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spike bullet March 2011: Dealing with Change: Lifeís Natural Transition Points

The Shadow of the Parents
Creating New Rites of Passage
What Happens Next?
Life Transitions Four - Mid-life Spiritual Crisis
A Period of Adjustment ~ The Project Change Cycle
How to cope with sudden and unexpected change
Resources (links, books, articles, the lighter side)
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color bulletMarch 2011: Dealing with Change: Lifeís Natural Transition Points

There have been many ways of describing the regular and expected changes that occur throughout each personís life.  We are born and are completely dependent on our parents, we start to gain independence as we learn to walk, we grow into youngsters and teenagers then learn to move further out into the world, we grow into adulthood and may create our own family, we pursue our lifeís work, we retire and we die.

It all sounds so simple when stated that way.  

Knowing the phases of life and what might be expected can help us deal with the natural and normal changes we may find in front of us at any time.  If we know in advance that we might stumble around without knowing where to go and that is a natural part of reaching adulthood, would that help to make our life easier?  Perhaps.

In her new book, Spiritual Turning Points: A Metaphysical Perspective of the Seven Life Transitions, Victoria Marina-Tompkins tackles just this subject: the 7 natural life transitions that everyone experiences and what we might expect from each of them.  Victoria blends information from many years of working with people with information from many different disciplines to provide insights into how life works and how to cope with the various stages.

The following excerpted section is from the end of the chapter "Life Transition Three ~ Adolescence and Independence of Spirit" and the beginning of the chapter "Life Transition Four ~ Mid-life Spiritual Crisis."

. . . beginning of book excerpt . . .

The Shadow of the Parents (end of chapter "Life Transition Three ~ Adolescence and Independence of Spirit")

The parental shadow is a phenomenon that occurs with each generation.  The parent generation has its own theme and the children of that generation have a theme that is in direct contrast to their parents, expressing the shadow or unconscious of the previous generation.  One of the best examples is the baby boomers from the 1950s who grew up with parents of the Great Depression/model citizens who, when coming of age, became the peace-and-free-love generation of the 1960s.  The children of the free-love generation then had children who expressed anger and disillusionment, shadow of the Age of Aquarius parents.  On the other side of the coin, some of these Gen X children, now adults, are ultraconservative, also expressing the shadow of the parents.  I think this is a continuous rebalancing of energies, allowing for the polar opposites to be expressed and no one theme remains dominant for too long.  Uranus would be proud!

Creating New Rites of Passage

Some families are creating new rites of passage for the third transition.  Rather than ignoring their young teensí surge toward early freedom, they are creating personal rituals to mark and honor the transition into young adulthood.  Young men meet with their fathers and other men where they are introduced into full manhood after reaching puberty while young women enjoy a goddess circle with mothers and other females who honor them as daughters.  There is a return to nature-based celebrations of the Solstice and Equinox and other seasonal turning points that respect nature and the wheel of the year as it turns.  Attention to the natural cycles also encourages acceptance of the natural cycles in a human life, the life transitions.

Young adults may prefer to create their own rituals and once in the throes of this monad, are not often open to suggestions from their parents if they have not been present for ongoing traditions during childhood.  Those who have participated in weekly family dinners with extended family in the mix are more likely to continue with them although somewhat sporadically as social desires take precedence over family responsibilities.  Older teens may create their own rites by moving in with a boyfriend or girlfriend prematurely according to their parents who would have preferred they wait until marriage or at least until they knew each other a little longer.  The new version of the Friday night party has become going to the newest rock concert or camping out for the weekend.

When a young adult becomes disenfranchised, it becomes difficult to involve him in family or social events not only because there can be little interest in what the family or community has to offer, but also because of the influence of substance abuse or other destructive behaviors.  Keeping an open heart and mind may be one solution with the message "We are always here for you" as the mantra that the teenager hears even if he is unable or unwilling to respond.  You never know when there will be a knock at the door or a plea for help.  Keeping healthy parental boundaries is imperative here when a family member is caught up in a cycle of self-abuse, but the underlying message is of love and support.

