make a major career change without putting life on hold. When you can plan the career change, it becomes much easier to manage the stress effectively.
Promotion to Leadership
Becoming a manager for the first time is not only a professional transition, but it can be a major life transition when the weight of responsibility multiplies.
Sometimes the promotion to management is not any more difficult, but there is a strain because the environment doesn’t allow your unique strengths to shine. Not everyone makes this transition successfully. Of those who do, many do not enjoy the role. The type of therapy that I do for this type of transition involves:
- Assessing and increasing emotional intelligence relative to your personality type
- Learning how to shape your leadership role in a way that works for who you are
One of the most difficult challenges in a second marriage involves step-parenting. I have developed a very specific strategy for creating harmony in the home when families are blended together. It involves becoming a true friend to your step child before you attempt to take on any authority.
Many stepparents try to wield authority from day one. It feels right, especially when you feel protective of your spouse. The new stepdad shouts, “You can’t talk to your mother that way!” The result: alienation that takes days, weeks, or months to repair.
In contrast, the process I recommend for blended families mixes patience and skill with some very practical steps and tools.
Adult Son and Daughter Moving Back Home
Sometimes the empty nest transition gives way to an adult child moving back home. The cause may be dropping out of college, a relationship breakup, an illness, or some other crisis.
The stress of seeing your child’s suffering up close changes the whole atmosphere of your home. Turf wars and power struggles are common in these situations. Expectations are murky at best. The upheaval is a perfect recipe for family conflict. Parents start fighting more with each other because Mom and Dad can’t agree on how to set limits and provide support for their adult child.
The Big Picture for All Transitions
Increased emotional intelligence (EQ) is urgently needed during major transitions.
The challenging life transitions described above are some of the most common ones. Other major challenges include in-law relationships after the wedding, special situations involving grandparents, and many other life changes, planned and unplanned.
The worries, the stress, and the sleepless nights of major transitions are often topped with anger or uncertainty. These feelings need to be processed with compassion and understanding. Therapy helps with that deep ache in the heart when the speed of transition creates an emotional sonic boom in our minds.
But there is even more to consider.
If the present weren’t difficult enough, the decisions that affect the future are also of crucial importance. The emotional turmoil during these life changes sets us up for hasty, poor decisions…followed by deep regrets for years to come.
Therapy for life transitions works on the principle that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make better decisions; get through the maze faster.
There really is a smarter way to navigate major changes to have fewer regrets in the future.
I have had a lot of experience coaching people through major life transitions. I have developed an approach that leans heavily on recent research into emotional intelligence. One of my favorite tools is the EQ-I 2.0 test of emotional intelligence.
The great thing about knowing your emotional intelligence score is that it can be improved with time and attention.
And it certainly can be increased with good therapy. Contact me today, and let’s talk briefly about how therapy or coaching could make the difference in your life as you go through a time of transition and change.