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Transitions and Character Building

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Transitions and character building.  The I Ching identifies hexagram 3 as Difficulty at the Beginning – this is what I think of when I think of children who are struggling with separation anxiety – to my mind all transitions have this feeling at their core.

The name of the hexagram denotes a blade of grass pushing against an obstacle as it sprouts out of the earth….K’an the abysmal, water above and Chen the arousing, thunder below …it is representative of thunderstorm, and the calm and cleansing that returns after the storm clears.

The judgement:  Difficulty at the beginning works supreme success.  Furthering through perseverance.  Nothing should be undertaken.   It furthers one to appoint helpers.  Times of growth are beset with difficulties.  …everything is in motion therefore if one perseveres then there is a prospect of great success, in spite of the existing danger.  The image:  Clouds and Thunder the image of difficulty at the beginning thus the superior man brings order out of chaos.  pg 16 the I CHING (my bold emphasis)

Transitions are difficult no matter your age.

Transitioning requires being firm and flexible, ready to act, while patient, acting while observing and adjusting.  Transitions have to do with letting go of what isn’t needed while attaining that which is needed, and doing so in a flowing, smooth manner.

We all have a little bit of the 2-year-old response to transitions – “NO I don’t want to make the change”. As we age we are better at keeping that response under wraps but it’s there, because there is a natural resistance to change within our being.

So I say it’s good to work with what you have.

If you are feeling no to the change, that’s a good time to discover what you like about where you are.  Maybe it will allow you to embrace the shift into something new.  What is it that you feel you will miss out on with the change?

Sometimes there really is something that you feel has sustained you like a great relationship with a partner or teacher, but often it’s just the unknown aspect of the change that one is resisting.

If it is something that you have created that you are fearful you will lose then think about how to bring that experience forward with you.  For example, if it is a great relationship with a teacher, co-worker or boss – discover what made it work and recognize that you may be able to create a similar positive situation or just hold onto the good feelings of that relationship knowing that you can develop something like that in your next endeavor.

If it’s something that is about fear of the unknown, think about when you have transitioned before and what the positive outcomes have been.  Most of the time children (and adults) can identify successes they have had with transitions or in the other experience and this can bolster their self-confidence.

My daughter and I have written a group of short stories about how to move through transitions in a graceful and flowing manner.  Like a princess, fairy, or hero who knows she has to move forward and act gracefully even though she feels like stomping her foot and standing still.

These strategies are ways to use transitions to build self-esteem, character, and flexibility; they’re like helpers that assist in bringing order out of chaos.

First off it’s always good to have a warning that a transition is coming – and most transitions do allow for a built-in warning system.  We just have to be forward thinking, pay attention, and communicate.

Changes from play to work; sleep to wakefulness or visa versa; changes in which house you are staying at, or caregivers; movement from class grade to the next with new teachers, systems, and structures; work environment changes with changes in teams and focus points, most of these are set in-time such that one can be forewarned that change or transition is coming.

The elements that are problematic can be avoided by developing an increased transition time with a transitional object and a structure that the child (or adult) is able to set himself so that it is meaningful.

Transitional objects are traditionally stuffed animals but I have found this can be too obvious, and not allow sufficient privacy for the person to feel supported while feeling like it is not obvious to her peers.

Hats, shoes, socks, t-shirts, sweaters, notebooks, just about anything can be imbued with meaning to allow the person to use the item as a transitional object without necessarily telegraphing to everyone they are having difficulty.

It can be a note that someone has written to you, or a gift from the person whom you are leaving or transitioning from.  The item needs to be chosen by the transitioning person.

Setting space for the transition includes arriving earlier or spending some time developing what you may want to do or have with you during the transition time.  When transition is required to happen quickly it increases the degree of anxiety and decreases the sense of flow.  Stay calm and neutral, supportive, loving, and firm with yourself or the person transitioning; this helps to maintain smoothness and decrease a sense of fear about the change.

Setting a structure or ritual is generally very helpful for human beings.

For moms helping children with transition from grades or to a new teacher/school, creating and following a set of ritualized actions chosen by the child or developed together can be helpful – like a note, hug, walk to the class, or assistance in putting on his desk his items for the day with an identified action that means it’s time to make the transition.

For those of us dealing with more adult transitions making sure there is a structure for bringing forward the things most loved from the previous experience, or keeping a physical connection that reminds you of what worked in the previous experience, allows for an easier flow from one team to another.

Transitions have the capacity to build character, self-confidence, and flexibility which results in an increased sense of strength and joy.  It’s all in how you focus the lens, work with figure/ground and shift the paradigm.

I like the concept of that blade of grass pushing through the earth.  Transitions are required for growth.

See you tomorrow.


Author: instinctivehealthparenting4u

Author, Integrative medicine practitioner, psychotherapist. Albuquerque, NM practice, focus on return to balance and the integration of spirit, mind, and body through meditation and mindfulness. Monthly trainings, & professional and personal development coaching. Find more on my website Read my books, Turning NO to ON: The Art of Parenting with Mindfulness, Turning ME to WE: The Art of Partnering with Mindfulness (, for increased internal wellness and alignment with your spiritual purpose, and to activate joyous love and light, bg

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