There are many times in our life when we need to reinvent ourselves. Transitions like adolescence, young adulthood, parenthood, and the empty nest cause us to go through transitions that force us to shift focus and/or grow. These can be expected cycles even if they are not easy. Unexpected events such as strokes or cancer, layoffs, and economical crises can be especially unsettling and cause us to doubt ourselves, view ourselves as a failure, and feel unsure of how to proceed. These times can also challenge our resources and our identities and normal coping responses may be inadequate.

We must be willing to accept a loss, a failure, be willing to take responsibility for our part if any, learn what we can from the experience, and reexamine what is important at this time in your life. We have to be willing to recreate ourselves. Taking difficult life experiences and using them as a catalyst for growth allows for transformation and some of the richest life experiences. It doesn’t mean you won’t experience the five stages of grief including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance (as defined by Hubler-Ross). You will. But there are things that can help you navigate through a difficult transition. Here are some processes and steps to help you. Professional support is available and can be valuable to guide the way.

Grieve your loss and past experiences – Talk to friends, see a therapist or a spiritual guide, journal about your experience. Find some way to be honest with your disappointment, loss, or hurt and express them in healthy ways. This is the path to emotional growth and maturity.

Learn what you can from your experience. Socrates tells us, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

Take Stock. Evaluate your Dreams, Strengths, Skills, and Resources.  Evaluate where you are in your life, assess your strengths and skills, and what’s important to you at this time in your life. What is your heart and spirit calling for at this time with any changes or limitations that have been imposed. Be honest with yourself about your limitations and your strengths and skills. How can you build on what you have? Resources include savings, support systems like family/friends/colleagues, and time, among other things.

Avoid negative coping responses like drinking alcohol or turning to drugs to numb the pain and shame. Talking to others can ameliorate the shame we feel when we are struggling and we often find we are not alone.