Are you moving on or running away? : Eight keys to navigate life transitions

Are-you-moving-on-or-running-away

Transitions are never easy. We’re often faced with them after a season of stability and apparent ‘safety’, and this means the idea of rolling the dice on a new adventure, relationship or experience, is terrifying.

Transitions provide us with three options: stay where we are, leap into a new experience, or run away. If you’re a self-doubter like me, you may even sway between two or three of these options, unsure what the next step is. You may doubt your motives, your readiness, or be in complete denial about what the next step in your life should be.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer in transition. Each of us will respond differently when they arise, and the best and healthiest course of action will vary. Often, the answer lies in our ability to recognise whether we are running away from a situation or if we’re naturally moving on to something new.

Are you in a period of transition? I sure am, and these are eight questions I’ve asked myself to assess my best course of action for my future.

  1. Am I afraid of the future?

Sometimes, the fear of the unknown and what may go wrong (or right) keep us from moving into a new phase of life.  We can all take steps to prepare for the future, but there comes a time when we need to take a risk and move forward. Don’t let fear hold you back.

  1. Am I afraid of staying still?

Perpetual transition and the inability to put down roots is the trademark of someone who is afraid to stay still in life. If you’re afraid of what life could be like if you stopped and invested in relationships, a community or a business, then it may be time to stop running and plant yourself for a season.

  1. Am I afraid for the safety of my loved ones or myself?

One of the most common transitions comes when we step out of a relationship. In any long-term or marriage relationship, it’s important you see a counsellor (preferably with your partner) as it’s always preferential that you save a relationship rather than break up.

BUT if you fear for your safety and the emotional wellbeing of yourself and your family, it is time for you to leave. Call it running away or moving on—it makes no difference when your wellbeing is involved.

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse or violence, call 1800-RESPECT.

  1. Do I have commitment issues?

If you’re scared of being in a long-term relationship, you’ll consistently run away from anyone that threatens your independence. Sometimes this happens before a relationship can evolve, and other times you’ll casually date or hook up before the other person asks for a commitment and you run for the hills. Don’t be in denial about it. You are allowed to live a single, happy independent life, but if you’re living it out of fear of committing to a single person it’s time to do some work on yourself.

  1. What are my responsibilities?

Whether you’re moving on or running away from responsibility—and whether you should—will largely depend on what they are. Responsibility for your loved ones, especially children, will always come first. Sacred responsibilities like this should never be run from, just nurtured so you feel supported in the process.

However, if your responsibilities are work related, or are tied to unhealthy family or relationship attachments, then a different course of action may be required. Unrealistic expectations that negatively infringe on your health, happiness and the people around you shouldn’t be adhered to.

You need to move on from these responsibilities, either by seeking new employment, gaining external support through a counsellor, or changing your routine so you live a healthier and happier lifestyle.

  1. Am I prepared?

Are you prepared to stand still and fight for your relationship? Are you willing to take a leap of faith and make a new life for yourself with a new job, relationship or community? Are you ready to leave the pain of the past behind?

Preparation isn’t just physical; it’s emotional too. If you’re willing to make an emotional commitment to the next (or current) phase in your life, you’re ready to take the next step.

  1. Who am I doing this for?

Irrespective of whether you stay, run or move on, the people you do it for will determine how healthy the transition is. Committing to a relationship or working on a current one are both risks worth your time—they are about your happiness, and the happiness of the people around you.

However, if you’re basing your next life transition on the unhealthy expectations of others or unrequited love, believing you will be more ‘whole’ if you take this step, you need to stop and reassess. Who you are is enough, and transition is about becoming more ‘you’, not proving yourself to others.

  1. What do I want?

What do you want for your life? Do you want safety, security and a place to belong? Or maybe you want to live an adventurous and exhilarating life, full of unexpected moments and people. How you answer this question will help you determine if you need to stay, take a leap of faith or move on to something new.

Are you going through a life transition? Are you running away from something or need support to save a relationship? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

5 Steps to Transition from Rescuer to Helper

5-Steps-to-Transition-from-Rescuer-to-Helper

Image courtesy of bplanet / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are some people in the world who are wired to be ‘rescuers’. They see injustice, illness and pain and want to help people who are struggling. Ideally they desire to ‘save’ others and erase all conflict. Rescuers play an important function in society. They are the voices of the silenced and the stigmatised, and they are our friends when we need a helping hand. We can each identify with the need to be helped and supported by someone in such a way throughout our lives.

I have seen rescuers in action many times in my life. Growing up with parents who worked as leaders in the church, it was not unusual to have visitors and borders in our house. I have friends who have housed people with addictions, loved people without family and provided for those without a safe place to sleep. Observing this has radically altered my perception of how I treat people. I understand that it is important we actively care for one another and walk through our struggles in a community environment; but these experiences have also taught me that rescuing people can come at great cost. It has left me to tussle with the tension between helping others in a healthy capacity and rescuing them from a situation I have no control over.

As a rescuer I am familiar with the urge to save others, but I am also well acquainted with the burn out that can follow. Here are 5 steps I have picked up that have helped me transition from the role of ‘Rescuer’ to ‘Helper’.

