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2021 has been a year to take serious stock of one’s life, a year of making choices for oneself.
Gallup Polls (gallup.com) conducted a Global Emotions Poll for the past 15 years in 145 countries. They found in 2020, “… the world was sadder, angrier, more worried and more stressed” than ever before in the history of the poll. Many peoples’ spirits have flattened during the prolonged pandemic.
Yet, there are examples all around us of people strengthening one another. Being aware and responding to others’ needs can help spread joy and hope. It’s a time to be gentle with others and yourself and to try and make things easier.
Keeping yourself in mind during transitions
Author William Bridges, in his book “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes,” says the mind is a vessel that must be emptied if the new wine is to be put in. He points out in this book that disenchantment with your new reality is a signal that things are now moving into transition.
Bridges quotes poet Robert Frost who wrote about being “lost enough to find yourself” in a state of disorientation. In other words, the old sense of your life as going somewhere starts to break down, leaving some feeling like shipwrecked sailors.
During the pandemic, many of us have occasionally lost track of the days; time takes on a different meaning. Disorientation today affects our sense of the future and our plans for it.
Bridges points out that we need to deal with a time of nothing before we can move on to find something new; this can conjure up fear.
For many of us, this experience of a “neutral zone” of existence feels like emptiness in which the old reality now looks less solid while we try to understand the gap we are living in before the next life phase occurs.
Bridges says the first neutral zone activity is surrender: the person gives in to the emptiness and stops struggling to escape it. The sense of emptiness between the old life and the new is important: It is the primal state of pure energy to which the person returns for a new beginning, Bridges explains.
Yet, Bridges communicates that the real source of renewal comes with the process of disintegration in the neutral zone, which can then lead to reintegration.
This stage of reintegration is where a person finds true wisdom. One finds the raw material awaiting the builder. As we await the end of the ongoing pandemic, we can find the way out is actually “the way in.”
Some say the neutral zone feels like car wheels spinning around in loose gravel; the car needs more weight. Now is the time to do something about that!
Bridges suggests taking advantage of a few days alone to consciously reflect on the transition process going on in one’s life right now. What an opportune way to take advantage of quarantine isolation!
British historian Arnold Toynbee said in “The Study of History” there is a cave or forest wilderness where creative individuals such as Buddha, St. Paul and Dante have always withdrawn on the eve of their rebirth.
When the neutral zone has done its work, we can emerge ready to take action in self-improvement, energized and motivated by our inner realignment.