What Happens Next

The years following the completion of the third transition are usually a time of stepping out into the world for the now young adult.  All life experiences to date will be drawn upon to develop the foundation for the life work that will begin in earnest after the completion of the fourth monadal transition, but at this time following the third, the now twenty-five ó or thirty-year-old ó begins to make his way into official adulthood after leaving adolescence behind.  For those who remain stuck in the transition, progress may be stinted as frustration, anger and resentment build or conversely depression and substance abuse may increase.  Regardless, once a person reaches the age of thirty, the expectations increase in terms of making a mark in the world on both a personal and social level.  No longer is much leeway given from bosses and others in charge as they now expect performance, reliability and accountability.

With much of life ahead, dreams may begin to become reality as personal structures such as marriage and children are created.  For those who are more self-directed, the late twenties and early to mid-thirties can be a time for building a fledgling business or traveling.  The underlying feeling is that itís time to do something as the now-adult begins to answer the question, "What am I going to do with my life?"  If the transition has ended in the positive then there can be tremendous energetic momentum at this point that will move him to the next level in development, a phase that will continue until the beginning of the next transition that will begin in the later part of the fourth decade if all goes according to plan.

(beginning of chapter "Life Transition Four ~ Mid-life Spiritual Crisis")

If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into.

óSaint Theresa of Lisieux, Nineteenth-Century Carmelite Nun

The years following the completion of the third transition are filled with new experiences as the young adult ventures into the world, building foundations for home, work, relationships and leisure-time activities.  This is usually a period of excitement as ideas are implemented, doors are opened, new relationships begin and the life moves forward at lightning speed.  All seems right in the world.  

Then, somewhere between the ages of thirty-five and forty, a feeling of discomfort begins to creep into what has become an idyllic life in many ways, a dissatisfaction that is perplexing.  Or a sudden event such as losing a job, divorce or other family issues may provoke changes that are not welcomed and spin the now full-fledged adult into a vortex of self-questioning.  Resisting these new problems, itís common to try to keep it all together, maintaining external appearances but facing sleepless nights, worry, fear and anxieties which are rooted in what will soon become a mid-life crisis, a time when what isnít working becomes unavoidably clear even if what to do about it isnít.

St. John of the Cross, a Roman Catholic mystic of the sixteenth century, called this process "the dark night of the soul" in his poem "La Noche Oscura del Alma."  He described how the soul must face hardships on a journey through the dark night in order to separate from worldly concerns and eventually reunite with God.  During this dark journey, comforts that before would bring solace no longer work; prayer, meditation and time with loved ones feel empty and without meaning.  It is as if God has abandoned you.  Night and day blend together and there is little respite from feelings of loneliness and desperation, which may appear as depression and isolation or as a lack of energy or interest in life.

. . . end of book excerpt . . .

A Period of Adjustment ~ The Project Change Cycle

Some of you might be wondering what this book excerpt has to do with the workplace.  Since every workplace is filled with people, at any given time, one or many people are going to be dealing with their own personal "dark night of the soul" ó that time when nothing seems right and a time of wondering, "Why is my life falling apart and why should I care?"  If they can't concentrate their energy and resources due to their own personal life transition issues, how can they focus their attention on a business project effectively?

Managing people or projects requires some understanding of human nature in order to be successful.  And, like individual people, projects have their own natural cycle of transitions.

The "Dark Night of the Soul" or "Mid-Life Crisis" phase is classically faced during any project requiring significant change, as shown in this graphic:

Itís the time when everything about the new project is rejected and it may seem as if it will never be successful.  If managed properly with compassion and understanding of what the cycle means, and if appropriate training, information and support is provided for members of the project, the project will be successful if given the necessary time to work through the issues that arise.  As the new information is absorbed and issues are resolved, people have the means to understand what is expected of them and they will eventually be even more successful than they were before they started the project.

This is true in our personal lives as well.  Once we get past the 4th life transition described in Victoriaís book, we are much more confident of our own abilities and we go on to achieve our lifeís work.

In some ways, our country and our world is going through a "Dark Night of the Soul" phase right now.  Life all around us is changing at a rapid pace with no one sure what is going to happen next.

Our world economy has been going through a serious change and readjustment over the past few years and no one really knows yet what is on the other side.  The Financial Services industry in particular is being restructured and we are not yet confident that the right formulas are in place for the future.  There is no going back to what was before, however.  We can only go forward.  

