How Does Change Work?
The words “change,” “transformation” and “transition” are often used interchangeably.
Regardless of the term, the secret is to stay flexible for when the next wave rolls in.


Transition is where we find the creative potential for a new situation.

Transition is where the juice lives. It’s also where the fear pops up. Transition is the great unknown—the X factor. In essence, it can be seen as the exact amount of energy needed to travel from where we have been to where we are going. It is also the determiner of where we end up—regardless of where we may have thought we were headed.

A final destination—if there is such a thing in this life—will no doubt require many transitions within a certain metamorphic phase. But what focuses my work is a series of questions: How do we know that we are in transition? How does it operate? What can we expect from it? What does it require of us? How do we maximize its potential? And how do we complete the one that we’re in?

We are never in a single transition

IrishWorkersWalkingWe may be moving between jobs, states of health, stages of life, or changes in relationships. The seasons clearly immerse us in those in-between times—for example, when it’s not quite spring or still too warm to be winter. Nature is perpetually in flux as plants and animals adapt to subtle or dramatic shifts in temperature and weather patterns.

Likewise, human beings are always transforming. Parents will certainly attest to the dramatic physical, emotional, and mental fluctuations their children manifest—especially during the turbulent years of adolescence. Startlingly childish one day and surprisingly adult the next, young people experience the growing pains of life transitions that may seem to appear over night, unless they and their guardians are attuned to the subtle shifts that are the heralds of change.

The intangible precursors of tangible changes are what I mean by transition. Like the roots that grow deep from a seed long before the green shoot pokes its head above ground, the energy of transition is first active at subterranean levels. All manner of energetic shifts take place in a young body before we see evidence of a growth spurt. At any age, a new idea or life experience can spark the same kind of adjustment in consciousness that leads to a new level of awareness.

Science may define all change as nothing more than a series of chemical reactions. And indeed, mental, emotional, and physical shifts can be tracked with various types of biological and mechanical testing—most vividly with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology.

But key questions are:

What is the catalyst for these shifts?
What is the impetus of a new reaction.
How do we work with it?

A thought emerges or something happens to prompt the shift and this event can be seen as the essence of change. What follows the spark or tipping point that sets all subsequent ripples in motion is one way of identifying what I call “the razor’s edge of change.” It is an instant of stillness—pregnant with potential that will manifest according to the focus of both its intention and attention.

Transition is that manifestation, and it leads to transformation. It is a journey that can last a millisecond or a millennium. Transition is the process by which things are transformed. Change is the catalyst and a transformed manifestation is the result.

Music offers a very clear example of this process because transitions are like key changes. There is an interval of time—a breathed space—after the last note of the old key and before the first note of the new key is played. It is felt in the body and heard by the inner ear of each musician before it is actually sounded by voice or instrument.

We usually think of a key change as going up in pitch

Likewise, even negative experiences are meant to eventually lift us up to a new level of insight about the nature of life and how we live it. So the interval of transition in music, as in life, is also a lift that requires an in-breath, a gathering of energy, and then an energetic release into the new key.

The precision with which the key change is executed depends on the skill of the musicians and their ability to tune to the same frequency and then play it together. The new note they strike transforms the piece of music, but the process was one of transition. Transition precedes transformation. It is what happens between the old key and the new one.

It is the extra energy required to lift off (or up) that makes transitions both exhilarating and dangerous. Think of the X Games or the practice of Parkour. One miscalculation in the interval between take-off and landing can spell disaster. So it is with many of the life transitions we face each day.

Success or failure depends on what happens in the middle—which often feels like the Middle of Nowhere. In that in-between place we are no longer who we were but not yet who we will become. We are as unknown to ourselves as are the circumstances in which we now find our selves.

And that is why we need a process to help us keep moving into a new identity and a new life. Here is a simple model developed through my work as a Life Transitions Leader.

The LIGHT Process construct:

Change or the desire for change is the catalyst
Transformation is the goal.
Transition is the journey.
The LIGHT Process is the road map.

Next suggested article:

Transforming Coping into Processing

Learn More…

Webinars, speeches and keynotes about The LIGHT Process
More articles on Cheryl’s PsychologyToday blog: Living on the Razor’s Edge
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The LIGHT Process – The Book


Copyright © 2017 Cheryl Eckl and All rights reserved.

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