The Five Transitions

"This is Trasna
The Crossing Place
Choose!"

"This is Trasna
The Crossing Place
Come!"

–Raphal Cortsidine

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The Latin word, transitio, means to "go across." Transition is a process that every human being is actively engaged in, whether we recognize it or not!

Cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien identifies the five transitions we encounter during our lives:

  • Work
  • Relationship
  • Health
  • Finances
  • Identity

If we are in more than one transition at a time, we are in a metamorphosis.

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Metamorphosis is a transformation from one state to something completely different or new.

Transition is an agent of revelation and change. Through the Five Transitions we learn:

    • What requires change or strengthening in our thinking;
    • Our unique array of gifts and talents;
    • Our character qualities;
    • Our values and principles;
    • Our priorities.

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    RIGOROUS WORK

    How we respond to the rigors of transition depends on our readiness. We must be willing to see transition as the inevitable encounter with the future and forget about shoring up a safe hiding place. No matter how many defenses we erect, transition will always find us, always be a force in our lives.

    One of the hardest things to accomplish when you're going through a difficult transition is to stay in the present. It's easier sometimes to time travel to the past or the future, rather than stay in the "here and now."

    When we time travel, we risk sabotaging the transition process by overlaying it with our resentments and fears: resentment about the past that has fallen away and fear of handling the unknown and emerging future.

    It's easy to terrify ourselves while navigating transition by listening to the inner critic whose whole job is to undermine our confidence and convince us of our inadequacies.

    If we believe ourselves to be inadequate, we will set up a self-fulfilling prophecy and obstruct our own progress.

    When we remain attached to personal power–our accrued knowledge, skills, experience, character qualities and resourcefulness — we can maintain our strength and resiliency through transition.

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    MAKING CHOICES

     

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    Every transition demands that we make choices. Choosing from a place of strength, clarity and confidence is our best hope for success.

    Spanish philosopher and essayist, Jose Ortega y Gasset reminds us of our responsibilities for choosing when we come to Trasna, the Crossing Place:

    "We are not launched into existence like a shot from a gun, with its trajectory absolutely predetermined. The destiny under which we fall when we come into this world ...consists in the exact contrary. Instead of imposing on us one trajectory, it imposes several, and consequently forces us to choose... To live is to feel ourselves fatally obliged to exercise our liberty, to decide what we are going to be in this world. Not for a single moment is our activity of decision allowed to rest. Even when in desperation we abandon ourselves to whatever may happen, we have decided not to decide."

    Indigenous people the world over consider the impact that their choices will have on the next seven generations. This ensures that expediency or self-interest is not the driving motivation for choosing, and that due consideration is given to the impact of a decision on individuals, communities and the environment.

    It also ensures that time is made for reflection before a decision is taken, especially when complexity and ambiguity are present.

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    Patrick O’Neill leads Extraordinary Conversations, a consultancy in transformational change management and organizational development. He writes Breakthrough and Transformational Leader newsletters, a blog called Visions and works with organizations committed to high performance.

    Posted on May 27, 2013 .