Owning Difficult Transitions: 3 Ways to Break out of the Blame Cycle

Most of us don’t knowingly choose hard transitions. They just happen.

A few years ago I decided to take on a teaching and mentoring role at a private university in the U.S. between overseas assignments. It turned out that the institution was on the brink of closure. Morale was at an all-time low, and I was the newbie coming into what I would soon discover to be the countdown for closing the doors of the college.

The initial decision to take on this role catapulted us into a huge family transition, one that seemed to have more negative impact than positive at the time. What’s more, it just kept getting worse. I began blaming myself - that my decision to lead my family in this direction was a major blunder on my part, and now we were all paying for it.

I found myself with tons of negative self-talk and a very critical attitude. Some days I was blaming the difficult transition on myself. Other days I was angry at others and blaming them. Poor decisions were to blame. American culture was the culprit. You name it, I blamed it. 

I soon discovered that blaming and negative self talk only made things worse. Can I get a witness?

Whether we blame ourselves or others for our difficult and prolonged transitions, either way we are not taking responsibility, not owning our transition. When that happens, we get stuck.

Have you found yourself in a transition that seems to be spinning out of control? Are you feeling stuck in a cycle of anger, confusion and blame?  What could it look like to approach your transition differently?

Let’s make a fresh start with this thought: the soil of difficult transition is often fertile ground for growth and development. Think about that last statement. Do you believe it? If not in your head, at least in your heart?  

Here are 3 ways to defeat the cycle of blame and maximize your growth potential through a hard transition:

1. Go for a long-term perspective. Now from my faith orientation, long-term reaches into eternity. What if this season is preparation ground for the next? Is what you’re experiencing somehow tied to a yet unseen, bigger picture? Prolonged transitions can be really hard but they are never without purpose, EVEN WHEN OUR POOR CHOICES HAVE ADDED TO THE CONFUSION. Focusing long–term can help us gain clarity and break free from hopeless thoughts and attitudes.

2. Get personal when it come to values and priorities. Remember, transition is not setting the agenda, you are. Our personal values remind us of what really matters. Faith, family, friendships, the ways we rest, re-charge and renew- all can serve as anchors to help us ground ourselves and bring joy in the moment when we’re tempted to focus only on the complexities of transition and forget what really matters.

3. Talk about it. Seek out a trusted friend, counselor or coach to process your hard transition with. Tell your story. Worries and concerns which are brought into the light have much less chance of dragging us into the dark side of blame and confusion. Chances are you’re not the only one trying to navigate a confusing transition. When I finally began to understand this fact I started approaching my relationships differently. Rather than avoiding people and conversations I started pursuing them. You can do the same by turning your transition into a series of growth-inducing conversations.

It's time to break out of the blame cycle and leverage transition for optimal discovery and growth. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you navigate a season uniquely designed by God for your ultimate good.

Merry Christmas,

Founder & Coach, Encompass Life Coaching

Founder & Coach, Encompass Life Coaching

P.S.  As your coach I’m here to support you. Schedule a complementary discovery call to get started on your journey.