1. Set your boundaries

This simple step is often the hardest to accomplish. When you see a friend in need, consider your current living situation before providing them with accommodation, money or time. Reflect on social expectations surrounding gender and age appropriate interactions, and think of the people you live with. It is important to help your friend, but it is vital you remember the responsibility you have to yourself and those relying on you before you provide for them in any way.

2. Learn to say no

Saying “yes” to every request seems like a practical means of helping others, but learn to consider your availability before you agree to everything. Sure, you can make sacrifices to help others, but if it infringes on your personal relationships, work life or your health then your rescuing behaviour is coming at too great an expense to yourself and those around you. Learn to say no to the things you cannot and should not deliver on. Doing this doesn’t make you a bad person, it means you are wise.

3. Watch for progress

It is well and good to invite a friend to couch surf until they find a job, but conflict will arise if they do not meet this expectation in a timely manner. If a friend relies on you for something crucial like accommodation or transport, set a date for when they will meet their goals and your service to them will finish. It can also be beneficial to consider a ‘trial period’ where you and they are able to air out any grievances you may have before deciding on a long term arrangement. If your friend is not showing progress as in they are no longer looking for work or accommodation; they are not ‘pulling their weight’ either financially and/or in house work; or they continue to live with the same habits that caused this situation without an effort to change; then you seriously need to consider whether you can support this person in such a capacity anymore. If your effort to rescue is enabling them to become co-dependent on you, you need to draw the line and stop helping them. Sometimes this will mean changing how you interact, and other times it will mean you cut off interaction all together.

4. Refer them to professional help

As a friend, it is not your job to provide someone with complete emotional, medical, financial and physical support. It is virtually impossible to provide this to a person on a whim when you already have responsibilities and a family who may depend on you. It is okay to spend time with your friend, but you should not be their counsellor. Suggest professional services to them and help them research opportunities for assistance; perhaps even drive your friend to an appointment. Let your friend know that you will support them in this proactive behaviour because it will better enable them to live a healthy and fulfilling life. By referring them to a professional, you are relieving yourself of the pressure to save this person when you are not able to do so. You are also equipping them with the skills they need to function independently of you.

5. Realise it is not your responsibility to save someone

You are able to provide your friend with all the support in the world, but if they don’t want to heal or change- they won’t. As a ‘helper’ it is your responsibility to provide your friend with moral support and professional resources so they can work towards change in their own life. It is not your responsibility to have your friend decide to attend a counselling appointment or to enter rehab. Just because a person doesn’t improve or show an ability to change immediately doesn’t mean they won’t in the future; but you are not responsible for their actions and the pain it may cause them. If you believe a friend is in crisis, call 000 or 911 and seek out professional support. You are simply a bridge to the help they need should they choose to take this path to change.

Do you try to rescue people at the expense of your own wellbeing? Perhaps you want to help others but struggle to draw your boundaries? If you would like assistance in this challenging process you can call Watersedge for a FREE 10 minute consultation on 0434 337 245. If you would like to make an appointment to see us, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

Transitions: 5 Steps to Help You Leave Home

Moving_forwards_by_captivatedimagesIn this article, Journalist and Guest Blogger Jessica Morris reflects on, and gives valuable advice about the process of leaving home, both from the perspective of the young person and their parent.

Leaving home is a natural step in the process of growing up. Aside from the obvious act of physically leaving your parent’s house, there is a progression prior to this. Getting your driver’s license and then a car stretches the bond a teen has with their parent; they are given a sense of independence. Likewise, when a teen gets a job and their own income, this also alters the parent/child relationship dramatically. And after the child leaves school, there is an innate sense that they are free to do as they choose. After a while, the young adult feels as though they are a boarder in their parent’s house. They may still rely on their parents in times of trouble, but they are now able to facilitate their own life. Therefore, the act of moving away from home routinely follows these steps.

A young adult will be excited to live their own life, but may be unprepared for the realities of true adulthood. As someone who “left the nest” relatively late, 23 years old to be exact, I have had to adjust to becoming totally independent as I moved across the globe. Aside from the normal pressures of moving away from home, I have also had to adjust to a new community, a new residence and a new job. While I am still adjusting to life in Florida, there are five things I have found fundamental during my transition from home. I believe many of these also reflect the changes and challenges other young adults go through. So for all the parents who are concerned for your ‘babies' welfare, take note of these points and young adults, read these and allow yourself to relax. Transition is always difficult, but these five steps might make it a little easier.

1. Stay in contact with home

This may sound simple, but the balancing act of investing in the lives of your friends and family while also developing your new life is a challenge you will constantly juggle. Make time to contact those you are close too. It will be difficult, but fight to keep the relationships that matter. You will inevitably lose contact with some people, this is normal. Don’t allow yourself to become bitter about this; it is a natural part of life.
Parents don't force your relationship; let your child initiate contact. Give them the space they need to start their own life. Begin to develop an adult relationship rather than one purely reliant on your care of them.

2. Develop new relationships
Moving away from your community can be lonely, so make a point to reach out to new people. Housemates, colleagues, sports teams or church groups are excellent ways to meet likeminded people. Step out and purposely develop relationships. This is a new chapter in your life, embrace it.

