Chances are good that during this time of year, you or someone close to you is stepping into a new school year and the challenges of making another transition. Transitions are tough.
There is a great deal written and discussed about the opportunities for personal growth that come when we walk through a major transition in life. What is often left without comment is the opportunity for those who are alongside someone going through a transition to connect deeper and in a more meaningful way.
As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, being intentional with support for those who are experiencing change will open a door to a healthier and more resilient relationship with those we care about most.
Transitions are a regular part of life…there is no avoiding change in our lives and those around us. These experiences bring about a wide spectrum of emotions from excitement to worry, hope to fear, and energized to exhausted.
Here are three specific steps we can take to effectively support those going through a transition that can strengthen our relationship and prevent the stress of transition from creating a fracture in relationships we care most about:
- Listen: Listening is a simple and powerful way to demonstrate to someone that they matter. Listening does not require an advanced degree or special training. All it takes is a simple decision to be silent and give someone our attention. Being a good listener will encourage others to share more of their lives with us. We typically keep hidden our painful experiences. Being a good listener can help build a trusting, non-judgmental, and shame-free atmosphere, which can help open a door to sharing some of the pain experienced during a transition.
- Presence: Our presence is often more powerful than our words in comforting someone going through a transition. Academic research and our practical experience would remind us that just being there is a source of comfort. Not spouting some philosophical wisdom or relating our own experience, but just our presence can aid the afflicted more than our “brilliant” speech. For those of us who often feel anxious about what to say or what to do, it is important to be reminded that there is greater value and impact in just being present when aiding and comforting those closest to us.
- Touch: We are all well aware of the physical bonding that happens between a loving parent and a young child. There is a strong body of evidence to suggest that loving, physical contact at any stage of life is critical to our physical, mental, and emotional health. During times of transition, the opportunity to touch with a hug or a pat of the back can be our primary means of communicating compassion.
As we become intentional on being more effective in supporting others going through a major transition, we will build and strengthen our character, and Character Creates Opportunity to improve the health of our relationships and encourage those we care about most.