In international affairs in recent weeks, the people of Tunisia revolted and overthrew their ruler of more than 20 years, the Egyptian people overthrew their ruler of the past 30 years and who knows what might happen in Libya.  New Zealand has just experienced a huge earthquake with significant damage, a continuation of large earthquakes that started a few months ago.  Volcanoes in various parts of the world have been rumbling.

Where ever in the world we live, we are affected by happenings elsewhere in the world, just as we are affected by other people in our personal life and in our workplace.

How to cope with sudden and unexpected change

First, remember that "change"  is a natural part of life.  Things change ~ they start, they grow, they develop, they die and something else shows up.

When something unexpected happens, take a few minutes to remember that you have survived significant changes before and you will get through this one.

Take inventory of where your loved ones are.  Take inventory of where your important co-workers and team members are.  If the people you care about are all accounted for, then you can focus your attention on whatever is in front of you.

This old saying puts it in perspective:

Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.

After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.

That means, do what is in front of you.  Donít worry about the things you cannot control.

Rule #1: Donít sweat the small stuff.

Rule #2: Itís all small stuff.

Deal with what you can control and adjust course as needed.

Life is a series of changes.  The calm times are the breather spaces in between the changes.  If you are in the midst of a major change or a minor change of any kind ó self-initiated or initiated by someone else ó remember that there will always be times of change, there will always be times of turmoil and there will always be times of calm.

You can choose to be calm even if things are in turmoil all around you.

Find a way to get a respite Ė even if only for a few minutes Ė where ever you are.  Some very quick ways to feel calm: take a walk around your office building, smell a flower, sit under a tree, take a few deep breaths of fresh air, notice a bird, listen to music, close your eyes, find a water fountain, notice someoneís smile, say "thank you" to someone, do something nice for someone, play with a child or do something you love.  All of these offer a short respite and help to re-energize your mind, your body and your soul.  When you go back into the fray, you will be a calmer person and the challenges wonít seem as great.

If these don't provide some respite, ask for help.  There are many ways to ask: prayer, seek out a professional counselor, seek out a competent friend, ask a minister or find a spiritual advisor.  Ask your family, friends, co-workers or team members for help when needed.  Most people find that when they ask, help is provided.  If your friend or co-worker needed help, would you help them?  Of course!  So, they too will probably help you if ask.  There are also many organizations designed to help people with life's challenges.  Many companies have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP).  Check with your Human Resources department about those.  And, there are many community service groups that are dedicated to helping people in all types of situations. 

Everyone needs help from other people to get through life's transitions.  

About the book excerpt: Copyright © 2011 Victoria Marina-Tompkins, used with permission of the author.  The book, Spiritual Turning Points: A Metaphysical Perspective of the Seven Life Transitions, is available online through XLibris, Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your local bookseller.  Victoria is an Intuitive, Shamanic Teacher, Astrologer and founding director of Flight of the Hawk Center for Contemporary Shamanism in Half Moon Bay, California.  Flight of the Hawk offers consultations, intensive programs and certifications in shamanism, astrology and esoteric studies.  For more information, please contact 

  Internet Resources

book graphic  Books   -  Disclosure: We get a small commission for purchases made via links to Amazon.

world wide web - articles  Articles

Related newsletter articles:
    MBI - Management by Interaction
    April 2010 - Losing Your Job?  Psychological, Spiritual & Practical Advice
    March 2009 - The Seven Steps to Change
    May 1997 - Coping with Change
    August, 1996 - Managing Change
    November 1997 - Learning Flexibility

smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  

  • Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.  There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right.  To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage. ... Ralph Waldo Emerson 
  • For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.  ... Ralph Waldo Emerson 
  • You're alive.  Do something.  The directive in life, the moral imperative was so uncomplicated.  It could be expressed in single words, not complete sentences.  It sounds like this: Look.  Listen.  Choose.  Act. ... Barbara Hall, A Summons to New Orleans, 2000
  • Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix. ... Christina Baldwin
  • We choose to go to the moon.  We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. ... John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962.  
  • I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.  It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.   I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."  I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.  I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.  I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.  I have a dream today.  ... Dr. Martin Luther King, August 28, 1963.  


About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links.   We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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