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Embracing Transition


Embracing Transition Transformation is the true destination of transition. How transition does this is a mystery William Bridges Change and Transition The ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Embracing Transition

Embracing Transition
  • Transformation is the true destination of
    transition. How transition does this is a
    mystery William Bridges

Change and Transition
  • The beginning of wisdom is to call things by
    their right names. Chinese proverb
  • Transition is the psychological and spiritual
    process people go through in coming to terms with
  • Change is external and concrete, e.g. changing a
    job, moving house.
  • Change happens pretty fast, however, inwardly the
    psychological transition happens much more

Distinguishing Transformation and Change
  • This is the great, grave distinction between
    change and transformation. Change refers to
    adaptation, reaction, without necessarily
    involving any newness of being, a new creative
    energy flowing from the center which acts with
    creative power upon surrounding events. (Flora
    Slosson Wuellner)

Losses and Endings
  • It isnt changes themselves that people
    resist. It is the losses and endings that they
    experience and the transition that they are
    resisting. You have to deal directly with the
    losses and endings.
  • What is actually endings and who is loosing
  • What are you going to miss?

  • Most developmental psychologists are of the
    opinion that transition involves a three phase
  • - ending
  • - neutral zone
  • - beginning again

Beginnings Depend on Endings
  • Before you can begin something new, you have
    to end what used to be. Before you can become a
    different kind of person, you must let go of the
    old identity. Before you can learn a new way of
    doing things, you have to unlearn the old way. So
    beginnings depend on ending.
  • (William Bridges 1997, 19)

  • What we call the beginning is often the end.
  • And to make an end is to make a beginning.
  • The end is where we start from.
  • (T.S. Elliot. Little Gidding 1942)

  • Viewing ministry solely as a service one
    renders sets the stage for frustration and
    disappointment in retirement, turning what should
    be a time of personal growth and development into
    disillusionment and depression.
  • (Francis Blouin. What Is My Mission in
    Retirement? Review for Religious Jan.-Feb. 1999,

Transitions in Scripture
  • Three important moments of transition occur in
    the Gospels
  • The moment Jesus decides to leave home and travel
    to the Jordan to investigate his cousins Johns
  • The feast of Holy Saturday.
  • The interim between the Ascension and Pentecost.
    (Thomas Sweetser Mary Benet McKinney 1998, 7).

  • If you want to live, you need to give yourself
    over to the way of transition to let go when
    life presents you with a time of ending, to
    abandon yourself to the neutral zone when it is
    where you find yourself, to seize the opportunity
    to make a new beginning when the moment presents
    itself (Bridges 2001, 42).

Six Functions Served by Transition
  • Reorientation transitions reorient us so that we
    can mobilize our energies to deal with the new
  • Personal Growth reorientation brings us to a new
    a more authentic relationship with the world
    around us.
  • Authentication refers to the inner face of
    growth, a way of being that is truer to who we
    really are

  • Creativity this refers to the creative
    opportunities that come to us in the chaos of the
    neutral zone.
  • Spirituality it is in the neutral zone
    (desert) that we most readily encounter the
  • Renewal transitions renew in recapturing the
    energy that permits us to be reborn anew.

Four dimensions of Loss
  • Disengagement separation from whatever it is you
    have lost.
  • Disidentification the way the loss destroys the
    old identity you had.
  • Disenchantment the way the loss tears you out of
    the old reality you accepted unthinkingly.
  • Disorientation the way you feel bewildered as a
    result of the loss (Bridges 2001, 62-63).

Three Phases of Transition
neutral zone
Transitions on an organizational level
  • The single biggest reason organizational
    changes fail is that no one thought about endings
    or planned to manage their impact on people . . .
    They forget that while the first task of change
    management is to understand the destination and
    how to get there, the first task of transition
    management is to convince people to leave home.
    (Bridges 1997, 32).

The Diagram
  • In transition there is an ending, then a neutral
    phase and only then a new beginning.
  • You are in more than one phase of transition at
    the same time.
  • The movement through transition is marked by a
    change in the dominance of one phase.

Neutral Zone.
  • Its not so much that were afraid of change
    or so in love the old ways, but its that place
    in between that we fear. . Its like being in
    between trapezes. Its Linus when his blanket is
    in the dryer. Theres nothing to hold on to.
    Marilyn Ferguson.
  • One doesnt discover new lands without
    consenting to loose sight of the shore for a very
    long time. Andre Gide

Neutral Zone
  • The neutral zone is like the wilderness
    through which Moses led his people. That took 40
    years, not because they were lost but because the
    generation that had known Egypt had to die off
    before they entered the Promised Land.
  • (Bridges 1995, 37)

Normalize the Neutral Zone
  • People need to recognize that it is natural to
    feel somewhat frightened and confused in this
    no-mans land.
  • The neutral zone isnt just meaningless waiting
    and confusion it is a time when a necessary
    reorientation and redefinition is taking place,
    and people need to understand that. It is the
    winter during which the springs new growth is
    taking shape under the earth.
  • (William Bridges 1997, 37)

  • Most of us have more freedom than we ever use,
    and the older we get the more inefficiently we
    squander it. You go around like a dog at the end
    of a chain for so long that when you get off the
    chain you hardly know how to run.
  • Fr Peter Crysdale.

New Beginning
  • The world fears a new experience more than it
    fears anything. Because a new experience
    displaces so many old experiences. . . The world
    doesnt fear a new idea. It can pigeon-hole any
    idea. But it cant pigeon-hole a real new
    experience. (D. H. Lawrence)

Ambivalence Towards Beginnings
  • Beginnings are strange things. People want
    them to happen but fear them at the same time.
    Beginnings feel frightening for a number of
  • Beginnings establish once and for all that the
    ending was real.
  • New beginnings may trigger old memories of
    failure in the past.
  • For some people new beginnings destroy what was a
    pleasant experience in the neutral zone.
  • (Bridges 1997, 51)

Zones of Stability
  • Toffler (1970) suggests that we can cope with
    large amounts of change provided one area of our
    life is relatively stable. Stability zones are
    frequently associated with
  • People family, long-standing friends
  • Ideas a religious belief
  • Places e.g. home
  • Things favourite objects
  • Organizations to which one belongs

Your Stability Zones
  • What are your stability zones and how well do
    they serve you?
  • Do you invest enough in your stability zones?
  • Are there changes you want to make in your
    stability zones, and how you use and maintain
  • (Leonie Sugarman. Life-Span Development
  • 2nd Ed. 2001)

Questions to Ponder
  • What is it that your life is calling upon you to
    deal with at his moment?
  • What chapter of your life is now over? What is
    it time for you to let go of?
  • How are you experiencing the in-between time? How
    are you coping with it?
  • How are you drawing on the Christian tradition to
    help you interpret your experience?

Now I Become Myself May Sarton
  • Now I become myself. Its taken
  • Time, many years and places
  • I have been dissolved and shaken,
  • Worn other peoples faces . . .
  • As you read these lines what arises for you
    about your own life journey, about where youve
    been and where you are now?
  • (Parker Palmer The Courage to Teach Guide for
    Reflection and Renewal. 2007, 72).
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