For many of us 2020 has been a year of intense transitions. As the world moves through a period of economic, social and political uncertainty a lot of the things we took for granted have been cast into doubt or changed irrevocably. Not only the material circumstances of our work, but our deeper understanding of the world around us; our place within it, the opportunities and possibilities afforded to us.
Change in all its forms is perhaps the central challenge we face throughout life – how to cope and respond when plans fall apart, or our worldview is suddenly turned on its head. Whether these changes occur at the micro level of our day-to-day lives or in a truly profound and life-altering way, the skill of navigating through periods of transition is something that underpins spiritual and psychological development.
No matter if we are transitioning from one set of life circumstances to another, or away from deeper thought patterns that have defined our entire lives until now, the heart of this process involves a fundamental transformation of consciousness.
Such a process is far from easy. After all, anything that deals with the core of who we are takes time to become rooted and whole. However, in our attitude to change we can recast ourselves from the passive recipient of external events into an active participant in our life’s circumstances; a person with agency and self-defined meaning.
The earliest transitions take place as we grow up, trading dependency on the family unit for psychological self-responsibility. For most of us this is an avowedly passive process, only becoming aware of ourselves after we emerge the other side as adults with adult responsibilities. Once we make it out the other side it is all too tempting to think our psychological journey is over, that we are now fully formed. Yet the core of the self lies in its ability to adapt, change and flow through life – reconstituting itself into new forms to cope with and celebrate the changes that life has in store.
This is an active process, and one that begins with the ability to be self-aware in our response to events – to recognise patterns of behaviour that we find unhelpful or undesirable. In doing so we illuminate the positive response that we instead want to embody and can carry it forward, facing into the journey with honesty and the help of those around us.