Remember Who You Are: Transition Self-Care Strategy #1
Remember Who You Are: #1 Self-Care Transition Strategy
In the midst of a transition, it’s often hard to remember who you are. It’s easy to lose track of your strengths and skills. It’s part of the transition process to feel confusion and disorientation towards not only what’s happening externally with, say, a move or new job, but also what’s happening inside of you.
Why this is important
There is an infamous quote I happened upon years ago while in college as a 40-something adult, transitioning back to school after 20 years. It’s from Dante’s Inferno, written centuries ago. As a woman also facing an identity crisis as her nest emptied, I found these ancient words deeply resonating with me then, and they still do today:
Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
Transitions may happen at any time in our life’s journey, and, regardless of when they do, we can easily lose that way-forward path. We listen to well-meaning friends who ply us with advice, some good and some not-so-good. We ruminate about the past while worrying about the future. We may attempt unhealthy experiences to soothe our pain. We so very easily forget who we are in our core, what we value, and what means most to us in this life journey.
One way to find the path again while in a disorienting, confusing transition is to Remember Who You Are.
How to Remember Who You Are
There are many ways to remember who you are. You might ask a trusted friend or relative to email you a few adjectives describing how they see you, or of what they value in you. You might pick up a photo from a stable time in your life, and spend some time looking at it, recalling what was happening at the time, how you felt then, where you were, what your dreams were.
In your journal, you might even begin a dialogue with that photo of your former self, asking it questions, opening your heart to its answers. Engaging in a honest dialogue on the pages of your journal is a classic journaling technique, one many journalers find useful in times of transition and change.
Another way to journal into remembering who you are is to create a timeline of major life transitions. It’s often helpful to visualize the changes you’ve already gone through. What got you through? What skills or strengths, say, did you develop from graduating from college and moving to a new job in a new city? What strengths did you have to rely on as you became a new mother, or divorcee, or widow?
One creative way to journal that I learned from transition Nancy Seibel over at Keys to Change is to trace the outline of your hand on a journal page. Then on each of the fingers list a personal strength. Do the same for your skills and values. That will give you at least 15 valuable insights to remembering who you are.
You can also just take to the pages of your journal with these prompts:
- My current strengths, values, and skills are….
- What can I learn from past transitions?
- What are my best coping skills?
- What best possible outcome do I want from this transition?
You may not immediately be thinking of best possible outcomes as a key to remembering who you are. Yet, when we engage in this type of conversation with ourselves, we engage in possibility. Hope can return, often leading us back to recalling other hopeful times, other moments when we persevered and persisted. And, perseverance and persistence are two strengths!
If journaling feels more strain than help, collage instead.
Round up some old magazines or fliers from the mail. Flip through the pages quickly, ripping out images and words that just resonate with you. Don’t think too hard about this. Then begin arranging them on a two-page spread in your journal. When satisfied, grab your gluestick and glue them down. Add doodles, or other creative embellishments you have around the house.
After you’ve completed your collage, engage it in a conversation about your strengths, values, skills, best possible outcomes for this transition. Perhaps ask it a few questions and listen to how the images might answer.
Lastly: Keep this list or collage handy.
Post it on your refrigerator, or bathroom mirror. Affirm yourself daily with its wisdom.
In summary, life transitions can force us off the path of remembering who we are. By writing down or creatively expressing your core values, strengths, skills, and best possible outcomes, you will have created a visual record, one you can return to not only during this life transition, but also in future ones. You have breadcrumbs to guide you back to the life’s journey.
Coming Next Week: #2 Self-Care Strategy for Transitions…How to Create a Daily Rhythm.
Read more about three stages in Transition Process below.