Change! Such a loaded word. What comes to your mind when you think of the word change? Stop for a minute and try to answer that question. What types of feelings does it bring up in you? Hope, excitement, joy, or on the other hand, fear, anxiety, loss, or to make things more complicated, a combination of both?

I really like this anonymous quote “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely,” because I feel it very much encompasses the point I would like to make in this article. The online free encyclopedia Wikipedia contains the simplest definition: Change means the process of becoming different. In the Meriam-Webster dictionary’s change is to undergo transformation, transition, or substitution. Change implies altering, making either an essential difference often amounting to a loss of original identity or a substitution of one thing for another. It is important to understand that the human being is in constant process of change, either we like it or not. Control, plans and regimens, even though necessary aren’t more than illusions. Every minute and every day we are experiencing changes. Our bodies are changing and the world around us is changing. These changes are so common and subtle that we often do not notice they are occurring and most people don’t have trouble dealing with them.

Problems arise when change happens dramatically and/or unexpectedly. Disabling accidents, deaths of loved ones in our lives, divorce, loss of a job, an illness - all these developments mean that we have to leave something behind and adjust to a new way of living, although we do not feel fully prepared or may even have chosen it. These types of events if not handled in an appropriate manner can lead to a personal crisis. It should be noted that not all transitions emerge from negative experiences. Marriage, admission to the University, a new job, moving to a new city, the birth of a child, the reunion with an old friend are changes that bring good things to our lives. All these changes are part of natural process of life.

However, and from personal experience, I know that changes in life do not go smoothly all the time. But many times, especially when circumstances are hard, it is difficult for us to understand or consider the role of change in our lives. Far from being something to be feared and avoided (even the most difficult and painful), change gives us the opportunity to receive the miraculous gift of personal transformation. If we can keep this in mind our attitude and acceptance of the process of change will only become easier.

As William Bridges explains in detail in his book Transitions: Making sense of Life’s Changes, the process of change has 3 parts:

1. Conclusion or Closing: When a change occurs, we must leave behind our old definitions or conceptions of the world, our old ways of doing things, and this process is often so difficult that many times we resist, making things only worse.

2. "Neutral Zone:” Secondly there is a period where we feel disconnected. Many describe it as being "in limbo." We left the past but not yet connected to the present. This time is characterized by uncertainty, anxiety, and the temptation to return to the past, if possible.

3. New Principle: Finally, the new principle is really where our focus squarely on the new situation and in the future, we see the positive and try to adapt. During this stage there is a reassessment and reordering of our priorities and we will forge new mints.

Tips for a Healthy Transition or Change
Life can be easier and a natural source of more pleasurable changes if we increase our ability to plan and adapt.

1. Give yourself time. When a change happens, it takes time to reorient our inner world to the new reality. Although we may feel uncomfortable during a transition, is an invaluable time to use our creativity and strengths. But if we do not take time to adapt, we may lose this great opportunity for personal growth and redefinition of our being that any transition brings.

2. Rearrange your life as you need. Although transitions can be very disruptive, hang onto the parts of your life that give you comfort and security to help make the transition more bearable. When we feel secure we can make the task of the transition in a more productive way. Surround yourself with people and friends who offer their support and comfort you.

3. Tolerate the discomfort. Expect to experience moments of anxiety and insecurity. These feelings are a natural and important part of the process, but remember they are only temporary. Trust your own ability and not to resort to the use of tranquilizers and alcohol because that only interrupted the natural process of adjustment to change to make you stronger and more mature. Beam in front of your challenge with integrity!

4. Take care of yourself. Do something nice for you daily. Sleeps 6 to 8 hours a day and make sure you eat a healthy diet. Remember that when the stress level increases our immune system is weakened, therefore, a diet rich in vitamins is recommended. If you can, include daily exercise; a twenty-minute walk is all you need.

5. Assess your attitude. The most important change in a person’s life is his/her attitude. Whether a glass is half full or half empty depends on your attitude. Concentrate on cultivating a positive one.

6. Find the help you need. This is the perfect time to seek help from a trained professional therapist who can guide and support you during the process. The difference is that while support from friends is important - I recommend you avoid those who are only there to give you advice. Remember that your greatest need at this time is to explore your own feelings and find the truth that emerges from your own internal resources. Therapy provides a safe and productive way to analyze your interior and succeed to the transitions in our lives.

And remember that change is something you cannot avoid. The more you resist the more difficult it will be. I always ask my clients what happens if they want to hold a fist of sand and they close their fingers strongly?. Answer: the sand escapes through your fingers, they say. Ok… so what do you have to do if you want the sand to stay on your palm? Answer: Open up the palm and stay still. Good luck!

Author's Bio: 

Isabel is a Bilingual (English & Spanish) Mental Health counselor psychotherapist offering face-to-face services in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and online counseling worldwide. She works with individuals, couples, and groups from different backgrounds and situations, helping them not only to solve their problems but also to have more fulfilling lives.

To learn more about Isabel visit