3. Take time for you
Each person’s experience when moving away will be different. Some will have all the basic skills down pat, but will struggle emotionally. Others may be unable to cook or do their washing, but still be quite content away from home. Give yourself the time to feel these emotions, try to stretch yourself and develop new skills.
Parents, the fact your child may still rely on you for meals, washing and even finances is to be expected, but have boundaries.  Remember as much as this move is about your child's independence, it is also about yours. Teach your child the skills they need, and schedule times to catch up over dinner.

4. Be realistic
The prospect of leaving home can be romantic and full of adventure, but try to stay level headed. Do you have the finances to live away from your parents? Do you need roommates? Consider what you will eat and if you will cook, and don’t assume moving in with your friends means there will be no conflict. Be prepared for the challenges that will come, stretch and ready yourself for them as best you can.
Parents, there will be times your child needs your support whether this be emotionally, physically or financially. Let them know you are available and to what capacity you can give them this, but don’t coddle them. Allow them to make mistakes, let them create their own budget (or lack of). Allow them to ask for help.  At times it may feel like you are watching a car wreck, but this is all a part of the experience your child wants and needs.

 5. Be kind to yourself
You can plan the move from home down to precise details, but you cannot guarantee how things will pan out. There will be nights you feel more emotional, allow yourself to cry. There will be days your body freaks out, you will dramatically add or lose weight and may find yourself displaying symptoms of stress or anxiety. This is okay. You are establishing a new life for yourself; it is going to take some time to adjust. Ride this as best you can and learn new habits to keep yourself healthy.
Parents don’t stress or panic, your child will be fine. Remember you went through this process too.

About Jessica Morris

 Jessica Morris is a 22 year-old free-lance journalist living near Melbourne, Australia. Passionate about pop culture and how this intersects with mental health, faith and social justice; she seeks represent this generation within the media. You can view her work at www.jessicamorris.net.
If you would like to know more about how to navigate your present transition experience or need support as you experience your own transition contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.

 

Transitions – Letting Go

I have been going through a transition that I am almost on the other side of as I write this blog article. For a number of years I have dreamt of having my own ‘stand alone' private practice as a Counsellor and Family Therapist. Today I am finally sitting in my own office in Geelong where I will now conduct Watersedge Counselling from. I am noticing that I still have a little adjusting to do. My new space does not feel entirely my own yet. It is like I need to settle in and establish a relationship  with  it. This is somewhat surprising to me because I anticipated that I would feel at home immediately. I am brought back to the knowledge that my transition is not quite complete yet.

It takes time to ‘let go' of the old in order to embrace the new. I was reminded only recently as I sat with a couple who had transitioned to a new space in their relationship that to complete any transition, no matter how positive that process is, you must leave behind and let go of something that is familiar. To do so implies that there will be a grief process where you need to review what you have ‘let go' of and why that was so, in order to move on.

As I have pondered my  present transition experience, I have thought about some of the things you may need to let go of and the reasons why you must let go to be able to transition well.


Letting go of relationships evokes conflicting emotions

You might feel sadness, pain, anger, guilt, regret or you may feel freedom, relief and pleasure. It is more likely that you will feel a mixture of both positive and negative emotions as you separate from that relationship. 
Sometimes the transition has been initiated by a relationship that has become toxic to either one or both of you. Even when the relationship has been a painful one, you will experience feelings of loss and devastation and wonder whether you did all you could to try and save it. Talking these feelings through to give you clarity will allow you to let go and make a strong transition. 

 

Letting go can be about the need to survive

When you no longer have the physical, emotional and/or mental energy that you need to ‘hold on' to a relationship, pursuit or interest you realise that you have to let go to have some energy to look after your own needs. This can be incredibly painful for everyone involved. Feelings of loss, rejection, failure and guilt can follow you unless you take the time to talk about them and find closure.



Letting go of dreams

Dreams of the way you had hoped things might have been but  never eventuated have to be let go. Those hopes and dreams may have been necessary to survival however there comes a time when you have to let go to transition to a new place. Talking about your feelings, the broken promises, and broken dreams as well as the memories you cherish is important for you to be able to let go and move on.



Letting go can be initiated by circumstances

Circumstances where you have made the decision to relocate for work or family reasons, leaving the people you worked or socialised with, behind. When you are eager to move on or have had to do so quite suddenly, it is understandable that closure of relationships does not always happen. Sometimes you are just simply preoccupied with the business of relocating. Other times there are other emotions that you find too difficult to acknowledge to the people you leave behind. Understanding and acknowledging your experience and where possible, saying goodbye to significant people is important for a good transition.


Ritual is a great way to fully let go and transition strongly. Ritual gives closure to the experience and/or relationship you are letting go of. There is no one way of doing ritual because ritual is a very personal experience that holds unique meaning for the person who participates in it. You can create your own ritual, as long as it holds meaning and provides closure to your experience.

Whatever the nature and purpose of your transition, give attention to what you have let go of and how you acknowledge it. By doing this, you ensure that moving forward will be a smoother transition. If you would like to know more about how to navigate your present transition experience or need support as you experience your own transition contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.