The Power of the Pause in Transitions
Image of leaf-covered tree branches reaching down toward a pool of blue water, the shadow of the branches visible in the water. A sliver of the dark trunk frames the left side, and the shore of the pond is visible through the leaves.
I’ve been working with a client who is in their last couple of months in a high-responsibility job they have been in for many years. In addition to talking about the roles they wanted to be playing in supporting the staff and the organization in this transition, we’ve been digging into what they need as they are transitioning from this into the next phase.
We’ve been talking about how we let go and move on, in healthy ways.
That’s not always easy.
I see this challenge with many clients – individuals, relationships, teams, organizations.
When we try to move from something we’ve been immersed in for a long time to something else, it can be painfully difficult, whether it’s big shifts in work, relationships, geography, identity, or something else.
If you are navigating such a change, I want to invite you to consider the power of the pause.
Many of us move directly from one big thing into the next. Sometimes, we have no choice about that – we need the money, or we are leaving because we got another exciting opportunity that we need to start immediately. Sometimes, as with this client, we are not clear about what we want next and can take time to sort it out.
Either way, we need a pause.
When we are extracting ourselves from a situation we’ve been part of for a long time, we have our tendrils in deep; it’s going to take time, and intentional practices, to shift from being a part of that old thing, and having our identity in part defined by it, to being somewhere else, and defining ourselves in some other way.
This doesn’t mean we need to take a year off and backpack Europe, or retreat to a mountain cabin to meditate – though either of those things might be wonderful :-).
It means we need to consciously pause and release the old before we try to move into the new.
There are lots of ways to do this. I want to offer you a couple of possibilities.
1. Before you leave the old thing, practice stepping away, and looking at it from afar.
🔹 Here is a link to an audio recording where I guide you through one way to do that:
2. Either after you have made the transition out of what you are leaving behind, or while you are still in it, but in moments when you do not need to be thinking about it, create structures that help you focus on being where you are right now – NOT about moving into the new thing yet, about pausing, right here, in the moment. Some structures you might experiment with:
🔹 Use this very short silver rain process to let go of thoughts or feelings about the old stuff when they show up. (This is my first video! I'm excited to be trying out that format for creating useful content.)
🔹 Take yourself to places that have qualities of the place you created/went to in your mind in the process in the first video (water? trees? sun?), and spend time there just taking in those qualities.
🔹 Practice noticing what delights you/brings you joy - little stuff, big stuff. It can help to make a list. It helps to set up a ritual to look back at your day and notice when you found delight, so you encourage your mind to start looking for those things.
🔹 Consciously choose to spend time doing things that feel expansive or new that are NOT about finding or transitioning to the big new thing that you are moving into or need to identify.
These ways of practicing expansiveness will help you let go of your attachments to what you are leaving.
They will also open you up to new possibilities as you transition into the new thing, or think about what that new thing might be. (Moving too quickly to immerse yourself in that new focus will likely cause contraction instead of expansion.)
You can use these same tools anytime you are feeling stuck in old ways of seeing or experiencing something - whether you are in an external transition or not.
They can help create space for new ways of being with whatever is going on, and build your capacity to invite change.
If you want some support exploring the pause and other strategies for creating and navigating change, I am offering a six week coaching group starting October 12th.
You’ll find details on the Offerings page.