When transformation comes knocking on your door, it unapologetically asks you to let go of parts of yourself and your life that are no longer of service in order move toward that which is. Sometimes, the welcoming of the new is right there to greet you. More often than not, there is something that writer Charles Epstein calls the space between stories. He describes it this way:
"The old world falls apart but the new has not yet emerged. Everything that once seemed permanent and real is revealed as a kind of hallucination. You don't know what to think, what to do; you don't know what anything means anymore. The life trajectory you had plotted out seems absurd, and you can't imagine another one. Everything is uncertain. Your time frame shrinks from years to this month, this week, today, maybe even this present moment. Without the mirage of order that once seemed to protect you and filter reality, you feel naked and vulnerable, but also a kind of freedom."
Monumental transformations don't happen all that often, and they can be difficult to identify, but after reflecting upon my own experiences and those of my clients, I've been able to parse many of the signs indicating that transformation was indeed happening. Awareness is like a road map of understanding that can help you feel less alone while facing transition. May this road map serve as a support net for you, when you are being asked to step over to the other side.
1. Something feels "stuck."
Feelings of "stuckness" are something everyone can relate to. Your job isn't fulfilling, but you don't know what else you would do. Your relationship isn't satisfying, but you are afraid to leave the security of what has been developed. You feel bored or unenthusiastic, but you can't figure out how to get out of the rut.
These are the moments when we often start to blame and judge others because we don't want to take responsibility for our own fear and discontent. These feelings tend to be physical and energetic versus analytic. And things can feel out of alignment when caught up in the rat race of life: working hard, participating in the grind of a daily commute, feeling weighed down by obligations, and not getting enough sleep, exercise, or time for stillness and self-care.
This is the perfect recipe for some serious "aloning."
As Henry David Thoreau states in Walden,
"I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude."
Although often scary or uncomfortable at first, being alone is one of the greatest gifts for acknowledging stuckness and uncovering your own truth. By having the extra space and a lack of external stimulation to run toward, you can begin to unpack what's coming up and see how it makes you feel.
So, if you feel stuck, slow the heck down, and spend some time alone. Go on a solo hiking or camping trip, shut down all forms of technology for the day (or longer), don't make too many plans with friends or colleagues, and un-busy yourself.
2. Conflict arises in many areas of your life.
Transformation is defined as a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance. When we are being asked to undergo a transformation, we must let go of that which is no longer serving us in order to call in that which does.
Are you saying things you have never said to your parents but have always thought? Are you fighting with your spouse, having a difficult time communicating with your children, or in constant disagreement with your boss?
Sure, these could simply be the regular ebbs and flows of life, but you can choose to observe them through a more expansive lens of symbolism and spirituality. If you are noticing an abnormal amount of conflict arise in different areas in your life, look deeper.
If you have been invited to make changes, where do you begin? Rather than worry about the difficulties that are arising, simply try to become the observer. Note what is happening, pay attention to how it makes you feel, and be open to exploring conflict in all relationships as a portal to your highest self.
3. You have a difficult time concentrating or getting "work" done.
Not feeling productive in the traditional sense? Having a hard time finishing your to-do list or getting through all of your email? Don't sweat it.
Our bodies are equipped to handle only so much at any given time. When we are being called to undergo a transformation, much of our physical energy is consumed by that process. Something bigger is happening, and although we may not be cognitively aware of what is going on, our bodies know what's up. It's OK to press the pause button on your regular day-to-day routine to allow for more important things to arise. Complete what you have to do, and then allow yourself the time to just simply be by walking through the woods, taking naps, and reading books. The rest of that list will be there when you get back, and some things may just magically disappear.
4. You're barely sleeping or sleeping all the time.
If you are hearing the murmurs of transformation, you may experience a heightened and uncharacteristic amount of anxiety or depression. These feelings may encourage you to sleep all of the time or may prevent you from sleeping at all.
The trick to getting through it is simply to listen and respect your body. If you can't sleep, get up and read a book, write in a journal, or listen to music. If you're wiped out and need more sleep, clear as much of your calendar as you can and allow yourself to rest.
5. Raw emotion starts to spill out of you.
It feels exactly as it sounds. In the process of transformation, you can't contain your emotions. Tears well up in your eyes. Screams or moans leak out of your mouth. You laugh uncontrollably and out of context. Please don't freak out.
Don't try to push these emotions down or shove them in some basement closet. Allow the feelings to move through you, and I promise...they will pass. There is such strength in raw emotion because it can arise only from someone with a soft, open heart. Being vulnerable is badass, so go on now and get down with those wild, raw emotions that live inside of you.
6. You get signs from the Universe.
Transformation isn't analytical. It's natural and spiritual. It's slightly otherworldly. If you are getting big signs from the universe, having new or unexplainable plant or animal encounters, hearing messages in the wind, listen and pay attention. They may be telling you the answers or offering you the exact type of support that you need in that moment.
7. You feel a sense of calm and inner peace.
We are constantly in a pseudo-state of transformation; however, there are valleys and peaks that truly take our breath away. When we have reached the peak of a larger transformation, everything insignificant seems to fall away. We are stripped back to our most basic, animal-like selves, only tending to that which is of utmost priority.
In that process of shedding old skins, you become clear and calm and peaceful. Your body feels soft, tender, and open. And you are certain that things will work out exactly as they are meant to, because in reality there isn't really an alternative. As life continues to gently (or not so gently) guide you on your path, may you have the courage to embrace that which you are called to change and the patience to sit in stillness as you wait to find out what is on the other side to meet you.